Many people are extremely afraid of shark attacks, but the truth is that it’s pretty unlikely you’ll ever be killed by a shark. In fact, it is estimated that there will be less than one fatal shark attack every two years in the United States, and that less than six people will be killed worldwide each year. However, you might be shocked by just how many seemingly unlikely causes of death are way more likely! Here are fifteen of the most surprising, which will reassure you about sharks but might leave you with the distinct impression that everything else is out to get you.
Hurricanes, tornadoes and severe storms claim the lives of around 180 people in the US every year, often after overhead structures, collapsing houses or moving objects cause injury. Other causes of death associated with wind include traffic accidents, drowning and heart conditions exacerbated by fear.
Jellyfish stings can be highly poisonous, with some triggering anaphylaxis. For example, up to 40 people in the Philippines are killed by jellyfish every year. It also be hard to spot an approaching jellyfish due to the almost transparent nature of some breeds.
3. Falling coconuts
As bizarre as it sounds, around 150 people are allegedly killed by falling coconuts every year! The next time you think about planning a vacation to a desert island, you might want to steer clear of the tallest palm trees just in case you happen to become the next unlikely victim of these surprising projectiles.
A more believable item on the list, mosquitos kill half a million to a million people every year through the spread of malaria. This serious tropical disease can develop after just a single bite from the pesky mosquito, and within a week the symptoms of high fever, vomiting and widespread pain begin to develop. If you’re going abroad, find out whether you might need to take antimalarial drugs, and protect yourself from bites by covering any exposed skin.
Though you might look forward to having a tasty lunch or to arranging a fun dinner date, food can kill you! More specifically, choking on food is responsible for roughly 3,000 deaths a year. All the more reason to encourage your loved ones to learn how to perform the Heimlich maneuver.
If you think about it, you’ll realize that icicles are like spikey daggers that could easily pose a risk to your health. The problem is that they begin to melt and then drop from high places when temperatures start to increase. Russian mortality statistics suggest an average of 100 people are killed by icicles in that country each year.
7. People running red lights
Annually, people choosing to run red lights leads to around 2,000 American deaths. Some of these fatalities result from car wrecks, while others involve hitting unsuspecting pedestrians who mistakenly assume it’s safe for them to cross the street.
If you fall out of your bed when you roll over in your sleep, there’s a chance you’ll never wake up again. There are particularly obvious risks attached to falling onto hardwood floors, and it is apparently estimated that around one in a million deaths occur in this way.
Cows reportedly cause 22 deaths in America each year, mainly when they crush people during herding. These weighty beasts may not mean to hurt you, but their strength can easily kill if you get between them and a fence.
10. Raw meat
A shocking 5,000 people will die after consuming improperly cooked meat contaminated with bacteria (and that’s just in the US!). Always stick to the ‘use by’ dates on your meat, and wash your hands (as well as any surfaces) after you prepare chicken or beef in particular.
Although sharks typically inspire more fear, dogs are way more commonly encountered and way more likely to cause your death. Up to 35 American people are killed by dogs each year. Many serious or fatal dog attacks result from poor training, so it’s important for all owners to be educated about behavioral problems. If you don’t know a dog, it’s better not to approach it. Meanwhile, always be sensitive to cues that the dog is aggressive or fearful, such as growling, showing teeth and flattening the ears.
12. High school and college football
While there are undeniable perks associated with getting involved in high school or college athletic programs, it can also be incredibly dangerous. In particular, when you combine statistics about both high school and college football, you find that injuries claim the lives of approximately twelve people per year. Many of these are brain injuries, but it’s also worth noting that underlying heart conditions cause a sizeable proportion of football-related deaths.
13. Tripping in your house
Tripping in your own home (in the sense of falling over rather than being high on drugs) can be serious, with around 6,000 people dying in this way each year. The risk heightens in older age, when mobility decreases, bones are typically more easily fractured, and recovery is more difficult. Fatal head injuries resulting from falls are also a fairly common cause of death.
Finally, don’t forget about all the people who are killed by dangerous low temperatures every year. It is estimated that around 600 people in the US die from cold weather each year, sometimes due to financial problems and at other times due to being stuck outdoors for too long. In some cases, the hazards posed by cold weather are also exacerbated by alcohol consumption, which increases heat loss while undermining accurate perception of coldness.