Seat belts reduce airplane turbulence injury risk
On my most recent airplane flight, we hit a bit of turbulence during the descent --enough to make the plane dip sharply and cause some passengers, myself included, to exclaim things like "whoa!" But because we were landing, we'd been told to fasten our seat belts and nobody tumbled out of his seat.
That incident doesn't hold a candle to the one that occurred Tuesday, in which 25 people on a United Airlines flight out of Dulles International Airport were injured when their plane encountered severe turbulence. The aircraft apparently dropped dramatically and then abruptly stopped falling, causing people to bounce around the cabin. Most of the resulting injuries were said to be relatively minor, though one passenger's were described as serious.
It's not clear how many of the injured were wearing seat belts or whether they'd been advised to do so. But according to the Federal Aviation Administration, seat belts are essential to preventing turbulence-related injuries. The FAA recommends passengers wear their belts throughout the flight, even when the seat-belt light has been turned off.
I'm one of those uptight folks who obey that advice. It can be hard, especially on a long flight, to keep yourself strapped in. And even the FAA says only about 60 people a year are injured during turbulence. But almost of all those hurt, the FAA says, were sans seat belts.
Okay, 'fess up: Do you wear your seat belt during the entire flight? Please vote in today's poll and comment if you're so inclined.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
July 22, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: General Health
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