Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 suffered a major engine failure after a shrapnel had pierced the plane's fuselage, causing a window to blow out and the cabin to depressurize. It led to the death of one passenger.
During the emergency landing on Tuesday, April 17, passengers were asked to wear their oxygen masks for safety reasons. Not having enough oxygen in high altitudes can result in loss of consciousness, which might hamper evacuation procedures in case it's needed.
Passenger Bobby Martinez shared a photo of the incident on Facebook, showing the oxygen masks hanging from the plane's ceiling and several people wearing them. Wearing them incorrectly, that is.
Don't Wear An Oxygen Mask Like This
Bobby Laurie, a former flight attendant, then shared one of Martinez's photos on Twitter and added a reminder. In his post, Laurie stressed that passengers should cover both their mouth and nose with the oxygen mask during an emergency. Apparently, the people in the photo only had their mouth covered.
PEOPLE: Listen to your flight attendants! ALMOST EVERYONE in this photo from @SouthwestAir #SWA1380 today is wearing their mask WRONG. Put down the phone, stop with the selfies.. and LISTEN. **Cover your NOSE & MOUTH. #crewlife #psa #listen #travel #news #wn1380 pic.twitter.com/4b14lZulGm — Bobby Laurie (@BobbyLaurie) April 17, 2018
It's dangerous to be inside an airplane thousands of feet above the ground and has a hole in it. At altitudes beyond 15,000 feet, passengers will struggle to breathe and maintain enough oxygen in their system. The worst case scenario is they will lose consciousness, a phenomenon called hypoxia.
How To Wear An Oxygen Mask Correctly
To avoid it from happening, a passenger needs a 100 percent oxygen flow, provided, of course, that they wear the oxygen mask correctly and not like the people depicted in Martinez's photo. If a person only covers his mouth or only his nose, they might not get enough oxygen into their bloodstream, thus, putting them at risk of hypoxia.
According to a flight attendant, here's how to wear an oxygen mask the correct way, as reported by Washington Post.
"In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally."
The Flight 1380 fiasco occurred when the plane was 31,000 feet in the air, as Forbes reported. According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, an emergency at that altitude would have only given passengers 30 seconds to wear their oxygen masks.
Oxygen flow is critical in emergencies such as what happened to Flight 1380. Passengers need to be properly oxygenated to avoid passing out as they won't be able to evacuate immediately when they're unconscious, thus, further complicating safety operations.
However, oxygen masks are only a temporary solution. They will only work for a short time, during the time that the pilot gets the plane to a lower altitude where the masks are no longer needed.
The best thing a passenger can do during a plane emergency is to stay seated, keep kids nearby, pay attention to what flight attendants say, get into position if the plane is going to make an emergency landing, and only reach for the oxygen masks once they're deployed.
Keeping calm is the golden rule of emergencies, and it applies to planes as well.