Things to Leave Behind When Jumping Out of Airplanes

By Jon Miller Published on October 10th, 2007

Flying west on Sichuan Airlines today I saw the most bizarre in-flight safety video. The cartoon character flight attendant was the star of the show, with a video bubble of a real person explaining in sign language, while passable English subtitles. That combination was odd (I suppose animating signing was too hard?) but the instructions for emergency exit procedures were the oddest I’ve seen. They included 1) removing your watch, 2) removing your glasses, 3) removing your false tooth and 4) removing your ring. Bizarre.
Does anyone have an explanation for this? The watch and ring being some sort of hazard to puncturing the air-filled rubber slide on your way out is remotely plausible. The scene of people struggling to remove their rings as they evacuate in an emergency is comical yet terrifying. Removing your glasses in an emergency would seem to be a bad idea if you needed them to see. Broken glass? The false tooth (Yes, false tooth. The animation was very clear in showing an upper right false gold molar being removed) completely baffles me.
If the same video comes up again on the return flight, I will ask the flight crew. Why don’t we make this a contest. If anyone guesses correctly (assuming I can get the information out of the flight crew) we’ll send you a Gemba brain to squeeze. Sichuan Airlines staff not eligible for this contest.
If you’re looking for a connection to Lean and kaizen… bad visual management? Poor work instructions? No idea.

  1. Luke

    October 10, 2007 - 3:14 pm

    If you are found with all your personal effects in your pocket, it makes the rescue workers job much easier…

  2. Dan Markovitz

    October 10, 2007 - 4:09 pm

    This is so easy to answer I can’t believe it. The false tooth contains cyanide, so that you can commit suicide if you’re apprehended while spying. You don’t want to risk biting too hard on the poison-filled molar when conducting a bumpy, scary, emergency evacuation, so you remove the tooth. Duh.

  3. Alberto

    October 11, 2007 - 8:27 am

    I guess on an engineering point of view it’s because the high pressures than involve the jumping out of an airplane may have a certain effect on metal objects and specially on a false tooth, given that’s is hollow and bitting real har or a severe pressure change may make it explode inside your motuh and cause you death.

  4. Mark Graban

    October 12, 2007 - 7:20 am

    They definitely aren’t following the TWI/Toyota principle of explaining why.

  5. Alberto

    October 15, 2007 - 3:05 pm

    If i’m allowed, in addition to my last answer i can say that the moment you impact the ground, damage on your person can be enhanced by metal objects. it’s not the same thing hitting a wall your naked hand or hitting it with a ring, the same with a watch.
    Glasses and false teeth may be crushed on impact so if you take them out you can prevent small fragment of glass or ivory in your face.
    When are we going to know the correct answer?

  6. Jon

    October 15, 2007 - 9:56 pm

    I’m not sure when we’ll know. It depends on when someone from Gemba (or someone we know) flies this airlines again.
    I suppose we could send a letter to the public relations department of Sichuan Airlines.
    In the mean time, keep guessing!

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