airplane safety

How to Stay Safe on a Plane

A new report quantifies the injuries most frequently incurred during air travel—we report the airplane-safety basics that help you avoid getting bumped.

By Megan Othersen Gorman

How to Stay Safe on a Plane

Stow it: Keep heavy objects under the seat in front of you to avoid a hard knock.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Plane travel can be a jumbo-jet-sized hassle, especially during the fly-happy holiday season. But a new study just published in the journal Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine illustrates that air travel not only has its ups and down, it also can leave you battered and bruised. (Especially if global warming is making air turbulence more common.) Take some basic airplane safety precautions, though, and you're less likely to get injured.

THE DETAILS: Researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and Columbia University in New York City used what's called the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, which contains information for about 20 percent of all hospital admissions in the U.S. each year, to identify patients who were hospitalized for aviation-related injuries from 2000 to 2005. They found that flying-related injuries account for about 1,000 hospital admissions and about 750 deaths every year. About a third of those injured are hurt while flying in private aircraft, and another 29 percent are hurt or killed while parachuting. (By far the most common injury: a broken leg.)

WHAT IT MEANS: Airplane travel, while often touted as safer than motoring, isn't without its risks. And while worries about crashes are probably the biggest fear for those who dread plane travel, that's not the only way to get hurt. "Undoubtedly, the most common causes of aviation-related injuries are crashes," notes lead author Susan P. Baker, MPH, a professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy. "But injuries do occur in the absence of crashes, and those are most commonly due to falls or jostling due to turbulence, and falls on aircraft stairs."


Published on: December 14, 2009

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When you enter the plane, tap and count the back of each seat from the front of the aircraft to the row that you’re seated in, so if the fuselage fills with smoke and/or the lights go out, you can get to your nearest exit by tapping your way out. But don’t count on that exit being “available.” At least attempt to visually count the rows to the next exit, forward or back, just in case.
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When I board a plane

When I board a plane, I wipe everything down before I even get settled. Sure, you might get some odd looks, but it's for your own good! I also bring a pocket-sized bottle of waterless hand sanitizer. I wash my hands with it whenever I go to the restroom, before I eat, or before I dig through my bag looking for my book or iPod.
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Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Roads of Texas" to "Management of Medical Practice." She graduated in economics from Sam Houston State University. Before turning to freelance full time, Myers worked as a newspaper reporter, travel agent and medical clinic administrator. web design


Congratulation to Friday Harbor Tigers Junior Football Team...Cheers for the information. Great effort being done by you..
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Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hoping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us.
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Researchers used data on nearly 7,750 men and studied the relationships between watching TV or time spent riding in a car and death from cardiovascular disease over a 21-year time span. They found that men who spent more than 10 hours a week riding in a car or more than 23 hours a week of combined car riding and TV watching were significantly more likely to have died from cardiovascular disease than those who spent less time sitting still.
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Keeping the belt

Keeping the belt on when you are seated provides that extra protection you might need to help you avoid injuries from flight turbulence, thanks for the useful tips.
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Safe Flying

No one likes to think about a crash or a fire on board when you
think about flying. However, let's be realistic and be prepared.

Your information was excellent.

How to Stay Safe on a Plane - Know before you go

Thank you for the thought provoking article. Am preparing for a flight this evening.

As a Health and Safety professional its nice to see information offered to the flying public that is intended to mitigate the potential for injury regardless of when or where it may be encountered.

On the health maintenance side of things, an over the counter immune system booster can sometimes help protect against the other things one may encounter flying around when traveling in public.

Thanks again for helping to make the journey a safe one.

Ali's comment

No one likes to think about all the things that can go wrong when flying, but being forewarned is forearmed. Having good and correct information increases your chances of having a safe and injury-free flight regardless of flying conditions. I'm flying next week and I'm not a worry-free flyer, but knowing there are things I can do to help myself if the need arises makes me feel more at ease. Even the flight attendants go through exit strategies every time I fly and I listen with both ears. I trust God will get me to Hawaii and back in good health and one piece and my wish to all is "God bless us every one".

how to stay safe...

Good information. I have followed all these suggestions just out of common sense in the past--except staying in my seat! I like to stretch every once in a while, but now I'll try more seat-bound stretching :). Thanks!


Avoiding flu on planes and in other places is covered

how to stay safe...

Ok if I didnt like flying before, I defenitly am not excited to it anytime soon. I would have thought Rodale would have posted something about avoiding the flu, or covering your mouth when flying. Not how the turbulance and falling objects could hurt you, and not wearing panty hose or nylon pants so when your plane starts on fire...Yeah not real thrilled with this artical, and Rodale usually has good information on avoiding illness instead of avoiding your pants sticking if there is a fire...Fear of flying this is a must artical to read!

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