AMERICA SURVIVES with Joanna Rothkopf, pt. 1: How to survive a plane crash

Real advice... for Americans

Published May 12, 2015 7:45PM (EDT)

  (<a href=''>Kamenetskiy Konstantin</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
(Kamenetskiy Konstantin via Shutterstock)

AMERICA SURVIVES is a weekly column about how to stay alive in the situations that keep you from sleeping at night. We're not neurotic, just PREPARED.

Wow, guys, I've recently noticed that the world is a real death trap. It's almost as if, I don't know, life is some tenuous, unnatural coincidence that we are all desperately clinging to? Does that seem super crazy and weird? Sorry, it's just something I've been thinking.

So, I've decided not to die and help you to not die either so that I can have someone to keep me company. Here is the first post in a series about how to survive everyday causes of death, because we are Americans and Americans don't succumb to the impersonal will of the universe.

Here is a scenario: Let's say you are planning for some international travel. Maybe you are a spy and have to go on a mission to Moscow, Russia. Or maybe you are a rich person and have to go on a vacation to an island. Either way, you will have to hop aboard a plane.

Planes aren't technically dangerous -- you only have a one in 4.7 million chance of being killed in a crash -- but that doesn't mean you won't be that one person because while Americans are strong, they are also narcissists and that means that everything that can happen probably will happen to us.

When it comes to plane crashes, "there's a fine line between victims and survivors a lot of times," said Chief Rick Wilson of the Allegheny County Airport Authority Fire Rescue Department in an interview with a Pittsburgh CBS affiliate. So, it is up to us to thoroughly prepare for any emergencies.

I'm sorry to report that we are all going to have to start dressing like safari explorers to ride on planes. That means slim-fit cargo shorts or pants, sensible sneakers, a sports bra for ladies and a shirt that wicks. That way, you'll be better equipped to run away from burning wreckage.

The first trick to surviving a plane crash happens during boarding. When you make your way to your seat, you have to count how many rows there are to an exit so that you'll be able to find your way out even if the air is cloudy with smoke and the screams of the ill-prepared.

If you are on a plane that is beginning to crash (and most crashes happen during take-off and landing), Wilson advised: "We want to protect our hands. We want to get ourselves into a position where nothing can fall from overhead on our hands, and we're as far forward as can be." He added that you want to protect your hands in particular because they are important tools when it comes to making escapes and forging post-crash friendships with the other uber-humans who managed to survive alongside you.

Now, when it is time to get out of your seat, you must remember that the seat belt is unfastened by lifting the buckle not pushing it. Americans are strong and narcissistic but they are also obsessed with the automotive industry because of Henry Ford, meaning they think all seat belts are car seat belts and they just aren't.

"People push, push, push, push until somebody actually lifts and lets them out of their seat," Wilson said.

Once you're out, you'll have to find your way safely to an exit, and that means avoiding smoke and toxic fumes. For that reason, Wilson always carries a water bottle on flights (not to drink, because Americans only drink soda pop) but to use to soak a shirt in water which works well as a breathing filter. Then, to get to the exit you'll want to crouch-- but not crawl because you could get trampled to death which is not our intention --to the nearest exit and get away from the plane quickly because it might explode or something.

"It's the people who have a little bit of the preparedness and situational awareness who end up being the survivors," Wilson encouraged.

You have now learned how to survive a plane crash. In doing so, you have become one ounce less mortal. God bless America.

By Joanna Rothkopf

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Airplane America America Survives Crash Disaster Plane Crashes Preparedness Survival