Life can be a complicated endeavor, especially for those who worry about the rare and dangerous ways to get hurt or die. But the unusual does happen and everything on this list is real, but most are rare so - to paraphrase the famous line from Hunger Games - 'the odds are in your favor.'
Be Careful How You Earn Your Money
Although fishing is usually associated with a relaxing day off from work, those who do it for a living are more like to die on the job than pilots, roofers, utility workers, or even cops. For years, it was the most dangerous job on the Bureau of Labor's list, before fatal accidents pushed logging into the top spot. But people also get hurt in weird and wacky ways in less dangerous occupations.
- If you have a desk job, beware. Those who sit six or more hours a day at work are 40 percent likely to die in 15 years than those who sit three hours or less each day.
- The annual spring switch to Daylight Savings Time adds to the danger of working for a living. Research shows an increase in both automobile accidents and workplace injuries on the first day back.
- Being left-handed may increase your odds of getting hurt even more. According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine left-handers are five times more likely to die in an accident than a right-hander, but politics may be a good choice. Since 1974, four of the seven presidents have been left-handed: Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
- It may also be best to avoid the nice people at work, at least according to the Milgram experiment. The experiment determined that nice people are often more willing to physically hurt someone because of a nice person's natural inclination to defer to authority.
For those wanting to stay safe by avoiding work and winning the lottery, they should set their sights on a rich spouse instead since the odds are better. The odds of marrying a millionaire are 215 to 1 whereas the odds of winning a huge lottery are 1 in 176 million.
Stay Home or Go Out?
For those who love amusement parks, rest easy knowing that the odds of being seriously injured on roller coaster ride are extremely low. A person has a 1 in 24 million chance of dying on a roller coaster. National Geographic points out a few more of the unusual ways people are injured or killed.
- The odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime: 3,000 to 1
- The odds of being injured by a toilet this year: 10,000 to 1
- The odds you will die from an asteroid: 250,000 to 1
The real danger lies in getting to wherever you are going since there is a 1 in 100 chance of being killed in a car accident.
Every year millions of people end up in the hospital or emergency rooms. As authors Amram Shapiro, Louise Firth Campbell, and Rosalind Wright point out in the Book of Odds, DNA, gender and even money can play a role in the odds of injuries or disease.
- The odds a man or woman will die an accidental death are relatively high (Page 222). The odds for a man are 1 in 1.5 while women fare slightly better at 1 in 2.8. Some common accidents that lead to death are:
- Falling out of bed: 1 in 203
- Tripping or slipping: 1 in 175
- Falling down the stairs: 1 in 69
- Based on the odds, if a person needs to choose the safer activity - motorcycling or skydiving - the chance of dying is greater for the motorcyclist (Pages 228-230). The odds that a jump will end in the death of the skydiver are 1 in 101,000 - or the same odds a person will visit an emergency room in a year due to an accident involving a drinking straw, the authors point out. The odds a motorcyclist will be killed in an accident in any given year are 1 in 1,777.
Maybe that pain on the lower left side of your abdomen is not as benign as you think. For individuals suffering from situs inversus, a condition where the internal organs are a mirror of the normal layout, it could be appendicitis (Page 138). The odds of having the diagnosis? 1 in 10,000.
In the case of a yearly bout of hay fever, the higher the family income the greater the risk (Page 152). The odds an adult with a family income of at least $100,000 will suffer from the allergy are about 1 in 10, but the odds for an adult living below the poverty line is 1 in 14.
Be Careful Who You Sleep With
Turns out sex can also be deadly especially if you are a male engaging in a post-heart attack, extra-marital affair. A study conducted by the American Heart Association looking into whether a heart attack patient could resume sexual activity uncovered the unexpected statistic.
Although the overall number of post-heart attacks patients who died during intercourse was low, up to 93 percent of those who died were engaging in an extramarital affair. The study suggests this phenomenon occurred because the men were often with younger women in unfamiliar settings - causing additional stress on their heart.
But, just as unlucky - for men or women -- are the individuals who have a STEMI, or ST-elevation myocardial infarction heart attack while in the hospital. According to a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, patients already in the hospital when the attack occurred were three times more likely to die.
Odds of Dying
If a heart attack doesn't kill you, maybe your birthday will. In a study that analyzed data from more than 2.4 million Swiss people, researchers learned that people 60 years of age or older were 18 percent more likely to die on their birthday that any other day. For women, the odds for a natural cause of death rose 22 percent on their birthday, whereas men were less lucky - experiencing a 29 percent increase in accidental causes for their demise.
- Being struck and killed by lightning: 1 in 83,930
- Walking down the street: 1 in 623
- A terrorist attack: 1 in 20 million
- Food poisoning: 1 in 3 million
- Drinking yourself to death: 1 in 10,048
For those worried about being attacked and killed by a shark while swimming at the beach, their fear would be better directed toward the backyard where a greater danger awaits. An individual is significantly more likely to die from a bee sting than from a shark attack.
A Long Life
When it comes to reaching the century point of life, your odds increase simply by living. In the Books of Odds (Page 56), the authors note that the odds of becoming a centenarian for:
- A 1 year old are 1 in 57
- A 50 year old are 1 in 54
- A 80 year old are 1 in 34
- A 90 year old are 1 in 12
The authors project that the number of centenarians will jump significantly over the next few decades -- growing from the current level of 75,000 members in the club to more than 600,000 by 2050.
That is, if some unusual, unfortunate accident doesn't claim the lives of potential club members first.