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In The Event of An Emergency

This is a blog that I would rather not write.

But considering that this is a blog for a travel insurance company, I feel that we have some obligation to talk about safety in this moment. Many of you are aware of the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 tragedy this weekend in San Francisco. Local news sources report that the flight carried 307 people; many of those were transported to 11 Bay Area hospitals for treatment, and two lives were lost in the accident. Certainly, my thoughts and prayers are with those who were affected by this incident.

As a frequent traveler myself, this incident is a very sobering reminder of what can happen in the blink of an eye. While there are preliminary reports of what may have happened, investigators will be searching for answers for quite a while. Something that resonates with me is the words of one of the passengers on that flight: "You just don't think it's going to happen to you."

That being said, the minimal amount of injuries is a testament to the safety measures built into modern airplanes. In 18 years of service, this is the first incident where a passenger on a Boeing 777 lost their life as a result of an accident. And according to the Washington Post: before this incident, there had been no fatalities on U.S. commercial jetliners in the last four years. Many people get to go home after this incident - something that I think is incredible to hear.

In this blog, I write a lot about traveling - going places, places that I've visited, and how I work to make travel more comfortable through different plans. I've also written about travel safety, especially when it comes to being safe in the event of an emergency. And something that this event brings home for me is keeping safe on an airplane in the worst of situations. We never think that an event like this can happen to us - it's always something we see on television, and certainly worry about. But every time we get on an airplane, the unlikely event of an emergency can happen to us.

Taking preparatory measures before and during your flight can make the difference between escape and injury. When getting on an airplane, here is how I prepare for the worst:

  • Don't skip over the safety announcement
    I know that you feel like you've probably heard it at least a hundred times. But every plane layout is slightly different from each other - meaning the location and position of emergency exits can be much different in every airplane. Always take a look at the emergency exits, and know their location. Taking this moment to know where to go in an emergency could save your life.
  • Keep tray tables and seats in an upright position at takeoff and landing
    I know how tempting it is to sneak your seat back a little after the flight attendants do their final checks. But in the event that requires evacuation, you could be hampering others (yourself included) from getting out of the plane. By keeping everything up, you are saving valuable time that can make a lifetime of difference in an emergency.
  • Shoes on at takeoff and landing
    I always wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off not just to get through security easier, but to also reduce fatigue on my feet. But I always keep them on for takeoff and landing. In the event something happens and I need to take action, I am prepared - and I don't have to worry about exposing myself to what could potentially be very hazardous situations.
  • Keep your ID and at least one credit card on your person
    In an emergency, you are forced to leave everything behind and get off the plane - that's just the nature of the situation. That can also mean that you're leaving behind your Passport, identification, and possibly your credit cards as a result. ID theft is less of a worry here than is ID verification - which is very important at the time of an emergency. Always have your ID and at least one credit card on your person when in an airplane, as these items can help you immensely after the situation.
  • Keep a list of critical numbers on hand with you
    After an emergency, you may not remember every number of people to call off the top of your head. This is why it is equally important to pack your numbers with you in the event of an emergency. It does not have to be an exhaustive list - just the people you would want to contact after an incident, and the numbers to your service providers (airlines, hotels, travel insurance, etc.) in the event you need to seek rebooking.

I certainly hope that this blog never applies to you, and that all your travels are safe and well whenever you go. But in the event of an emergency, knowing how to best react and being prepared for an emergency could very well save your life.


Thiago daLuz

Excellent commentary, Joe, and both informative and very uplifting. We have seen a recent spike in travel insurance in Calgary, which, all things considered, I find comforting. People still want to travel, and are now looking at doing so more safely and securely.

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