Get a smoke hood...Its an extreme No Brainer: read on.
In a special program Sixty Minutes I believe, it was explained that most fatalities occur on the ground...Fires, smoke, and were survivable. that is if you could see, breathe, and your hair was not on fire. You can always use the smoke hood in your hotel as well. There are a few approved "passive" types that cover your head completely, seal at the neck, and have filtration to give you a couple of minutes to evacuate. The hood portion is Kapton fire retardant material so the dripping flaming plastic from the ceiling will be less likely to set your hair on fire. The acidic fumes will not get to your eyes so you will be better equipped to find the door in the dense smoke. better to have and not need than to need and not have.
2.3 The Cabin Environment
The presence of fire, smoke, or toxic fumes created evacuation difficulties in 11 of the evacuations reviewed. (This issue is discussed further in Section 3.)
In 3 of these 11 evacuations, there were 89 deaths and 25 serious injuries.
Visibility was severely restricted or totally obscured in four evacuations where a cabin fire existed.
The combination of fire, smoke, and/or toxic fumes was lethal in three of four occurrences where fatalities were incurred.
3.0 FIRE, SMOKE, AND TOXIC FUMES
Fire, smoke, and/or toxic fumes were present in three of four fatal
accidents examined in this study and caused serious injuries to many
of the survivors.
The following excerpts from the report of the occurrence at Calgary
help to illustrate the severe conditions that can exist during an
evacuation when fire, smoke, and/or toxic fumes are present.
Shortly after the evacuation commenced, fire melted windows along the
left side of the aircraft. When the windows melted through, heat and
smoke entered the aircraft, and the cabin environment quickly
deteriorated. Substantial quantities of smoke also entered through the
right over-wing exit and right rear service door.
Those passengers who had been seated beside the windows nearest the
fire experienced some singeing of hair and clothing. Smoke obscured
visibility almost totally during the latter stages of the evacuation.
Smoke conditions were worse in the aft section of the cabin.
Passengers who exited via the rear exit reported that they were unable
to see the exit and were required to follow the person ahead to locate
it. By the time most had reached this exit, the smoke had lowered to
about knee height. The bottom portion of the door and the slide were
all that was visible. The passenger who was the last one to exit via
the over-wing exit reported he had to drop to his knees to breathe
fresh air before he was able to reach the exit. Only when he neared
the exit, did it become visible through the smoke. (A84H0003)
The presence of fire, smoke, and/or toxic fumes presented the greatest
risk to a successful evacuation by restricting visibility, limiting
communications, reducing the number of available exits, affecting
passenger behaviour, and decreasing occupants' mental and physical
capacities. Fire, smoke, and/or toxic fumes were identified as hazards
in 11 evacuations and were present in three of four fatal occurrences.
Thick black smoke severely restricted or totally obscured visibility
in four occurrences where a cabin fire existed. As a result,
passengers were unable to see the exits. In Cincinnati, the location
of two passengers' bodies indicated that, in their attempt to get out
of the aircraft, they had unknowingly passed an available exit.5
In the same occurrence, cabin attendants who were exposed to smoke and
toxic fumes experienced great difficulty communicating orally. As a
result, some passengers were unable to hear the emergency briefing.
A reduction in the number of available exits was recorded in nine
occurrences. Fire and smoke also blocked egress in those occurrences
where breaks in the fuselage were avenues of escape.
In three occurrences, it was found that burns and inhalation of smoke
and toxic fumes limited passengers' mental and physical abilities,
thereby obstructing or prohibiting their attempts to reach, operate,
and negotiate emergency exits or egress through breaks in the
Existing Risk Mitigation
There are several regulatory provisions which are designed to protect
aircraft occupants from the risks associated with the presence of
fire, smoke, and toxic fumes and thus increase the chances for a
successful evacuation. As well, the industry has developed operating
procedures to reduce or eliminate the effects of these hazards to crew
and passengers. In the light of the high risks associated with the
presence of fire and smoke as evidenced by the Canadian experience,
the Board examined two areas of risk mitigation related to fire,
smoke, and toxic fumes, namely protective breathing equipment for both
crew members and passengers, and fire hardening of aircraft interiors.
These areas were examined in the context of their potential to limit
the risks encountered during the evacuation process.
3.1 Protective Breathing Equipment
She [the flight attendant] saw light grey smoke had filled the
lavatory from the floor to the ceiling, but she saw no flames. The
flight attendant closed the door but not before she had become dizzy
from inhaling the smoke. (A83F0006)
Twenty-three passengers died from smoke and toxic fume inhalation as a
result of an in-flight fire in the rear lavatory of a DC-9. (A83F0006)
The lavatory was completely filled with smoke that severely restricted
visibility and impaired breathing. As a result, the cabin attendant
in-charge was unable to locate the source and exact nature of the fire
or to fight it effectively. In the investigation report of this
occurrence, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) stated;
"... had an oxygen bottle with a full-face smoke mask been available
and used, it might have encouraged and enabled him to take immediate
and aggressive actions to fight the fire, as set forth in the company
Canadian Industry Practice
In addition to the protective breathing equipment (PBE) provided for
the flight crew, some air carriers provide at least one portable PBE
unit for crew members who may be required to fight cabin fires on
non-combi aircraft. Such units are normally located on the flight
deck. Portable PBE is carried either to fulfil operating requirements,
as specified in the type certification of some aircraft, or as a
result of a particular carrier's desire to enhance cabin attendants'
capabilities to fight fires. The TSB has been advised that some air
carriers do carry PBE units in the cabin.
