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What does ‘brace for impact’ really mean?

15 December 2011
What does ‘brace for impact’ really mean?

In the case of US Airways Flight 1549, now known as the “Miracle on the Hudson”, Captain Chelsey Sullenberger and his crew managed to avert disaster by affecting a water landing; however, one outcome of that event was the fact that many passengers were ill equipped to handle an air emergency. Even though we are briefed before each flight on the emergency procedures, the passengers did not know what to do when the captain announced “Brace for impact.”

So, most passengers understand that in the event of an emergency, we are to leave our belongings behind so we can move quickly to safety, use the floor lighting to find the nearest exit, and when using the emergency chute, we go down feet first and move out of the way as quickly as possible when we get to the bottom.

Given the relative safety of air flights, what we haven’t heard in some time is “Brace for impact.”

The brace position is described as:

  1. Placing your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Tuck your arms and elbows close to your sides.
  3. Bend forward, over your thighs, as tightly as possible.
  4. Tucking your head on or as close as possible to, the surface you are most likely to strike when slammed forward. That is, the seat in front of you or the bulkhead, depending on your position in the plane.

The reason for this position is that it is intended to deliver maximum protection as the risk of head trauma is significantly reduced during the crash in this position. Less head trauma means more conscious passengers, which is also critical for quick evacuation.Passengers on the January 15th, 2009 flight 1549 had no warning of the impending impact except the pilot’s command, supported by flight attendant commands to brace, keep their heads down, and stay down. All 155 people on board survived with no life-threatening injuries.

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Damian Tysdal
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DamianTysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.