Here are some steps the experts say might save your life in a crash:
In recent months, smoke hoods have become a controversial topic in the airline industry. Some say the federal government should make it mandatory for airlines to provide these safety devices, the simplest of which are translucent bags fitted with filters that fit over your head. But the FAA has rejected the proposal, feeling that passengers would take longer to evacuate the plane if they pause to don the hoods.
- When you board the plane, count the number of seat rows to the nearest exit ahead of you and behind you. If smoke fills the cabin, you may have to feel your way to the exit.
- Make sure your seat belt is fastened snugly around your pelvic area, not your stomach.
- Pay attention to the flight attendant's safety briefings and instructions.
- Wear cotton or wool. Do not wear clothes made of synthetic fibers, like nylon or polyester; they may melt into your skin in the event of a fire.
- Women shouldn't wear nylon hose. If they go down an evacuation slide wearing hose, they'll get burn as the hose melt from the friction.
- Know how to open regular and emergency doors and windows. If flight attendants are incapacitated, you may have to do it.
- Always leave shade in your window open during take-off and landings so you can asses the outside conditions.
- If you're traveling over water, know where the life jackets and life rafts are stowed, and how to release them.
- In an emergency evacuation, don't pause to grab personal effects. Just go.
- Know how to get into the "brace" position -- bending over with your head down and your hands grabbing your knees or ankles. And be alert for unusual motions that may signal trouble; getting into the brace position then may prevent severe injuries.
Filters in the hoods, which are made of fire-resistant material, clear toxins from the smoke, including deadly carbon monoxide. They also let you keep seeing and protect you from burning molten stuff falling in your head. Costing $70 and up, they are packaged in a pouch about the size of a paperback book or soda can.