One reason I think people panic about their bags is because they are afraid of losing their passports and visas on international flights.
But it's also work and personal laptops, iPads, wallets, car keys, cell phones, business information...The average work briefcase or small carry on contains an incredible number of items that would be difficult to replace, and certainly in a timely manner.
I think part of it is also human nature. When do you ever leave a place, particularly a place of public transportation like an airplane, taxi, or bus, and leave all of your personal items behind you? Never. So in the chaos of an emergency, people resort to routine. And in that routine, the first thing you do is gather your carry on items and move toward an exit. As the son of a flight attendant who knows the rules and the reasons behind them, I can easily see myself abandoning my suitcase in the overhead bin in an evacuation--underwear and dress shirts can be easily replaced. But, rightly or wrongly, I bet I'd grab my briefcase from underneath the seat in front of me before heading to the door.
Sorry but as a burn victim I can tell you. NOTHING in your carry on is more important that not burning to death. In terms of important files for work. I keep a USB fob on my keychain (now 64GB) with all my critcal data backed up to it. Already in pocket set to go. Passport, cell and wallet in pocket. If it's a blizzard Emergency crews will get to you before you freeze to death at an airport. We all need to quit being winey babies that have to have everything set for comfort. In an emergency I don't give a damn in I'm to cold or too hot due to weather. I give a damn that I did not KILL someone by trapping them on the plane because I was so self important that I had to get my F'n carry on! Having dealt with survivors remorse I can tell you replacing that bag is better than years of hating yourself. Think about knowing a child or adult burnt to death because I grabbed this thing I could replace.
So how about this folks. If you take your carry on when evacuating its a $10000.00 fine that goes to fund emergency services. This being announced during the emergency notifications, that most all ignore the crew doing before take off. No claiming I did not hear it so I should not pay the fine. But if you have a carry on and someone died in the crash, you get charged with Involuntary manslaughter. After all thats what you have done!
I am sorry to hear about your burn incident.
I am also in complete agreement with you, and sadly ignorance is blissful for those that have not had to survive (or even been trained to survive) such an incident. My first concern, is almost the most univerally overlooked; oxygen and respiration. Imagine for a moment; passengers have been prepared for the emergency landing, and have been using the oxygen masks. Psychologically, not having a panic attack is not a super attainable goal, but those that do not - upon landing, will go from that; controlled oxygen supply - to none - in an attempt to evacuate (and in the event of an un-contained fire), through a oxygen poor environment, and likely in need of it now as they will be literally fighting to get out. In those scenarios, every nano-second, every decision, every choice counts. People, confused, or nervous - are going to try to 'save the IPad', 'pass out' in the aisle, and then a flight attendant (and/or fire rescue) is going to have to save them. The IPad, will likely survive the patient(s).
The public has taken the levels of security offered, for granted. It's horrifying to think that something as nightmarish as AC 797 happened, and that was pre the 'Insta-famous' mentality.
Specifically referring to the issue of jackets/coats - there is another issue. If evacuating into water, the coats become a deathtrap. If you put it over the lifevest, it will weight it down, and also hide the bright color needed to be seen by rescue personnel. It also, regardless of who is wearing it, becomes waterlogged, and not only weighs down the user, but also limits their range of motion - in water.
And so - I believe that it needs to now be part of the public consciousness. Add a section to the safety briefings/safety videos. Have the airlines do reminders on board (on the inside of the overhead bins/overhead bin covers), and then make a small space on the life vest (or, an attachable pouch) for passport, form of I.D., cellphone - something the size of a wallet, or a small clutch purse. AA used to make UMs wear a 'UM' pouch - same concept.
Cabin Crew should be empowered to be more assertive on the front as these issues ultimately affect their ability to operate, and often, their ultimate responsibility - passenger safety.