Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Wednesday, 1 July 2009 13:46 UK

How to survive a plane crash

Flying by plane is one of the safest forms of travel - only travelling by train is regarded as safer in terms of accidents per journey.

In 2008, the Aviation Safety Network recorded 32 crashes and 577 fatalities - but research suggests the majority of passengers involved in air accidents do survive.

An American study looked at 568 crashes between 1983 and 2000 and found 90% of the 53,487 passengers and crew survived.

Listed below are a few possible tips for surviving a plane crash.

Graphic showing how seatbelt releases

Always wear your seatbelt pulled as tight as possible to limit any movement in case of a crash.

Know how to undo your seatbelt - research suggests people often struggle to release the buckle in a crash because they are more familiar with the way a car seatbelt unlocks.

Graphic showing where to sit on plane

Sitting near an exit is likely to increase your chances of survival. Research suggests you have a greater chance of surviving an accident if you sit within seven rows of an exit. Count how many rows your seat is from the exit in case the cabin fills with smoke and visibility is limited.

Experts differ on the safest seats in a plane. A 2007 survey for Popular Mechanics magazine suggested passengers sitting at the back were more likely to survive than those sitting further forward, whereas a 2008 study by the Civil Aviation Authority found passengers sitting at the front had the greatest chance of escape during a fire on board.

Graphic showing brace positions

If the plane is about to crash, you may be told to adopt the brace position. In some economy class seats, there is not enough room to bend right down, so use your arms to support your head against the seat in front of you.

The idea is to get your upper torso as low as possible to limit the jackknife effect of the impact, and to prevent injury to your legs and ankles which might hinder your escape from the aircraft.

How to wear a lifejacket graphic

The safety briefing at the start of your flight should tell you where your lifejacket is stored - it is worth checking you know where it is.

If the plane crashes, put the lifejacket on but do not inflate it until you are safely outside the plane. - it will only get in the way as you try to get out.

Ben Sherwood, who has written a book on survival, also recommends keeping your shoes on so you can get out quicker.

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