Do not panic. Brief exposure to the vacuum of space is not lethal. In fact, experiments have suggested primates can survive three to five minutes of zero pressure without permanent damage. However, the amount of time you will remain conscious varies by individual; count on no more than 30 seconds to enact a self-rescue.
Here are some important safety tips to keep in mind:
1. Do not attempt to hold your breath. Severe damage to lung tissue will result.
2. Likewise, do not close your eyes. Not only is vision (even partial) likely to improve your chances of survival but it is important not to impede the escape of blood and/or gasses from your sinuses.
3. Do not concern yourself with explosive belching, flatulence, defecation and/or urination. This is a normal and expected byproduct of your body’s pressure equalization experience.
4. Loss of hearing accompanied by sharp and sudden earache is normal — do not be alarmed.
5. Ignore joint and muscle discomfort, should they manifest. While the spontaneous formation of nitrogen bubbles in soft tissues (“the bends”) is normal, fine motor control should not be affected for 15 to 30 seconds.
6. Upon rescue and return to normal pressurization, seek medical attention and schedule time in a barometric acclimation chamber. Filing the appropriate request documents in the proper sequence will speed this process.
Once you have familiarized yourself with these emergency procedures, please return this infographic card to the seat pocket in front of you and enjoy your flight!