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Airline Travel Information & Safety Tips

Basic Cabin Safety Tips - Adult & Children

Listen to the pre-flight safety briefing.

Read the safety data card in the seat pocket in front of you.

When in your seat, keep your seat belt on. These NTSB accident reports of seat belt and turbulence related accidents provide an indication to what may happen to unbelted occupants

Once you reach your seat, locate the closest emergency exit in front and behind you, and then count the seat rows to reach those emergency exits. This will be very helpful in case of evacuation in a smoke filled airplane.

What to Wear to Reduce your Risks In the unlikely event of an airplane evacuation via escape slides, synthetic fibers can become very hot due to friction, and melt causing first, second and even third degree burns to the body and legs. The following steps should be taken when traveling to ensure passenger comfort and safety.

Wear clothes made of natural fibers such as cotton, wool, denim, and leather. These fibers offer the best protection during an airplane evacuation or fire. Synthetics such as rayon, polyester, and nylon (especially in hosiery) can melt when heated.

Wear clothing that is non-restrictive.

Wear long pants and long sleeves. Avoid wearing shorts or skirts since these types of clothes do not appropriately cover extremities.

Wear low-healed laced or strapped shoes, boots, or tennis shoes. High heeled shoes will have to be removed before leaving the airplane via an escape slide. This will slow your departure from the airplane and put you at risk for severe injury from possible hazards such as broken glass, or metal debris. Avoid wearing sandals for the same reasons.

Top 10 Safety Tips for Traveling With Children

Traveling with children, especially infants and toddlers, puts special demands on the adults responsible for their well being. Based on analyses of dozens of aviation incidents and accidents involving children and on my own experience as a traveling parent, here are ten tips that can make the trip safer for the child.

Plan ahead: Planning ahead is essential for an air trip of any length when children are involved. Ask yourself what supplies you will need to have on hand to take care of any normal or special needs for the child. Remember, it is the airline's responsibility to carry passengers to their destination, but it is the responsibility of the parent or responsible adult to take care of any children.

Use a child restraint system for children under 40 pounds (18.1 kilos): The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration strongly recommends that children weighing less than 40 pounds be put into a child restraint system appropriate for their weight. Some restraint systems, such as a "belly belt" that attaches the child to an adult seat belt, are banned by the FAA.

When deciding to use a child restraint system, you may have to deal with issues of safety, economics, and convenience. In my own case, when my child was under two, I never purchased a seat in order to use a child restraint system because doing so would have cost me several hundred dollars. That cost was the difference between taking the trip and staying home. A recent trip when my child was over three showed me that the inconvenience of carrying an approved car seat on and off airplanes and through airports was also not worth the hassle. Based on my experiences, I recommend the following:

Find a way to conveniently carry an appropriate child restraint system through airports and into and out of aircraft If the child is over the age of two and less than 40 pounds (18.1 kilos), follow the FAA recommendations for using child restraint systems.

If the child is under two, bring along an appropriate child restraint system and arrange to sit next to an empty seat

Prepare for possible emergencies: Make sure you are aware of emergency equipment or procedures that would apply to your child:

Pay attention to the standard preflight emergency briefing Ask a flight attendant if that particular aircraft has emergency equipment like life preservers specifically designed for small children If your child has a medical condition that may become an issue during the flight, make a flight attendant, counter agent, or gate agent aware of that possibility before the flight

Take all essential items for the children in carry on luggage: Assume the worst, that the aircraft will have every seat filled, that the lavatories will not have changing tables, that the airline will not have any food suitable for your child, that you will be delayed for several hours during the trip, and that any checked luggage will be lost. Carrying all the child's essentials is especially important if your child is on a special diet or on medication.

Keep your children under control at all times: YOU and not the flight attendant is responsible for supervising your child at all times. During a very long flight from Australia to the U.S., I observed a parent traveling alone with a child fall asleep and then saw their toddler wander down the aisle. I paid it little mind until a few minutes later when a flight attendant carrying the child woke up the parent and informed her that the child had been wandering around the one of the aircraft galleys - a place with all sorts of dangerous hot or sharp surfaces that could have easily injured the child. No matter how tired you may get, your child is still your responsibility. You should also be careful when walking about the aircraft with your child so that they don't reach out and grab at cups of hot coffee, silverware, and other hazards.

Seat your child away from an aisle: Small children enjoy reaching out and exploring, but if they are on the aisle they could get hurt if their little arms get bumped by a person or serving cart passing down the aisle. Ideally, two responsible adults should sit on either side of the child. Also, one can seat the child on a row with a window on one side and a responsible adult on the other.

If emergency oxygen masks are ever deployed, put on your mask first: This advice may seem cruel, but there is a very practical reason for it. If the brain is starved of oxygen (hypoxia), one can get confused or pass out and be unable to help themselves or their child. By putting on their mask first, the parent or responsible adult will reduce their chance of falling victim to hypoxia and will be able to help their child.

Keep your child belted in or in a child restraint system at all times: This is for the same reasons given in my more general Top 10 Air Traveler Safety Tips page. Turbulence can happen at any time and without warning, so keep your child belted in as much as possible. If the child, wants to get up and move around, let them do so only if the seat belt sign is off.

Bring along safe toys: Try to avoid bringing along toys that are sharp, heavy, or that break easily. If the child has an electronic game, only allow them to use it during the cruise portion of flight. Electronic games may interfere with an aircraft's navigational system during other phases of the flight.

Take extra precautions for children traveling alone: The older child traveling alone needs extra protection as well:

Escort the child onto the aircraft and make sure the seat they are in does not have hazards like heavy carry on items in the overhead storage bin Inform the chief flight attendant that the child is traveling alone Arrange with the airline to make sure that the person meeting the child at the destination is properly identified Make it clear to the child that they should report any problems to a flight attendant. This could range from feeling sick to having a suspicious character seated next to them. If the child has to change planes, make arrangements for the child to be escorted between gates. This usually costs extra and is required for small children and is recommended for older children, especially those old enough to do it on their own but not mature enough to deal with potential problems or temptations at a busy airport

Disclaimer: These tips represent the opinions of the author and unless noted do not reflect the opinion, analysis, or regulation of any airline, aircraft manufacturer, aviation organization, or government agency