Being Safety Conscious

FLYING 35,000 feet [11 km] above the earth can be a scary experience for some. It may seem to violate the laws of nature. As the safety standards and the reliability of air travel have reached new heights, the possible dangers of darting through the atmosphere inside a thin metal tube have become minimal. Once in a while, however, harsh reality reminds us that accidents can happen.

Coping With Fear

Despite that reality, since time immemorial, man has expressed a desire to fly. Ten centuries before Christ, King David wrote: “O that I had wings as a dove has! I would fly away.” (Psalm 55:6) As has already been shown, modern technology has made flying one of the safest modes of transportation. No, it is not perfect. Nothing in this world is perfectly safe or fully predictable.

That is vital to remember if we find it difficult to react rationally when someone  else is in control. Some people may tend to think, ‘The more I can take charge here, the less scary the situation.’ If that is the case, such people may have a difficult time in situations where they have very little or no opportunity to exercise control. Air travel presents one of those situations.

Despite efforts to improve flight safety, there is no room for complacency. All involved in air travel can cooperate in minimizing potential safety hazards. Still, authorities warn of ongoing threats. A wise Bible proverb says: “A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions.” (Proverbs 22:3, New Living Translation) It is wise to recognize that an element of risk will be involved  in practically any activity. To put things in perspective, remember that flying calls for the same precautionary common sense that you would use to protect your safety in other situations.

Frequent fliers may be better equipped to take care of themselves in these difficult times. This is because regular travelers are usually more familiar with airports and aircraft than are other passengers. You can achieve familiarity and calm similar to theirs by following the simple steps that are described in the accompanying boxes.

Navigating With Ease

While security checkpoints provide a necessary service, some travelers​—especially those in a hurry—​tend to consider them a nuisance. Having in mind the increased security at most airports, you may want to implement the following suggestions for easier passage:

▪ Arrive early. By planning to have some extra airport time, you can slow down, relax, and avoid the stress that can come with the unexpected or the inconvenient.

▪ When choosing an airline, look for one that caters to business travelers. They know the ropes, carry little with them, and want to move fast.

▪ Before you walk through the metal detector doorway, shed those items you think might set off the alarm. This includes keys, coins, jewelry, and cell phones. Hand them to an attendant as you prepare to step through the doorway.

▪ Lay bags and other carryons as flat as possible on the conveyor belt; if the person behind the X-ray monitor sees a jumbled image, he may want you to unpack your bag or put it through again.

▪ Alert the attendant to any unusual items that you anticipate will attract attention, such as that antique silver mandolin from your grandmother. Satisfied by a reasonable explanation for the strange shape on the monitor, the attendant is less likely to insist upon examining it. If you’re really pressed for time, unpack the item ahead of time and ask for a hand inspection.

▪ If the alarm goes off, be cooperative and provide an explanation immediately. If the attendant knows the alarm was caused by an isolated object and has a partner with a scanning wand, he will wave you on to him.

▪ One sure way to miss your flight is to joke about a hijacking or a bomb. In addition to undergoing a rigorous search by airport  security officials, you may be charged with an offense.

Have a Safe Flight!

Is it possible to choose a safe flight? Well, yes. No matter what flight you choose, your chances of arriving unharmed are superb. If in doubt, research the safety record of the airline you plan to use. Keep in mind that despite air accidents, flying is still considered one of the safest ways to travel.

Meanwhile, we can all look forward to a time​—under God’s rulership over the earth—​of safety, security, and trust. Within a God-fearing, peaceful human family, there will be no place for any who put human life at risk. People “will be safe and secure without fear of disaster.”​—Proverbs 1:33, Holy Bible—​Contemporary English Version. *


^ par. 19 For related articles see “Making Air Travel Safer,” Awake!, September 22, 2000; “Have a Safe Flight!Awake!, September 8, 2000; “What Does It Take to Keep Them Flying?Awake!, September 8, 1999; “How Safe Are Planes?Awake!, March 8, 1999; “Fear of Flying​—Does It Keep You Grounded?Awake!, September 22, 1988.

[Box/Picture on page 10, 11]


Fly nonstop routes. Most accidents occur during the takeoff, climb, descent, or landing phase of flight. Flying nonstop would reduce exposure to these most accident-prone phases of flight.

Choose larger aircraft. Aircraft with more than 30 passenger seats are generally designed and certified under stricter regulations than are smaller craft. Also, in the unlikely event of a serious accident, larger aircraft provide a better opportunity for passenger survival.

Pay attention to the preflight briefing. Although the information seems repetitious, the locations of the closest emergency exits may be different depending on the aircraft and the seat you are in.

Keep the overhead storage bin free of heavy articles. Overhead storage bins may not be able to hold very heavy objects during turbulence, so if you are carrying an article that you would have trouble lifting into the bin, check it in beforehand.

Keep your seat belt fastened while you are seated. Keeping the belt on when you are seated provides that extra protection you might need if the plane hits unexpected turbulence.

Listen to the flight attendants. The primary reason flight attendants are on an aircraft is for safety, so if one of them asks you to do something, do it first and ask questions later.

Do not carry any hazardous material. There are rather long lists of hazardous materials that are not allowed, but common sense should tell you that you should not take gasoline, corrosive materials, poisonous gases, and other such items on the aircraft unless they are allowed by the airline and shipped in a proper container.

Do not drink too much. Any alcohol you consume will affect you more strongly in the air than at sea level. Moderation is a good policy at any altitude.

Keep alert. In the unlikely event that an emergency situation arises, such as a precautionary emergency evacuation, you should follow the directions of the flight attendants and flight crew and exit the aircraft as quickly as possible.

[Credit Line]


[Box/Picture on page 12]


If you travel, here is how you can help your family to deal with their concerns.

Talk with your family. Before you leave on your trip, spend some time with your loved ones to discuss your safety as well as theirs. Explain the new safety measures that have been taken and what they mean for your safety while traveling.

Allow them to express their concerns. Let your family talk about their feelings of anxiety. They love you and only want you to be safe. Listen carefully and without judgment, acknowledging all of their fears and concerns seriously.

Give honest reassurance. Talk about how various agencies are trying to prevent further terrorist attacks. These efforts include heightened security measures at airports as well as on board planes. The likelihood of something bad happening while you are on a plane is quite small.

Stay in touch. Promise to call when you arrive at your destination. Continue to call home regularly while you are away. It is also important that your family knows how to contact you if emergencies arise.

[Credit Line]

Taken from the United Behavioral Health Web site

[Pictures on page 10]

Be willing to cooperate at security checkpoints