What Will You Die Of?
Death be not proud! You’ll take us all some day, but if we’re health-smart it’ll be later rather than sooner
Ever wonder what your odds are of being shot, struck by lightning or even flattened by a falling air conditioner? (Yes, it happens.) If so, the National Safety Council’s Odds of Dying chart allows you to indulge your morbid curiosity.
It can also help you gain some perspective on the role you play in your own lifespan. In the graphic below (click on it to enlarge), the largest of the circles (in beige) shows that we all have a 1 in 1 chance of dying. No surprise: Like taxes, death is inevitable.
In other words, we’re at greater risk of dying from a partly preventable chronic condition than from the kind of freak accident folks often fear.
Some surprising odds
- Your risk of dying from heat on a blistering hot day is about the same as your risk of dying in a superstorm (1 in 6,745 vs. 1 in 6,780).
- You’re at greater risk of dying as a pedestrian than you are riding a motorcycle (1 in 704 vs. 1 in 911).
- You’re more likely to die in a fall than be killed by a gun (1 in 144 vs. 1 in 358).
- Crossing the street is more likely to be deadly than being stung by a hornet, bee or wasp (1 in 704 vs. 55,764).
- You’re far more likely to overdose on a prescription painkiller than be electrocuted (1 in 234 vs. 1 in 12,300).
- Dying from a car accident is much, much more likely (1 in 112) than dying an airplane crash (1 in 8,015).
In other words, you can’t control being the unlucky person killed by concrete falling off a freeway overpass, but your odds of being that person are tiny. What you can avoid, possibly, is being the person who has a fatal fall in the shower or is killed in a car crash because he caught a ride home with a friend who was intoxicated.
How to cheat death
Here are some tips for reducing your odds of a sudden preventable death, according to the National Safety Council:
- If you drive, don’t speed.
- Use your seat belt.
- Have a non-drinking designated driver for evenings out.
- Don’t use your cell phone or text while driving.
- Wipe up spills and put cords out of reach.
- Install handrails and non-slip bathmats in the tub and shower.
- Never share your prescription drugs or take more than prescribed.