A simple, everyday treatment on the ground could become fatal when combined with flight.
- DO get prompt medical care. Resist the temptation to ignore injuries or illnesses that can adversely affect your aviation duties. However, if you are sick enough to require over-the-counter (OTC) medication to feel good enough to fly, DO NOT FLY.
- DO take ownership for using OTC medications responsibly. Become an educated health-care consumer. Read medicine labels, including ALL active ingredients. Discuss your OTC medications with your doctor to determine if they could affect your ability to think clearly or safely perform highly complex tasks. 14 CFR 61.53 prohibits pilots from operating aircraft while using impairing medications. If taking any medication with warnings for drowsiness, lightheadedness, or operating machinery, DO NOT FLY.
- DON’T fly until it’s time. After using any medication with impairing side effects, follow the recommendations provided in the FAA’s Medications and Flying Brochure (bit.ly/faa_medsbrochure). After taking a new drug for the first time, wait to fly until at least 48 hours have elapsed with no side effects. After taking impairing medications, do not fly until at least five maximal dosing intervals have passed. For example, you must wait 30 hours after taking an impairing medication with a four- to six-hour dosing schedule (5 × 6 = 30).
DO complete the IMSAFE checklist before every flight. Use the IMSAFE personal readiness checklist (bit.ly/ImSafeChecklist) to ensure that you are physically and mentally fit to perform all flight duties without adverse effects from Illness, Medication, Stress, Alcohol, Fatigue, Emotion (and Eating) before and during every flight. Make an honest and continuous assessment of your fitness part of your routine flight preparations. Remember, if you are using impairing medications, your judgment of how well you are functioning may be impaired as well.
DON’T become an accident statistic. Improper use of sedating OTC medications remains a factor in 10 to 13% of aircraft accidents. Avoid becoming a statistic: accept when your underlying medical condition or associated treatments render you unfit to fly. Choose to stay with Mother Earth and live to fly another day.