The next time you’re on a flight, don’t let anyone tell you not to take a deep breath.
As one of the oldest surviving members of the United States Air Force, you’ve probably seen or experienced that feeling of panic and dread when you’re not sure whether your plane is going to be a disaster.
It’s called hypoxia.
It happens when the oxygen in your blood starts to drop below the safe level.
If it’s too low, you can experience dizziness, a loss of consciousness, muscle spasms, and even a heart attack.
If you’re a firefighter, it can lead to life-threatening chest compressions.
But if you’re an airplane mechanic, you’re also in danger.
When a pilot or crew member is experiencing hypoxmia, they’re more susceptible to being seriously injured.
That’s why the Air Force has a goal to make it easier for all pilots and crews to survive a hypoxial accident.
The goal is to improve the pilot-crew communication so that pilots don’t have to be physically present during a hypoxic emergency.
But that means you should also be taking steps to keep your oxygen levels above the safe limits.
Take a breath before takeoff When a plane is in flight, it’s the job of the pilot to keep it as stable as possible.
As you descend, the pilot needs to keep his or her oxygen level above the “safe” level.
That means maintaining your posture, breathing, and maintaining your balance.
If the pilot’s oxygen level drops below the level that’s safe for a pilot, he or she could be in danger of getting hypoxaemic.
In fact, the Air Department recommends that pilots take a breath when they get off the plane, because the risk of a hypovolemic reaction is higher when the air pressure is too low.
Prepare for hypoxemia While flying, take several precautions to keep yourself and your passengers healthy.
Use a nasal mask to prevent breathing in the air or a face mask if you can’t breathe.
If your oxygen level falls too low or the air temperature gets too low during takeoff, it could be too much for the cabin crew to handle.
Get medical help As soon as you can, immediately call 911.
The National Transportation Safety Board recommends that all pilots take the following steps: Take a breathing mask if breathing is too difficult to manage or breathing is not safe for you or others.
If breathing becomes difficult or you feel unwell, call 911 immediately.
Do not breathe during a fire or explosion.
If a pilot is experiencing breathing problems during takeoff or descent, they can contact an air ambulance or take a flight home.