Worried About Dying from Surgery, Hurricane, Plane Crash? Check Out the Odds

June 1, 2015

Americans who worry about dying worry about the wrong things.

That’s according to the National Safety Council, which kicked off National Safety Month by unveiling its annual list of Americans’ “Odds of Dying” from various causes.

The list of statistical averages – calculated using fatality data for the entire U.S. population – details the lifetime odds of dying from various causes of death.

For example, Americans tend to worry about dying in commercial plane crashes even though 865 times more people are killed in motor vehicle crashes, according to Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council.

“While ‘San Andreas’ was No. 1 at the box office, earthquakes are very rare events. Knowing the real odds of dying can empower people to make better choices and result in longer lives,” she added.

Lifetime “Odds of Dying” from common activities versus those that are commonly feared include:

  • A motor vehicle crash (1-112) vs. a commercial airplane crash (1-96,566)
  • Overdosing on opioid prescription painkillers (1-234) vs. being electrocuted (1-12,200)
  • Falling (1-144) vs. a cataclysmic storm (1-6,780)
  • Being a passenger in a car (1-470) vs. a lightning strike (1-164,968)
  • Walking down or crossing the street (1-704) vs. a wasp, bee or hornet sting (1-55,764)
  • Complications from surgical or medical care (1,532) vs. an earthquake (1-179,965)

The NSC notes that because the list is made up of population-wide statistical averages, it does not necessarily determine how any one particular person will die.

odds of dying lightning plane crash car crash surgery overdose falling bee sting
Source: National Safety Council

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