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ATLANTA (CNN) — Survival and rescue stories from the deadly crash of TransAsia Airways Flight 235 in Taiwan are inspiring as well as intriguing. They raise the question: Why do some passengers survive plane crashes and others tragically don't?
Some of those who lived through Wednesday's crash credited their survival to seat belts and seating choices, yet much of surviving a disaster is pure chance.
Some of the survival game involves factors passengers largely can't control, like the weather, flight crew skills, the design of airline seats and the construction, maintenance and age of the plane.
But passengers themselves can do a lot to improve their chances of survival simply by making smart choices and being informed.
Here are a few ideas to keep in mind:
1. Seat choice
Have you heard of the "five-row rule"? This refers to the idea that if you're sitting within five rows of an emergency exit, you have a statistically better chance of surviving a crash. A 2011 study by University of Greenwich professor Ed Galea supports this theory.
2. Listen to the safety talk
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's boring. It's repetitive. But it could save your life! The presentation — by video or by flight attendants — explaining what to do in case the plane goes down offers key information like: How do I get out? How do I escape if I can't see? Where's my flotation device?
3. Read the safety card
You know that safety card in the pocket of the seat in front of you? Think of it as a map leading you toward survival. Read it. It shows how the plane you're on will be evacuated.
Think about the dozens — or even hundreds — of fellow passengers who will need to get off the plane ASAP. It helps to know what to expect.
You may have to slide down an inflatable ramp. You may have to get in an inflatable boat. The card shows you how it all works.
4. Know how to brace
Do you? Have you ever tried it? Sometimes, passengers have only seconds to react in an emergency. If aircraft crew members are commanding passengers to assume the brace position, it helps to know in advance what they're talking about. The safety talk and card will help you.
5. Be aware of the exits
Plan your escape. Visualize how you — and perhaps children you're traveling with — are going to get out of the plane.
Statistics show that most crashes occur in the minutes surrounding takeoffs and landings. So it stands to reason that passengers who want to increase their chances of survival should be especially aware of what's going on at that time.
6. Move quickly
You have 90 seconds to get out of the plane after a crash, according to Ben Sherwood, author of the New York Times bestseller "The Survivor's Club."
Many passengers in plane crashes survive the initial impact. It's what happens next that often kills them.
This includes fire, smoke and sometimes water. Sherwood advises using 90 seconds as a time frame for escaping.
7. Be hyperaware during takeoffs and landings
Statistics show that most crashes occur in the minutes surrounding takeoffs and landings. So it stands to reason that passengers who want to increase their chances of survival should be especially aware of what's going on at that time. Drinking alcoholic beverages before departure or arrival could impair your response in a crisis. And sleeping during these times is probably not the best option if you're looking to increase survivability.
8. Stay fit
This may go without saying, but the fitter you are, the better your chances of survival. Overweight or slower-moving passengers obviously could be at a disadvantage during an emergency evacuation.
9. Avoid airlines with poor safety records
Statistics show that we are living in the safest era in the history of commercial aviation. Nonetheless, every airline has a safety record, and those records are tracked. Various groups offer rankings for airline safety.
10. Dress for quick movement
No high heels or flip-flops. Keep your shoes on during the flight. Avoid short pants. Dress for the possibility that you might have to pass quickly through wreckage — or even run away from the plane.
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