Smarter Every Day

This experiment shows why you should put YOUR oxygen mask on first

Unless you want to get all giggly and die.

BEC CREW
5 AUG 2016
 

If you fly a lot, you'll be all too familiar with the safety advice during take-off - in the event of an emergency, you need to secure your oxygen mask before helping others. But it takes 10, maybe 20 seconds to put an oxygen mask on someone else, so is it really such a risk if you decide to help your kid first? 

 

As Destin from Smarter Every Day discovers in this crazy experiment, it is a big deal, and holy crap, stop winking at us, you're about to die!

To test the effects of oxygen deprivation - known as hypoxia - Destin joined astronaut Don Pettit as he renewed his hypoxia training over at NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.

Basically, this training is designed to help astronauts and pilots understand the various symptoms of hypoxia, so they can figure when their brain has stopped working properly in the case of an emergency.

Interestingly, no one experiences hypoxia in the same way - while Don says he gets blurred/tunnel vision and 'air hunger' (the feeling of having not enough oxygen), Destin says he gets all giggly and tingly.

The only way to know for sure what your individual response to hypoxia will be is to put yourself in a special box where NASA scientists can simulate the low-oxygen effects of a high altitude, and regulate that using the same kind of pressurisation system that allows you to breathe normally on an aeroplane.

For the experiment, Don acts as the control - he's very familiar with his own symptoms of hypoxia, so as soon as he feels them, he puts his mask back on. Destin, on the other hand, asks if he can keep his mask off for 1 minute after the effects of hypoxia start to set in, so he can demonstrate the physiological effects of not immediately putting your mask on.

 

I'm not going to spoil the fun, but let's just say he struggles to complete a basic task that even a pig can master, can't stop smiling, and starts winking at the scientists when they tell him to put his mask back on because he's going to die.

In the end, someone else had to put his mask on for him because his brain was incapable of making the decision to save his own life, which makes you realise how serious not putting your own mask on in a depressurised aeroplane can be.

As Destin says on his YouTube page, "There are parts of this video that I don't remember making."

Check out the experiment in the video above, and remember, it's all fun and games until a NASA scientist tells you you're gonna die. Thanks for taking one for the team, Destin.

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