Emergency Equipment

Emergency equipment on just about any airline aircraft consists of the following: fire extinguishers, crash ax, megaphone(s), flashlights, first aid kits, life vests, escape ropes, protective breathing equipment (PBE), Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs), and for some - life rafts. A brief description of this emergency equipment follows

Everyone is familiar with fire extinguishers. However, the extinguishers on an aircraft are a bit different from what you might see in the home or business. Water extinguishers are much like you have seen and contain a mixture of water and anti-freeze. They are used for Class A fires which are basically paper, rubber, and wood fires. Just like at home, don't use these on an electrical or grease-type fire. Halon extinguishers contain a liquefied gas agent under pressure. Halon is used on electrical, fuel, and grease fires and basically smothers the fire when applied. These fire extinguishers are found throughout your aircraft, including the flight deck, and are major items that your flight crew checks as part of their preflight checks. They check that it is safety-wired or that a safety pin is installed (to ensure that it hasn't been discharged), or that a needle is in the green band (indicating the proper pressure and/or quantity is full).

A crash ax is usually located on the flight deck, and as you can imagine, can be used for a wide variety of things!

The megaphone(s) would provide an alternate means of communications to everyone, especially for emergency instructions, in case power was lost to the public address (PA) system.

Emergency flashlights are located by the doors and are self-powered and are high intensity. They have a flashing LED (Light Emitting Diode) that flashes continuously to show that it is working and is also a major item for the flight attendants to check on their preflight checks.

Other emergency equipment that the flight attendants must check are first aid kits, including the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED). Most aircraft can have an Enhanced Emergency Medical Kit (EEMK), Reserve Emergency Medical Kit (REMK), and a Universal Precautions Kit (UPK). All of these kits contain basic medicines and equipment that licensed medical providers (doctors, nurses, and paramedics) could use in case of an medical emergency. For more information on medical emergencies, please see our page - Medical Emergency. The UPK is used for potential infectious cases involving human blood and other body fluids. All of these kits are sealed, the flight attendants must check these seals. If the seals are broken, or used inflight, the Captain must notify the Maintenance Department and there can be flight dispatch requirements that might have to be adhered to. This is true of most of the other emergency equipment. The AED can be used by trained personnel and can develop electrical shocks to passengers experiencing cardiac arrests or heart rhythm abnormalities. It can also be used to monitor a person's heart rhythm.

One life vest is supplied per seat, usually located underneath the seat in front of you. If you have to use it, make sure that you don't inflate it before you leave the aircraft! While the flight attendants will give a demo of how to wear the life vest in the safety brief if an overwater flight is expected (more than fifty miles from shore), rarely do people think about all the airports that are located near major water in the first place! As evidenced by the USAir flight ditching into the Hudson River, I would say you are more likely to have to use a life vest during the takeoff or landing phase of your flight. This is why you should be doubly attentive to how to put this vest on. In these phases of flight, you will probably not have too much time to get ready for a ditching or evacuation.

Along with life vests for water survival, in many aircraft, especially wide-body aircraft (international, over ocean), life rafts will be installed. Depending on the aircraft you are on, these can be found in various places. Some are in the overhead ceiling above the aisle near the window exits. Some aircraft even use the evacuation slide as a life raft! Of course, the life rafts installed must have enough capacity for every passenger seat and crew. These life rafts will have survival kits that will contain things such as a canopy to put over the raft to keep the elements and hot sun out, signal flares, knives, etc.

Escape ropes are located in the flight deck above a window on each side for each pilot; and in the cabin near the window exits. These ropes above your window exits can be tied to attachment points on the wings to aid in evacuation and/or getting into life rafts.

PBEs are breathing equipment used by the crew to help protect the eyes and breathing in a heavy smoke situation. It is a hood assembly with a clear visor you pull over your head. It is sealed around the neck and an oxygen chemical canister is activated that will provide 15-20 minutes duration.


ELTs are usually installed in the evacuation slides and/or life rafts. They will automatically transmit when submerged in water. They can transmit from 50 to 100 hours depending on model and will continuously transmit on "Guard" frequencies. These are frequencies reserved for emergencies and are 121.5 Mhz on Very High Frequency (VHF) and 243.0 Mhz on Ultra High Frequency (UHF).

Your flight crew is trained on all this emergency equipment and is ready to assist you in case there is a medical emergency, aircraft emergency, ditching, or evacuation. In the very small chance that you would encounter such situations, it will always be helpful to know and be prepared to help yourself and others with the proper use of this emergency equipment if need be.



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Copyright 2009-2013 myairlineflight.com