Give travellers hands-on practice in donning life vests

I am a frequent traveller on commercial flights.

While on board a flight, it is standard practice for the cabin crew to conduct demonstrations on various safety procedures.

These include how to don the inflatable safety vests and use the attached whistle and beacon light, and how to put on the oxygen masks, as well as how to find the escape routes to the nearest exits in the aircraft. Similar demonstrations are sometimes shown on the video screens aboard certain flights.

It would be far better for passengers to have more hands-on practice in putting on safety vests.

Airlines should arrange for such instruction to be provided, especially for passengers who arrive at the boarding lounge well ahead of take-off time.

Humans learn better by actually doing the tasks rather than merely observing others.

Passengers are invariably engaged in hearty conversations or other tasks while waiting in the holding room.

The waiting period prior to boarding an aircraft is the most appropriate time to practise donning the vests until one becomes adept at it.

During emergencies, time is of the essence.

The cabin crew will certainly not be able to cope with the urgent requests of hundreds of passengers to assist them with their life vests.

I hope airlines will give some consideration to my proposal.

The same idea applies to commercial cruise ships, too.

Teo Kok Seah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2016, with the headline 'Give travellers hands-on practice in donning life vests'. Print Edition | Subscribe