If you fly regularly, you could probably repeat the pre-flight safety speech by heart. But you may not know the reasons behind the safety precautions, like why you’re supposed to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Well, George Hobica, the founder of Airfare Watchdog, went through the British Airways Flight Safety Awareness Course. And here’s what he learned:  

  • You need to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others because you may only have 15 or 20 seconds to do so. In the event of cabin decompression, when all oxygen would be sucked out of the plane and your lungs, you'd experience confusion and a euphoric "stoned" state within 15 to 20 seconds. By 30 to 45 seconds you'd probably pass out. So it's important to act quickly and help yourself, then help others.  

  • So why are the interior lights dimmed when the plane is landing? To get our eyes acclimated to the dark. Accidents typically happen during takeoff or landing, and if the cabin fills with smoke or it’s dark outside, you’ll have a better chance of seeing. That way you’ll be able to react more quickly, instead of waiting for your eyes to adjust. 

  • How about this one: why do some airlines ask us to put our shoes on before landing? Because the runway might be burning hot after you jump down the slide.  

  • Then you’ve heard what the proper brace position is in case of emergency. Tuck your body down and cover your head with your hands. That way, if something falls on you during a crash landing, your head is protected. But if you look closely at the safety card, you’ll notice something. The diagram shows a person with one hand over the other, protecting their head. The reason for this is because you want to protect at least one hand too, preferably your dominant hand because you'll need it to unbuckle your seat belt. So in the event of a crash, cover your head with your hands, but put your non-dominant hand on top.