The National Safety Council (NSC) in the United States has unveiled its annual list of the 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.
“(Individuals) worry about the wrong things. For example, 865 times more people are killed in motor vehicle crashes than in commercial plane crashes,” said Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the NSC. “Knowing the real odds of dying can empower people to make better choices and result in longer lives.”
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 (1-1,532) vs. an earthquake (1-179,965).
Because the Odds of Dying list is made up of population-wide statistical averages, it does not necessarily determine how any one particular individual will die. Making safe decisions can reduce the risks of being killed in preventable incidents. For example, wearing a seat belt, turning off cellphones and designating a sober driver can greatly reduce the risk of a fatal car crash, said the NSC. While avoiding prescription painkillers in favour of safer alternatives will reduce the likelihood of a fatal overdose and eliminate a pathway to a lifetime of addiction.
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