When writing this blog about safety issues when travelling, I realised that it is just slightly longer than I would like a blog post to be. Also as the blog is about safety both before and during the your trip, it means it was quite natural to clip it in two at that point. If you missed the first part, you can find it by clicking here.
As I had a pleasure to work as a Cabin Crew for several European airlines for eight years, and having the chance to learn about safety from my more experienced colleagues during all those years, I decided to use those experiences and the information gained from the trainings, and of course from the experiences that we both Queens have had over the years of travelling across the globe.
So, without further ado, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
How To Be Safe In An Airplane?
Why airplanes, I hear you asking. Well, mainly because most of us travel by airplanes, and I have most experience in working in them. And in case you might wonder, yes, these safety procedures can and should be used on other modes of transportation (such as cruise liners, and even trains). And as many of these tips take just a moment, you should consider using them.
Safety Cards – Remnants Of A Bygone Age?
No, not at all. So for a moment, stop being too cool to look at the safety card (which is conveniently located in your seat pocket), even if you hide the true purpose to sniggering to the bad artwork. And if you don’t have the safety card in the seat pocket, please ask the cabin crew for one – it is your right to get accustomed to the safety procedures in all transport. And if you consider on snatching one to your bag – don’t. Stealing a safety card (or any safety equipment on board) is actually a criminal offence.
What Did The Cabin Crew Just Say?
Those of us who travel a lot grow a bit bored of the same routine of listening to Cabin Crew demonstrating the safety features on the plane. To increase the safety awareness, many companies have actually allowed some deviations from your basic video and demonstration – but the core information is still there. Like in this Air New Zealand video. Also the US based Southwest Airlines is Internet famous for their safety demonstrations.
Also, just to be safe, keep your seat belt fastened throughout the flight. I noticed that at least Lufthansa says that it is the responsibility of the traveller to make sure that the belt is fastened (which used to be only a recommendation). I can understand where this comes from as I have witnessed first hand a clear air turbulence. Thankfully only once during my eight years as Cabin Crew. But it was terrifying, as I was standing in the front part of the plane, and suddenly felt my feet leave the floor. Immediately we sat down, and strapped on, and about 15 seconds later we saw the rear part of the plane jump up about 2-3 meters and then dropped down, before stabilising. Thankfully that first warning allowed the people to fasten their belts as well.
Exits? Isn’t It The Door I Came In From?
It may be, or it may not. That’s why it is a good practice to orient yourself after settling
down to your seat. Count the rows to the exits around you, even behind you, as it might be closer. It is good to know where the exits are in case of an emergency where some of the exits might not be used.
Why count the rows? I learned this from a blind passanger who literally cannot see where the exits are. But by counting the rows, they know exactly where to go. This simple trick applies to situations where there might be smoke in the cabin and one has to be near the floor. It also keeps you calm, as you need to concentrate on something else than panicking.
What About Other Forms Of Transportation?
You might be wondering if the above information is valid anywhere else than in an airplane. Yes it is, and it should be used and adapted to which ever form of transport you are in!
I have never been on a cruise liner where the cabins wouldn’t have an extensive safety card stuck on the wall near the door. Even on Stansted Express trains running from London Stansted Airport to Liverpool Street station in London there are safety announcements in place (and safety cards).
Speaking of cruises, it is also a good practice to count the cabins between you and the exit. In case of emergency there is always a possibility that some people flee the cabins and leave the doors open – and you don’t want to make a wrong turn and end up in one of the cabins.
Safely At Your Destination
As you can see, safety and safety issues are something that cannot be emphasised enough. Checking out your surroundings within 5 to 10 minutes before donning up your beachware and sun screen is a cheap life insurance.
Check the safety card in the hotel room, and orientate yourself to the nearest exits (and how many doors there are between you and the nearest fire exit – not a lift!) Why not a lift? If there is a fire in the building, you don’t want to get stuck in one.
