The tragic crash of a Germanwings commercial flight in the south of France Tuesday that killed all 150 people on board was the latest in a spate of deadly plane crashes in the past year. Commercial airplanes have been downed over Ukraine, disappeared in the Indian Ocean and crashed in a river in Taiwan in recent months with no survivors because of the horrific nature of the incidents.
But while the recent spate of high-profile crashes have been particularly deadly, the National Transportation Safety Board estimates that 95 percent of all passengers in plane crashes from 1983 to 2000 survived. Luck and circumstances surely play a role, but it's also always helpful to know what to do in such a situation. Below are seven tips to increase your chances of making it in a plane crash. Bear in mind that every situation is different, and there will always be factors out of your control, such as weather or the skill of the pilot flying the plane.
Before anything happens:
1. Pay attention during the safety talk. Most people tune out when flight attendants show where to find life jackets and how to put them on, where the exits are, how to use the oxygen mask that should dangle in front of your face when needed, and so on. In an emergency, you'll be glad you know just where to find and how to use these life-saving devices.
2. Stay alert when taking off and landing. Most crashes occur when planes are either taking off or landing. Being asleep during either period reduces your chances of responding quickly, should something happen. Drinking alcohol will similarly limit your ability to react in a flash.
3. Choose airlines with good safety records. When purchasing flight tickets, shop before you buy. Research the airline you're flying on (here are some options) and examine numbers of accidents, crashes, deaths and other critical safety factors. It can be tempting to just purchase the cheapest tickets out there, but make sure that the hidden cost doesn't come in the form of safety.
4. Dress for comfort and movement. Sturdy closed-toed shoes, long pants and a shirt with long sleeves are your best bet for being able to move quickly and stay warm, if necessary. High heels are not ideal, as they can be hard to move in, don't protect your feet and could even puncture an evacuation slide. Natural fibers are preferable because they are less flammable, and wool is best of all because it keeps the wearer warm while wet.
If you know the plane is going to crash:
5. Have a plan. If the plane really is going down, you'll have a few (panicked) minutes to come up with a loose plan. Figure out where the nearest exits are and how you'll get to one. Try to determine where the plane could land--if it's on water, you'll want to put on your life jacket (don't inflate until off the plane, though).
6. Fasten your seat belt tightly, and keep it low, over your hips rather than on your stomach, as hips are better able to withstand force. And the looser your belt, the higher the impact of the crash.
7. Move. Fast. When planes go down, passengers usually survive the initial impact of a crash, CNN has reported. Instead, it's usually what ensues that is deadly, be it fire or water. Ben Sherwood, author of "The Survivors' Club," estimated that passengers have 90 seconds after a crash to get out of a plane before it becomes impossible to escape. Once you're out of the plane, get as far away from the wreckage as you can.