Regulations in the United States and United Kingdom
PBE for flight crews has been a mandatory requirement in the United
States for over 45 years. In 1987, partly as a result of the DC-9
occurrence at Cincinnati, the FAA amended Federal Aviation Regulation
(FAR) 121-337, Protective Breathing Equipment, such that air carriers
operating transport category aircraft must provide PBE, not only to
flight crew, but also to other crew members who are responsible for
fighting fires on board the aircraft. One portable PBE unit is
required at each hand-held extinguisher station. There is no
requirement to provide passengers with any form of PBE; indeed, there
are regulations which specifically prohibit passengers from bringing
PBE which contains compressed oxygen on board air transport aircraft.
In the United Kingdom, PBE is mandatory for both flight and cabin
crew. Such equipment must be provided for each cabin attendant
required to be carried under safety regulations and must be readily
accessible to them at their assigned stations. Supernumerary cabin
attendants would not figure in the number of PBE units required. PBE
is not required for passengers.
Transport Canada Regulations
ANO Series II, No. 9, the Oxygen Equipment Order, stipulates PBE
requirements for operation of large commercial aircraft. PBE is
defined in the Order as "... equipment to cover the eyes, nose and
mouth, or the nose and mouth if accessory equipment is provided to
protect the eyes, that will protect the wearer from the effects of
smoke, carbon dioxide or other harmful gases." In accordance with the
Order, air carriers operating pressurized aircraft in a commercial air
service must provide "each flight crew member on duty at his station
protective breathing equipment." There is no regulatory requirement to
provide cabin attendants, other than those working on combi aircraft,
with PBE.7 Nevertheless, ANO Series VII No. 2, Section 45, "Emergency
Procedures Training" clearly implies that all cabin attendants are
expected to fight cabin fire.
Similarly, there is no regulatory requirement to provide passengers
with PBE. Several years ago, Transport Canada participated in an
international feasibility study addressing the safety benefit of
providing "smoke hoods"8 for passengers. The results of the study were
published by the CAA in 1987.9 It was concluded that the number of
lives saved by smoke hoods each year would be "modest" (179 lives over
20 years, or approximately 9 lives per year world-wide) and that the
time required to don the apparatus might increase the time required to
evacuate an aircraft, thereby causing a greater loss of life.
Mandatory carriage of smoke hoods as passenger safety equipment was
not recommended. Neither Transport Canada nor any of the other
countries who participated in the study (United Kingdom, United States
and France) have subsequently proposed any regulatory amendments to
require PBE for passengers.10
There remains the question of voluntary carriage of passenger PBE, by
or by individuals. In accordance with The Transportation of Dangerous
Goods Act, passengers travelling on Canadian commercial air carriers
are prohibited from bringing on board passenger transport aircraft
those smoke hoods which provide oxygen from a cylinder of compressed
gas. Introduction of oxygen into the cabin environment, other than the
oxygen found in the emergency overhead oxygen-mask system, which is
designed for passenger use during an in-flight depressurization, is
currently viewed as a hazard in the event of an in-flight fire.
However, small, gaseous oxygen or air cylinders required by passengers
for medical use are accepted as carry-on baggage or, with the
operator's approval, as checked baggage. Canada has recently asked
ICAO to examine, from a dangerous goods perspective, the issue of
smoke hoods containing a cylinder of compressed gas.
Passengers are permitted to carry filtration-type smoke hoods on board
Canadian aircraft but current filtration-type smoke hoods would not be
as effective as smoke hoods which have a self-contained source of
In the context of the actual evacuation process, there is no direct
evidence that a lack of PBE for cabin crew resulted in fatalities or
injuries during evacuations. Yet, there is a paradox in that cabin
attendants are expected to fight cabin fires, but, in many cases, they
are not provided with PBE in the aircraft cabin. Ready access to
portable PBE could improve their ability to fight fires and have the
effect of reducing the risks faced by occupants during an evacuation.
Therefore, the Board recommends that:
The Department of Transport require that sufficient portable
protective breathing equipment units with full-face masks be carried
in the passenger cabins of transport aircraft for cabin crew. A95-01
In the light of the number of fatalities that occur when fire, smoke,
and/or toxic fumes are present, the Board believes that further
research is required to determine whether passengers should be given
the opportunity to carry appropriate protective breathing equipment.
Accordingly, the Board recommends that:
The Department of Transport re-evaluate research regarding protective
breathing equipment (PBE) for passengers with a view to determining
the feasibility of the carriage of appropriate protective breathing
equipment, on a voluntary basis. A95-02