If an impact is imminent, it's important to remain calm and assume a survival position: If you have a seat in front of you, cross your hands on the seat back and place your forehead on top of your hands.
If you don't have a seat back facing you, bend forward and hug your knees with your head down. Passengers should also take sharp objects, like pens and keys, out of their pockets — these can stab through skin in an impact.
The 90-second rule
The first 90 seconds after a crash are the most important — if you can stay calm and move out of the plane quickly, your odds of survival are much greater.
Some passengers are in such a state of panic that they can't unbuckle their seat belts: NTSB reports have found that many crash victims are found in their seats with their seat belts still buckled.
"That's why it is important to know what to do, even without the orders," Corbett told WebMD. "Some people sit and wait for orders, and if they don't hear any, then they sit right through the disaster."
One reason so many passengers survived the Asiana crash was their ability to exit the airplane quickly. "If people had dawdled getting off this airplane, that would have put them at increased risk," John Hansman, director of the International Center for Air Transportation, told USAToday.
Gathering luggage and other personal belongings can be a fatal mistake. "You might get stuck on that plane with your luggage," Corbett told WebMD.
As safe as an escalator
One thing safety experts are quick to emphasize is the remarkable safety record of commercial airlines.
Only one in 1.2 million flights ends up in an accident, according to NTSB statistics. Vast improvements in safety training, in nonflammable aircraft materials and in firefighting equipment have made flying much safer than driving.
"Riding on a commercial airplane has got about the same amount of risk as riding on an escalator," Hansman told ABC News.
"Flying the friendly skies is, I believe, the safest mode of travel," Corbett told WebMD. "That doesn't mean we should take it lightly and that we shouldn't be prepared. Don't let it scare you. Just have a plan."
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