Emergency breathing masks worn improperly on Southwest flight

A photo taken by Marty Martinez inside Southwest flight 1380 shows at least three people clearly wearing their oxygen masks improperly.

The pre-flight safety demonstrations tell passengers the masks should be worn over their nose and mouths in case of the loss of cabin pressure. But images from inside the plane -- taken after its engine exploded, sending shrapnel through a window and killing one woman and triggering the masks to fall from above passengers' seats -- show most people only covered their mouths with the little yellow cups.

Many people, however, either don’t listen to or don't remember the announcements containing important -- potentially life-saving -- information.

“I don’t pay attention at all… because I’m preoccupied doing other things,” traveler Ellen Green admitted.

“I don’t listen to it... because I’ve been on planes so many times I know it,” traveler Martin Dietze echoed.

Peter Repak owns the SimCenter in Clearwater and he is also a pilot. He says the first few minutes when the crew goes over the safety information is the most important part of any flight for a passenger.

“You are being trained by the flight crew what to do in case of an emergency,” Repak said. “When it really happens, when the panic sets in is when it has to be second-nature for you to know what to do.”

In the case of the masks, wearing them properly will help avoid the potentially deadly effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and hypoxia, a lack of oxygen to the brain. It can take effect in as little as 18 seconds.