Monday, August 25, 2008

Physics and the Flight Risk of Lap Children

Before the next time you fly with an infant that you will put on your lap, you might want to read this first.

But the FAA has acknowledged the inherent danger: While most parents would do anything for their child - including holding on for dear life in an airborne emergency - the simple fact is they can't always hold onto the child.

That's because commercial aircraft are designed to withstand tremendous G-forces, but humans are not. And therefore a 25-pound baby could easily weigh three or four times that amount when a parent is struggling to hold onto it during an emergency, let alone dealing with impact, smoke or fire.

In addition, a baby strapped inside a parent's seat belt can be crushed by the parent's weight during an emergency.

These laws of physics have been proven time and again, in the most heartbreaking of circumstances. In several cases, lap children have been severely injured and killed in accidents that were survivable.

Certainly the odds of such an emergency situation for airline travel is less than automobile travel. However, when it does happen, it would be horrible that a lap child did not make it through a situation that is survivable.


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