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Turbulence caused injuries on two recent flights: How to stay safe while flying

Two recent flights have brought attention to the dangers of turbulence while flying after multiple airline passengers and crew needed to be transferred to emergency rooms due to injuries, according to multiple reports. 

United Flight 128 encountered unexpected turbulence while en route to Houston,” United Airlines said in a statement on Monday. 

The flight arrived in Houston from Rio de Janeiro on Monday morning.

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“Upon arrival, two passengers and three crew members were met by medical personnel and taken to a local hospital with minor injuries,” the statement continued. 

“We’re grateful to our crew for their efforts to ensure the safety of our employees and customers,” United Airlines also said in the statement.

This came just a day after passengers aboard a domestic flight had multiple injuries from severe turbulence.

“HA35 from [Phoenix to Hawaii] encountered severe turbulence & landed safely in HNL at 10:50 a.m. today,” Hawaiian Airlines wrote on Twitter on Dec. 18.

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“Medical care was provided to several guests & crewmembers at the airport for minor injuries while some were swiftly transported to local hospitals for further care.”

Thirty-six people were treated for bumps, bruises and nausea, said Jim Ireland, director of Honolulu Emergency Medical Services.

Approximately 20 people were transferred to the hospital, including 11 people with severe injuries, including a head injury, lacerations, bruising and loss of consciousness, Honolulu EMS added.

Some passengers were unrestrained and there were objects flying about the cabin, per multiple reports. 

Here’s some advice and tips on how to prevent injuries if you happen to encounter turbulence while flying.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines turbulence this way: “Clear air turbulence is air movement created by atmospheric pressure, jet streams, air around mountains, cold or warm weather fronts or thunderstorms.” 

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“It can be unexpected and can happen when the sky appears to be clear,” the agency added in a fact sheet shared with Fox News Digital.

“Turbulence can give an airplane a sudden jolt that can injure passengers and flight crewmembers who aren’t buckled in.”

The National Transportation Safety Board requires airlines to report serious injuries, which are defined as requiring hospitalization for at least 48 hours within seven days of the onset of the injury.

Approximately 101 crew members and passengers were injured in 2009, which decreased to 9 in 2018, per the FAA’s website. 

“FAA regulations require specific medical training for flight attendants,” the FAA told Fox News Digital. 

“The FAA developed extensive guidance to help airlines prevent turbulence injuries,” the agency added. 

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“Practices recommended by the FAA impacted the operations and training of flight crews, flight attendants, dispatchers and managers.”

Always follow the airline restrictions for carry-on luggage, the FAA noted on its website. 

The FAA recommends listening carefully to the safety briefings at the start of the flight. It says passengers should also review the safety briefing card provided in each of the individual seats.

Also, passengers should stay in their seats as much as they can and have their seat belt buckled at all times, per the FAA. 

If a passenger is flying with a child under the age of two, approved child safety seats should be used. 

Also, passengers should listen to the flight attendants’ messaging. 

The FAA works together with the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) to help airlines avoid turbulence injuries, according to its website. 

The FAA recommends that air carriers include turbulence in their weather briefings, improve dispatch procedures by having communication channels open full-time and encourage “real-time information sharing between pilot and dispatcher.”

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They also recommend using all available weather analytics, including weather data and forecasting graphics. 

“The FAA also encourages air carriers to use operating procedures and training to prevent turbulence injuries, emphasize the importance of flight attendants’ personal safety, promote communication and coordination, and gather data and review the air carrier’s history of turbulence encounters and injuries,” according to the fact sheet on its website.

The agency provides more information on preventing turbulence on its website. 

Anyone can access this additional information by visiting this website: www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/advisory_circulars/index.cfm/go/document.information/documentID/99831.

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