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Old 28 January 2015, 07:06 PM
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A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
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Flame Panty Hose a Hazard in a Fire

I was reading an article about flight attendants required to wear skirts and panty hose as part of the company image and I came across the following claim:

Quote:
The downside of skirts goes beyond aesthetics. Skirts and panty hose, which airlines require to be worn with skirts, can be a safety hazard. If caught in a fire, panty hose can melt and stick to the skin, worsening burns.
http://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/news...sks/ar-AA8BJ2i

Is that so, as a practical matter? Most synthetics will melt at some point, a few hundred degrees F, IIRC. If your slacks or other garment melts while you are wearing them, the molten fabric will burn you, right? And how often is it that one gets exposed to such heat and does not suffer burns as bad or worse than what the fabric would cause - or suffer burns that make whatever the fabric contributes irrelevant. I could understand better the claim that slacks would provide a buffer against the heat of flames, but that would have to be balanced against the fabric being available to catch fire and burn the wearer and more likely to catch fire than panty hose both because they move around and because they have oxygen on both sides.

I understand that fire defense is way down the list of hazards in an airplane emergency - getting down an emergency ramp, surviving being in the water, not getting trampled, etc. are all much more common concerns in a crash/emergency landing. But the claim was made and I have heard it before, so I thought I would ask if it is just an urban legend.
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Old 28 January 2015, 07:26 PM
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I don't think it's an urban legend. Flight attendants might have to assist passengers in a fire, or have to go close to the flames in order to fight a fire or open emergency exits, etc. The problem with something like pantyhose is that with bare legs, you might get injured by heat, but it should stop when you move away from the heat source. If something melts onto your skin, you can't remove it and it can keep burning you. Likewise, if you're wearing (non-melty) pants, they might protect you a bit from the heat, but if they started to burn you could remove them and they would cease injuring you.
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Old 28 January 2015, 07:56 PM
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I have long heard it recommended going back to when I was an aviation technology student that natural fibers are the preferable thing to wear on flights because of the melting factor of synthetics in the event of a fire-related emergency.
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Old 28 January 2015, 07:58 PM
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Pants are MUCH easier to remove than pantyhose. Easier for first responders to cut off, too (at least without further injuring the wearer).

Seems to me the safest thing would be for all flight crew members to wear pants made of material with the highest melting point practical. I don't see what logical objection there could be to that.
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Old 28 January 2015, 08:11 PM
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A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
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Lainie, as to the "highest melting point practical", there are certainly other considerations than fire. Fires are far from the most likely hazard to encounter in an airplane mishap, and when fire is the issue, a lot of times (probably most of the times) it is not going to matter what you are wearing. In the more likely conditions, I would think mobility would be the biggest requirement, and the fabric and style that allows that may not be the most flame-protectant. I like Jenn's info in this regard, in that natural fibers neither melt nor give off toxic fumes when exposed to flame.
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Old 28 January 2015, 08:15 PM
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Hello Kitty

Wool jersey would be the most heat-resistant and also allow a full range of movement. Wool is self-extinguishing, and jersey fabrics are knit and have stretch so as not to be confining.
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Old 28 January 2015, 08:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A Turtle Named Mack View Post
Lainie, as to the "highest melting point practical", there are certainly other considerations than fire.
I know, that's why I phrased it that way.

ETA: Mobility, of course, is one more reason not to make women wear skirts.
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Old 28 January 2015, 08:55 PM
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Really? I would have thought that so long as modesty was not a real concern (as it should not be during a life-and-death emergency), skirts would allow complete freedom of motion, and be less apt to hinder leg movement than trousers. But I have very little experience in skirts.
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Old 28 January 2015, 09:02 PM
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The knee-length pencil skirts that are part of most flight attendant uniforms are quite restrictive. A loose flowing skirt wouldn't restrict mobility much but increases the risk of getting caught or tangled.
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Old 28 January 2015, 09:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aimee Evilpixie View Post
Wool jersey would be the most heat-resistant and also allow a full range of movement. Wool is self-extinguishing, and jersey fabrics are knit and have stretch so as not to be confining.
Provided that such garment does not have a liner made from man-made material. Which is often the case.

OY
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Old 28 January 2015, 09:34 PM
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Well, one would hope that clothing designed for fire-retardentness would take that into account.

And yes, Mack, skirts can be extremely hampering.
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Old 28 January 2015, 09:50 PM
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There have been actual crash investigations that noted passengers wearing clothing made from synthetic materials sustained worse burn injuries than those wearing natural fibers:

Quote:
During the investigation the issue of the flammability of passengers' clothing materials came up. There was evidence that passengers who wore double-knit artificial fiber clothing articles sustained significantly worse burn injuries during the post-crash fire than passengers who wore articles made from natural fibers.[4]
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Old 28 January 2015, 10:18 PM
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Ah, thanks Wildabeast. That's more evidentiary than what we had. It still does not differentiate between panty hose and other garments for fire danger, but it at least tends to support the 'dangerous polymers' idea.
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Old 28 January 2015, 10:21 PM
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It depends on the synthetic material being used. We either wore fire resistant materials or cotton. They were used because they would turn to ash instead of melting to the skin causing worse burns and bigger problems in removing after.
We mainly used a kevlar and nomex blend for wildland fire but the state still allowed some people to use all cotton jeans on the fire line. I used P-cord as boot laces since they didn't cut as easily on all the volcanic rock around here and made the mistake of grabbing the end to soon once. It melted to my finger tips and hurt like hell.(We'd take the parachute cord and cut it to length, pull out the inner cords and just use the sheath, and then you melted the ends closed.)

This a video demonstrating clothing in regards to welding but can see the difference in what remains after being burnt between cotton and a poly blend.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWiycB8_CwI

Last edited by firefighter_raven; 28 January 2015 at 10:31 PM.
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Old 29 January 2015, 04:28 AM
Singing in the Drizzle Singing in the Drizzle is offline
 
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The answer is Nomex clothing.
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Old 29 January 2015, 03:22 PM
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Glasses

My mother once (60+ years ago) had the bad luck to drop a bottle of acid on a hard surface. It, naturally, broke and splashed her nylon-clad legs. She had the good luck that there was a man with a hose nearby who immediately turned it on her, so she was not burned. Her nylons, however, did melt to her skin.

Seaboe
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Old 29 January 2015, 03:28 PM
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Something similar happened to a girl in chemistry class at my high school. The teacher picked her up and put her in the emergency wash station.

Even if we could establish that pantyhose is no less safe than pants, I don't see any good reason why female flight crew members can't at least be given the option of wearing pants. I probably have a higher bar than some people for what constitutes a good reason.
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Old 29 January 2015, 03:49 PM
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I can't argue with you there, Lainie. I was just raising the issue about panty hose and fires because I have heard the assertion before and it seemed like total speculation become a UL. 'Everyone' repeats it, like the 8 glasses of water a day bit, but is there actual support in experience or studies for there being greater injury from melting panty hose than from the legs being exposed to the level of heat that would melt the panty hose.
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