General Question

rangerr's avatar

Why are you supposed to put the oxygen mask on yourself first on an airplane?

Asked by rangerr (15746points) July 23rd, 2010

On the plane to Colorado last week, I had a 45 minute conversation with the two guys I was sitting with about the oxygen masks.

Everyone knows that they say to put them on yourself before you attempt to help your child or anyone else sitting next to you.

The boys and I pretty much agreed that if we were in that situation with kids next to us, they would be first priority. We’d much rather make sure they are going to be okay than worry about ourselves first.

Why is it that you are supposed to come first in that scenario?
Have you ever had to use the masks? What would you do if it happened to you?

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16 Answers

shilolo's avatar

You can’t help them if you are unconscious or dead. Your first priority is to keep yourself awake and alert AND THEN help the kids. Most people can survive (even unconscious) without getting extra oxygen for several minutes, and will be readily revived once oxygen is provided. So if the kids pass out, but you are awake, you can put the mask on them. The opposite is unlikely to happen.

Lightlyseared's avatar

If you pass out from lack of oxygen you cant help anyone else.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Because, if you pass out before you get done putting the mask on the kids, who will put it on you? Even if your kid passes out, you still have 4–5 minutes to get their masks on without there being any long term damage.

rangerr's avatar

@WestRiverrat @Lightlyseared @shilolo Of course, the obvious answer is the one I don’t think of..

Trillian's avatar

You put your own mask on first so that you remain conscious enough to assist those who need your assistance.

TexasDude's avatar

I was about to put in a certain Fight Club quote, but I didn’t want to scare you.

I’m pretty sure that @Trillian‘s point is valid.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
charliecompany34's avatar

probably for the same reason only the allergic victim of bee stings can be the only one to inject his/her epee pin. the victim has the free will to choose to live or die.

sjmc1989's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard That was exactly what I was going do! Everyone has very realistic and of course valid points, but I also believe that Tyler Durden has a lot of truth to his theory as well.

Tyler Durden: [pointing at an emergency instruction manual on a plane] You know why they put oxygen masks on planes?
Narrator: So you can breathe.
Tyler Durden: Oxygen gets you high. In a catastrophic emergency, you’re taking giant panicked breaths. Suddenly you become euphoric, docile. You accept your fate. It’s all right here. Emergency water landing – 600 miles an hour. Blank faces, calm as Hindu cows.
Narrator: That’s, um… That’s an interesting theory.

To answer the question I would put the mask on a child before I would myself because that would be my first instinct and in events such as, a plane crash you go with your survival instincts.

Austinlad's avatar

The reasons stated above are correct, and they must be true because counting the number of times I flown in my life, I’ve heard it no less than 2,000 times!

Nullo's avatar

Oxygen deprivation doesn’t set in instantaneously; you’d have time enough to don your mask and help your neighbor before he passes out.

CaptainHarley's avatar

1. If you faint from lack of oxygen, you can’t help anyone else.

2. If you faint from lack of oxygen, chances are your children aren’t going to be able to help you get your mask on.

3. If you get enough oxygen, you can help others who haven’t been able to get their masks on, including your children.

4. People do not die from short periods of oxygen deprivation, but neither do they spontaneously recover without being administered oxygen.

See where this is going?

AdvanceSubsonic's avatar

So you stay conscious.

casheroo's avatar

I completely panic when any sort of event happens that involves people I love. I’d probably pass out before the thingies even fell does.
But yes, you have to help yourself to help others. I can’t imagine :(

flo's avatar

Because if you are not well enough to help them then you won’t be able to help them.

AshlynM's avatar

Depending on their age, your kids probably won’t be able to help you put your masks on if you’re unable. So it’s best to take care of yourself first so you’re able to help others.

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