When major catastrophes strike, like the recent Asian earthquake and tsunami, the mass deaths can lead one to think that natural disasters are the most likely way people can die.
Not by a long shot.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the leading causes of death in the United States are, in this order, heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and “accidental injury,” a broad category that includes a lot of stuff that just happens.
You are more likely to commit suicide or fall to your death than be killed by a tsunami or any natural disaster, the odds say. Refer to the table below.
The more specific figures are based on 2001, the most recent year for which complete data are available. Other odds, indicated with an asterisk (*) are based on long-term data.
All figures below are for U.S. residents.
|Cause of Death||Lifetime Odds|
|Motor Vehicle Accident*||1-in-100|
|Intentional Self-harm (suicide)||1-in-121|
|Assault by Firearm||1-in-325|
|Fire or Smoke||1-in-1,116|
|Natural Forces (heat, cold, storms, quakes, etc.)||1-in-3,357|
|Air Travel Accident*||1-in-20,000|
|Flood* (included also in Natural Forces above)||1-in-30,000|
|Tornado* (included also in Natural Forces above)||1-in-60,000|
|Lightning Strike (included also in Natural Forces above)||1-in-83,930|
|Snake, Bee or other Venomous Bite or Sting*||1-in-100,000|
|Earthquake (included also in Natural Forces above)||1-in-131,890|
So the moral of the story. Eat right, exercise regularly, see a doctor once a year, don’t be afraid to get in a bottle rocket fight with the kids down the street and the shape of the snake’s head probably isn’t all that important!