Travel Smart Kit

OK, we’ve just had another “crazy” try to pull something on a Christmas Day plane — flight Northwest 253 — from Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, just before the plane landed in Detroit. He had already landed in Holland from Nigeria on a KLM plane, and his weapons were not found either time.

As a traveler, in the present time, you definitely have to be aware of what is happening around you.

Why did it take a brave, spry young Dutch film maker to climb over seats to grab the man and extinguish the flames and call instructions to others to bring additional water and fire extinguishers? The fire burned for at least one minute — a huge amount of time in an enclosed space with limited air change capability.

Here’s a portion of the New York Times article:
“Jasper Schuringa, a Dutch film director seated in the same row as Mr. Abdulmutallab but on the other side of the aircraft, saw what looked like an object on fire in the suspect’s lap and “freaked,” he told CNN. “Without any hesitation, I just jumped over all the seats,” Mr. Schuringa said, in an account that other passengers confirmed.”I was thinking, Oh, he’s trying to blow up the plane. I was trying to search his body for any explosive. I took some kind of object that was already melting and smoking, and I tried to put out the fire and when I did that I was also restraining the suspect.” Mr. Schuringa said he had burned his hands slightly as he grappled with Mr. Abdulmutallab, aided by other passengers among the 289 on board, and began to shout for water. “But then the fire was getting worse, so I grabbed the suspect out of the seat,” Mr. Schuringa said. Flight attendants ran up with fire extinguishers, doused the flames and helped Mr. Schuringa walk Mr. Abdulmutallab to first class, where he was stripped, searched and locked in handcuffs. “The whole plane was screaming — but the suspect, he didn’t say a word,” Mr. Schuringa said. He shrugged off praise for his swift action, which he said was reflexive. “When you hear a pop on the plane, you’re awake, trust me,” he said. “I just jumped. I didn’t think. I went over there and tried to save the plane.” ”

What were the perpetrator’s seat-mates doing?! Or, the other people in the first seats across the aisle? As Jasper shows, you have to be alert, and brave if necessary.

Every time I travel, whether by car, train or aircraft, I always have emergency gear with me! Do you put together a survival kit? What if you landed in the snowy mountains during winter or on an island in the middle of nowhere? A few well-chosen items can make the difference.

OK, we know they will not let us have some things in the cabin, but you might still put a Swiss Army knife in your checked bag, hoping you would find it later. But you can put life-saving, compact emergency blankets in a fanny pack to wear on you throughout the flight. It will always be with you and you won’t spend a moment getting gear, in an emergency. Along with some other important items like a Mag-Lite compact torch with extra batteries, add an extra and charged cell-phone battery, basic first aid gear, fishing gear, a collapsible cup, a mirror or a metal reflector surface, strike-anywhere matches covered in paraffin (would these be allowed, not sure), a magnesium fire-starter block, some dry kindling cotton and small wood chips in a baggie, nuts and compact food bars, medicines – if needed and a folded, laminated map of the general area covered by your flight.

That’s a start! And, it’s better than not being prepared. Plan for a good day, but also plan for other events.

The same holds true for man-made problems in cities where all you have is a hotel room. If you are in a hotel fire,you need to already have checked out the escape routes, and check those doors really open etc., as they are supposed to. Be ready to be stuck in your room, especially if it is a terrorist attack, as happened in Mumbai recently. Have a cache of food, flashlight with extra batteries, medical kit and mini-manual, as well as an understanding of what to do if a fire is happening in your building if you cannot escape your room. Consider the following actions:

___ wet towels, roll and cover the outer hallway door gaps
___ fill the bath tub with water – for drinking and wetting towels for safety
___ put a person to wave a signal-stick / pole / unplugged floor lamp with shade at the window at all times while keeping low on the floor
___ wet rags or towels over everyone’s nose
___ stay low to the floor
___ turn off ventilation system and cover vents so less smoke enters your room
___ have some of the available one-time use respiratory hoods for use in a fire, especially if you have children or babies, which allow for breathing about 20 – 30 minutes of pure air or the minimum is a mask for protection from particulates so you are breathing in less smoky matter. All this equipment is available online, but you need to educate yourself, as there are poor as well as excellent products. *
___ bar the door, if it is a terror attack
___ tie together sheets, if on a low enough floor of the hotel (but only as a very last resort etc.) are first things I think of to consider.

The world is increasingly complex, and yet we want to be able to enjoy it and be engaged, not hiding at home. So, plan a little on the side of being able to deal with problems, but then go out and have fun!

* as examples of sites to study:
U.S. Government report on emergency masks
Smoke Hoods with air supply capability example

(c)2009 mystic at

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