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What is the safest and fastest solution (method) in this situation?

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking in the context of a depressurization event at high altitude? $\endgroup$ – J Walters Mar 4 '17 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ Punch the guy next to you and grab his. Otherwise you will probably pass out, but it's unlikely you'll die. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Mar 4 '17 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ Have any commercial airliner passengers ever died of hypoxia due to a depressurization event? $\endgroup$ – Tanner Swett Mar 5 '17 at 0:55
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    $\begingroup$ @TannerSwett You may want to open a new question to ask that. But there was one commercial flight that I know of where all the passengers died after a depressurization, although they probably died on impact but were all unconscious, including the pilots. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Mar 5 '17 at 2:59
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    $\begingroup$ The best thing you can do is basically nothing other than remain clam and follow crew instructions. As long as the pilots have oxygen, you'll be fine. You might pass out, but you'll regain consciousness once the aircraft has returned to a lower altitude. There are generally no long-term adverse effects. Now, if the pilots pass out, that's more problematic. $\endgroup$ – reirab Mar 5 '17 at 6:28
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If you are asking about all or some of the masks as your title suggests, it has happened before.

One such example from 2008 is Qantas Flight 30.

After the accident, numerous passengers said that some oxygen masks did not deploy, whilst others had deteriorated elastic. Consequently, it was reported that one passenger smashed a panel of the ceiling to attempt to gain access to the masks. It was stated that these passengers were deprived of oxygen until the plane was lowered to a breathable altitude.

Best thing to do is to stay clam, and to breathe slowly/normally (deep calm breaths).

Worst case scenario if a person is a smoker and obese, they'll pass out but will regain consciousness when the pilots reach a lower altitude. In a rapid depressurization emergency, the pilots act quickly to descend, it will be a matter of few minutes until the air would have sufficient oxygen again.

Pilots have different mask systems that should be tested routinely.


Related:

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    $\begingroup$ Also of note, don't try to hold your breath: In a rapid depressurization event you should breathe normally to let the air pressure in your lungs equalize with the now-reduced cabin pressure, otherwise there's a chance - albeit small, that you could be injured. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Mar 4 '17 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ Can they be manually released? What can I do quickly and effectively besides the deep calm breaths? $\endgroup$ – Erika Latt Mar 4 '17 at 20:46
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    $\begingroup$ @ErikaLatt mask panels can be manually released, but that isn't something you as a passenger should be trying to do. To be blunt the best thing you can do for your own safety (and the safety of others) is to remain in your seat and try - as much as possible under the circumstances - to remain calm. Releasing your seatbelt to get a mask from another row or otherwise acting in panic is more likely to injure or kill you or someone else than a few minutes of mild hypoxia. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Mar 4 '17 at 22:13

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