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Mental Health Center

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How to Survive a Plane Crash

FAA's Tips for Air Travelers
WebMD Feature

A JetBlue plane made an emergency landing Wednesday at Los Angeles International Airport due to landing gear problems. No one was hurt when plane landed safely, though one of the front tires burned up after touching down.

The incident was not a crash. But it may make some people wonder "what if" the worst had happened.

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"Accidents are survivable," says Cynthia Corbett, a human factors specialist at the Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute in Oklahoma City.

Corbett gave WebMD advice about surviving a plane crash.

Plan, Read, Listen

"There are things that a passenger can do to survive -- first and foremost, having a plan," Corbett tells WebMD.

"Read the safety briefing card on every single flight," she says. "Not all planes are the same. Not all planes within the same airline are the same."

"Even that flight you took last week that's the same one you're taking this week may have changed a plane. So it's really important to review the safety briefing cards [and] listen to the oral briefing of the flight attendants."

Flight attendants are "very highly trained in survival practices and procedures within aircraft," says Corbett. "They are trained to take care of the safety issues regarding air travel. Their primary jobs are not to serve us crackers and soda."

Dress for Survival

Before departing, give a little thought to your on-board wardrobe.

"Imagine having to run away from a burning plane," says Corbett. "If you have to do that, how well are your flip-flops going to perform? How well are your high-heeled shoes going to perform? When you're sliding down that fabric slide out of the plane, are pantyhose going to withstand?

"Shorts and skirts and high-heeled shoes just are not our preferred attire for flying, because it's hard to run in those kinds of shoes and actually escape when you're not clothed properly," Corbett continues.

"We like to see tie-on shoes that you're not going to run out of and long pants. Jeans are good. I know in the summer that's really tough, but short-shorts are just real dangerous in that event," says Corbett.

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