Roughly ten years ago I was solo travelling in London and stayed in a rather grand hotel. At about midnight the fire alarm went off, and of course I wasn’t the only one peeking through the door before making a decision to quickly get dressed and to head down. Surprisingly enough, when I went, many people started to follow me. Some of them actually stayed and waited for a lift, even though there were big signs of “do not use the lifts in case of fire”. Luckily I wasn’t the only one heading down the stairs. We found out that the cause of the alarm was actually a burned toast, but still had to wait for the fire department to check out the building.
Anyway, after familiarising yourself with the safety card in your room, it’s a good thing to place the torch on the night stand, within easy reach from your bed. And whilst you are at it, it’s good to think of the following:
What To Take With You In An Emergency?
Passport and money. These are perhaps the most important things (after clothing), as there are situations where it is nigh impossible to pay with a card, especially if there is a catastrophic situation; if there is a large scale blackout, even the ATM’s most likely are without power. Passports and other valuables should be kept in a safe place, but where they are quick to grab should something unexpected happen.
Which reminds me. If you are travelling with a car, please, please make sure that your valuables are not left anywhere visible – even if you stop just for 10 minutes to take a few photos on a beautiful spot. I know of a case where a young couple left their mobile phones to the front seat (with the lady’s handbag containing their money, credit cards, and passports). They walked around a corner to snap a few photos, came back after few minutes just to find that everything, including their luggage from the trunk, had been stolen.
Water and small snacks. Keep an unopened water bottle on your night stand, next to
your torch. You should also have something small, such as raisins and/or nuts in a sealed bag next to it. In situations where your body needs to use the emergency supply of energy from the body, it is good to replenish it as soon as possible after the ordeal. This replenishment helps to keep your mind and body going on for longer. And fresh water is a necessity of survival.
And as we all are aware, it is good to recycle. If you use plastic bottles when travelling, please reuse them and bin them accordingly.
Warm clothing. There are situations when you just have to go wearing whatever you are wearing at that moment, but if you have a possibility, take with you something that you can wear to keep the cold away. It is good to remember that even in the tropics, especially if you are wet, hypothermia is always a possibility.
It’s Not All About Natural Catastrophes – My Wallet Was Stolen!
It may not be caused by Mother Nature, but there are pickpockets everywhere nowadays. And ending up with a lost wallet might be one of the top three catastrophes that bugs travellers. So consider these basics even though they might not be needed in your home country:
Zip Up Your Handbag And Hold It Under Your Arm
The closer you keep your handbag to your body, and under your eyes, the less likely it is to go missing. And also, please remember that you don’t need all of your credit and debit cards in there at all times, and you are not going to spend the whole amount of cash at one day that is supposed to last for the whole week. So leave some of them to the safety deposit box at the hotel.
Men – Take Your Wallet Away From The Back Pocket, Please!
This might be one of the most basic things that one thinks of, but sadly it still needs reminding. There were enough cases during my time as a Cabin Crew when passengers disembark and before they arrive to the luggage belt, thieves have already managed to get wallets from men. And as they are men, they usually carry the whole travel budget with them, in that one wallet that just got stolen.
Don’t Put All Eggs Into One Basket
This is one of the basics as well. Divide up your cash and cards. It might be that you get robbed, but at least this way the thieves don’t get all of your budget.
Is This All?
Sadly, no. It would we almost an impossible task to write a blog, or a book, that would list down all the possibilities that can happen when you travel. This blog is meant to wake you up to think what can happen when you travel, and start to prepare for those common incidents.
I have lost my wallet, my bank card, and my phone over the years when travelling, but did it deter me from continuing? No. Did I have a traveller’s insurance? No. It taught me things, and because of that I like to think I am more responsible traveller today.
It goes to show that you can, and should, travel. Just keep your wits about you and even though you might end up drinking yourself silly, remember that there are alternatives to walking back to hotel through empty alleys.
All information and advice presented in this blog are based on the first hand experiences of the author, and do not represent anyone else. The advise presented does not cover all possible situations, so if you think that something important has been left out please comment on the blog – we will update the blog when required.