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Summary of Question:Oxygen Mask And The Turban
Date Posted:Friday, 3/14/2003 10:23 AM MDT

I am an airline pilot for a UK Charter airline - I fly the Boeing 757. Every 6 months we have to practise various drills in the simulator one of which is the explosive decompression which requires putting on an oxygen mask over my head - (Over my Turban) - it is very awkward and I do not want to remove my turban because it is not starched and therefore I would have to tie it again. Getting the oxygen mask on is critical because if the aircraft depressurised at 37000 feet one would have about 15-20 seconds of useful consciousness time. Of course my job is extremely important to me and my family - what can I do?

Sat Siri Akaal. In a real emergency, would you resist taking off your turban if putting the oxygen mask on would save your life and those of your passengers? The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one here.

If you know in advance when you will drill and practice w/the oxygen mask, you should wear a NON-starched turban as well as an underturban or patka under your turban. Then, if you need to take off your turban for the mask your head is still covered. I recommend you consider switching to non-starched turbans anyway, given your work. Most Sikhs I have ever met wear non-starched turbans, which when tied correctly hold their shape through a long day. If you don't know in advance when the drills are going to happen, then that is all the more reason to revise your turban style and to include an underturban of some kind.

I FULLY understand the social difficulty in removing a turban around non-Sikhs who have never seen you otherwise. Your colleagues should perhaps, be made aware of this in a diplomatic way so that they don't harass you with embarrasing questions on a drill-day when perhaps you have to remove your turban.
I hope this helps. Guru ang sang,

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