Escaping down an airplane slide: Handy tips

Sliding down an airplane slide looks a bit to me like sliding down one of those inflatable slide rides you see at a fair, amusement park or a carnival. Apparently, it’s not the easiest way to depart an airplane, even if it’s a more common occurrence than one thinks. According the this article, every 11 days in the U.S. people yell, “Whee!” or “Bombs away!” or “@#$%##$!” as they swing onto the inflated rubber for a ride to the ground. I jazzed it up with the dialog, but those are the statistics reported by the National Transportation Safety Board in 2000.

If the accident rate of the carnival rides was the same as an airplane slide, I’d say that ride would be shut down–or maybe kids and adolescents are just better at sliding than adults. When airplanes are tested, escape drills are part of the process. When the Airbus A 380 was tested, 33 out of 873 people got hurt. Only one person actually broke something–an arm. The others got a slide burn. If you’ve ever had someone drag you across a carpet with your skin making contact, you’ll know what that’s like.

To prevent injuries, know what to do in case you have a trip down an inflatable airplane slide in your future. Here are the tips in summary, although, for some reason, I’ve ended up with more numbered points and added some embellishment. For more detailed instructions, read the article.

1. Figure out your escape route when you first sit down. Exactly how many rows are you away from an exit?

2. Read the emergency card, even if you’ve flown five billion times.

3. Leave the luggage behind.

4. Help others get the airplane door open if they are in a panic and fumbling.

5. If you can’t get out one exit, look for another

6. Jump onto the slide, don’t try to sit down. Yell, “Whee!” for extra fun. (I added that just in case jumping makes you nervous. The whee might distract you.)

7. Cross your hands over your chest and put your heels up to avoid “unintentional cartwheels” as Amanda Ripley, the article’s author writes. She says this also helps control the impact when you meet the ground.

8. Women should not fly wearing spiked heels and pantyhose. Pantyhose can melt right on you. Gad!

9. When you reach the ground, hustle out of the way so there’s not some pile up at the bottom and someones foot doesn’t whack you in the head.

10 tips for smarter flying