All right, I’ll make it super fast. It’s me, Destin. Welcome back to SmarterEveryDay. When you’re in a jet, if the cabin depressurizes, they drop this
little mask out of the top. What happens if you’re in a depressurized
cabin and you’re up above 15,000 feet [4,500m] and you drop your mask? Something called
hypoxia takes effect and you got to do something about that. Let’s get smarter every day. You’ve heard the flight attendants say
this before, “Secure your own mask before helping others.” But why? Why did they say
that? Is the 30 seconds it takes to put on a kid’s mask next to me really that
important? 15 years ago I learned the answer to
this question when I was selected to participate in NASA’s Reduced Gravity
Student Flight Opportunities Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Before I got
to ride in the Vomit Comet I had to undergo physiological training in a
hypobaric chamber at the neutral buoyancy lab. Fast forward to now. Today, astronaut Don
Pettit is scheduled to renew his hypoxia training certification and I asked him
if it would be okay if I tagged along let me swim a few laps with him over the
International Space Station mock-up in the neutral buoyancy lab before we
headed over next door for Don’s training. – You look like something the dog dragged in.
– I feel like it, too.
The purpose of hypoxia training is to let astronauts
and aviators know when their brain’s about to stop working correctly, which is very, very important. If you’re at a high altitude in an airplane, the air is
thinner but the cabin is pressurized, so your body gets enough oxygen to operate. To simulate cabin depressurization, NASA puts its astronauts in a chamber at
sea level and then pumps the air out to thin it out, so that it simulates a
higher altitude. Don’s training starts with class work
focused on understanding the specific signs and symptoms of hypoxia in his own body. The goal of this training is to understand
your own physiological symptoms so that you can take action quickly. For example, Don said he experiences
tunnel vision and air hunger, but I remember for my training 15 years ago
that get really happy and start to tingle all over – I can’t take you seriously because this
is what you look like. – What do you mean? I look perfectly normal.
– [giggling] This is the experiment we’re going to do:
Don and I are both going to enter the hypobaric chamber at the same time and
fly to FL250, at which point we are going to remove our masks and start to
experience the effects of hypoxia. Don is the control. He’s a trained
astronaut who recognizes the symptoms for hypoxia and immediately corrects for them. I, on the other hand, am under the direct supervision of a NASA flight surgeon and after I notice the effects of hypoxia, I’ve asked if I could delay for about
one minute so we can better understand the physiological effects of not
immediately putting your mask on. OK, here we go, we’re getting set up. While Jerry gets me situated, I’m
going to talk about the two types of decompression: Number one, rapid
decompression this is like being inside of an explosion. You dump all your pressure instantly, all
the moisture condenses out of the air, you’re suddenly in a cloud.
Very scary, very violent Yeah, we’re not going to do that.
What we’re going to do is simulate a slow, steady leak. We’re going to start at sea
level and ascend at 5,000 feet [1,500m] per minute all the way up to 25,000 feet [7,500m], or as aviators call it, flight level 250 OK, I want to make one thing abundantly clear.
We performed this demonstration at 25,000 feet [7,500m]. I had about three to five minutes of consciousness left. However, most airliners travel at 35,000 feet [10,000m]. Look at this chart: There is way less oxygen up there. At 35,000 feet [10,000m] you literally have seconds
of useful consciousness at that altitude. You can go from a normally rational
person to someone so helpless you can even save yourself if your life depends
on it. I don’t- I don’t wanna die I don’t tell you this to scare you. I
simply want you to understand the physiology behind that little preflight
announcement. “Put your mask on first before helping others.” Look, I don’t want to get too deep or philosophical with this, but I think there’s a neat metaphor here. Sometimes it’s easy for me to see the
problems in other people and focus on that and I get so carried away with
fixing other people that I forget that I have a problem too. And I think that’s what’s so cool about
this demonstration. Sometimes you just got to put your mask on first and get yourself sorted before you can help others. – So thanks again for saving my life, by
– You’re welcome, it was an honor and a pleasure. – It was great.
– [Inaudible] all the time. –Thank you. There you go, now we learned why
you need to put your mask on first before you help other people.
You don’t want to get hypoxia. I’m Destin you’re getting smarter every day, have a good one. If you feel like this video earned your
subscription, feel free to click this box that I’m in right now or you can click
the support on patreon and you’ll be notified via email every time I release
a video. I want to say thank you to the awesome people at NASA’s neutral buoyancy laboratory. They kept me super safe, super informed and they educated me and made me smarter every moment I was with them. That was really awesome.
Thank you so much, guys Anyway, I’m Destin you’re getting smarter every day.
Have a good one. –What’s the deal here, Don?
– Well I cut the regular lens off of the goggles –OK
– and then I took an old pair of
glasses and I cut the plastic to fit my goggles and then I glued them on.
– You basically MacGyvered your own goggles, so that you had correction underwater. – That’s right.
– That’s pretty good.