There were two bad turbulence incidents this week on opposite sides of the globe, and in both cases there were injuries. Don’t let it happen to you.
Flying is Safe but Turbulence Happens
The main thing to know is that flying is the safest mode of transportation. And extreme turbulence is rare. And pilots try to avoid turbulence. Sometimes though, it comes out of nowhere.
“Turbulence is air movement that normally cannot be seen and often occurs unexpectedly. It can be created by many different conditions, including atmospheric pressure, jet streams, air around mountains, cold or warm weather fronts or thunderstorms. Turbulence can even occur when the sky appears to be clear.” - FAA
Most of the time, turbulence means little more than a bumpy ride. In rare cases, it can get extreme, with emphasis on ‘rare’. Former flight attendant Gary Taylor said he only experienced such turbulence once in his 30+ year career with Delta. He added, “Aircraft are built for extreme turbulence so you are safe – although you may be really, really scared.” Bottom line: It pays to be ready.
How to Protect Yourself during Turbulence
Some of this advice comes from the FAA and some of it comes from airline crews:
- Buckle up: If you are in your seat, keep your seat belt fastened. Avoid unnecessary trips down the aisle.
- Buckle up children: Be sure your children are buckled up. And consider buying a seat for your toddler even if the child is under two years and can be seated on your lap; the FAA says this may not be safe during turbulence. The only reason they don’t make this a rule is because the financial hardship may force some families to drive instead of fly, which is a more dangerous mode of transporation.
- Listen to flight attendants: Safety is their number one job. Pay attention to them.
- Stow your stuff: Injuries can occur when improperly stowed baggage goes flying. Be sure your property is in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.
- If you’re in the lavatory: Most airline lavatories are required to have grab bars. If you’re in the restroom when turbulence hits, grab them. Wait until things calm down before exiting.