Tsunamis in south Asia, flooding and mudslides in Southern California and blizzards in the upper Midwest – suddenly, even a glance at the news might be enough to convince us that Mother Nature has gone on a rampage.
It’s a forbidding world out there. But we can take some comfort in the fact that natural disasters are rare and the chance that any one of us will perish in a tidal wave, hurricane, earthquake or other natural calamity is very low. That’s even though studies conducted over the past 25 years consistently have found that most people believe the odds are very high.
Statistically speaking, a person is more likely to die by falling from a tall building, slipping in the bathtub or being legally executed than to perish in an earthquake, flood or cataclysmic storm such as a hurricane, according to the latest estimates by the National Safety Council derived from 2001 data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau.
The overall chance that an individual born in 2001 will die from any “force of nature” is estimated to be 1 in 3,357.
Here are the lifetime odds of succumbing to various natural calamities:
Exposure to excessive natural cold: 1 in 6,165
Exposure to excessive natural heat: 1 in 12,310
Cataclysmic storm: 1 in 68,388
Lightning: 1 in 83,930
Flood: 1 in 105, 512
Earthquake: 1 in 131,890
Exposure to all other unspecified forces of nature: 1 in 92,323
And here are the lifetime odds of expiring from some specific causes of death, based on official tallies:
Suicide: 1 in 121
Car accident: 1 in 247
Pedestrian accident: 1 in 608
Complications from medical or surgical care: 1 in 1,222
Riding a bike: 1 in 4,663
Falling from a ladder or scaffold: 1 in 8,412
Legal execution: 1 in 58,618
Being buried alive in a cave-in or landslide: 1 in 65,945
Dog bite: 1 in 147,717
Fireworks accident: 1 in 615,488
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