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What color is the emergency box on a plane?

Air travel has become incredibly commonplace in modern society, with millions of people boarding flights every single day. Yet despite its familiarity, air travel remains mysterious in many ways. On every commercial airline flight, there are numerous safety features and protocols in place to protect passengers in the unlikely event of an emergency. One such feature is the emergency box or kit that contains critical supplies needed in different disaster scenarios. But have you ever wondered – what color actually is that box? In this article, we’ll explore the answer to that question and look at the key contents inside.

The Reason for the Bright Color

If you’ve flown much, you’ve probably noticed the emergency box or kit secured near one of the doors or exits on the airplane. It’s typically bright red or orange – something you can’t miss. But why such a visible, contrasting color compared to the interior hues of the cabin?

The bright color serves an important purpose – to make the box quickly and easily seen in an emergency situation where seconds count. If cabin lights have failed or the aircraft is filling with smoke, the vivid coloring helps passengers and crew instantly spot where critical supplies and tools are located. The priority is being able to access them as fast as possible in order to administer first aid, communicate with air traffic control, or prepare for an evacuation.

Standardized Contents

While the exact contents of emergency boxes can vary slightly between airlines and aircraft models, they generally contain very similar supplies that are standardized by aviation regulatory agencies.

Here are some of the key items typically found inside an aircraft emergency kit:

  • Portable oxygen bottles and masks
  • Basic first aid supplies – bandages, gloves, painkillers
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Flotation devices
  • Small fire extinguisher
  • Smoke hoods
  • Megaphone
  • Emergency locator transmitter
  • Survival blankets
  • Multitool

These contents provide crew members the essential gear for managing incidents until the plane can safely land. Oxygen, fire suppression, medical treatment, communication and passenger evacuation are all covered.

Regulatory Oversight

Most major countries follow standardized guidelines by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) for emergency equipment on commercial airliners. In the United States, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) provides oversight and mandates that airlines meet certain requirements.

Here are some key FAA rules regarding emergency boxes:

  • Boxes must be installed near each door/exit intended for emergency evacuation
  • Contents must be approved and inspected regularly
  • Equipment must be easily accessible for crew
  • Boxes must have exterior markings indicating contents
  • Certain supplies must be onboard depending on aircraft size

Following these aviation regulations ensures a basic level of emergency preparedness on any commercial passenger flight.

The Bright Color Options

So now that we’ve covered why the box is brightly colored and what’s kept inside, what specific color variations are used? Here are some of the most common:

Color Hex Code
Red #FF0000
Orange #FFA500
Yellow #FFFF00
Lime #00FF00

Red and orange are definitely the most popular, for maximum visibility. But any bright, bold tone works to make the box noticeably stand out. Retroreflective striping is also sometimes added for extra reflectivity.

Location Onboard

Emergency boxes are strategically positioned based on the aircraft design. On single-aisle planes, there is typically one box at the front and one at the rear. For larger widebody jets, additional kits may be placed near other doors and distributed throughout the cabin.

The rear box is the most critical, since this is where crew membes jumpseat is located. This ensures they can immediately access emergency gear after takeoff. Front boxes supplement the rear and enable quick retrieval from additional areas.

Overwing exit rows also sometimes have boxes nearby. This overall distribution guarantees equipment redundancy and short access times from any cabin location.

Storage Protection

Since the emergency box contains mission-critical gear for safety, it must be properly secured and protected:

  • Mounted to wall/floor to prevent movement in-flight
  • Latch or straps keep box closed tight
  • Tamper-evident seals if opened between checks
  • Durable exterior prevents damage to contents
  • Fire/impact resistant encasing
  • If stowed in overhead bin, bin must have firewalls around it

Proper installation and construction keeps the emergency kit safely contained across the dynamic environment of flight. Abuse, accidents and unauthorized access are all prevented through intelligent design.


While hopefully never needed, the emergency box on airliners provides critical supplies and tools to protect passenger safety in the rare event of an in-flight problem. The vivid red or orange color allows the kit to stand out and be rapidly identified when seconds matter most. Standardized contents across the industry give crews the fundamentals to manage diverse emergency scenarios. Strict regulations and prudent placement also enable quick access to these vital items. So next time you see that bright box when boarding, you can have confidence that essential equipment is close at hand if ever required. Though ignored by most passengers, the emergency box plays an inconspicuous but invaluable role in keeping air travel safe.