Tuesday, 27 September 2011


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.

In 2003, the last year for which worldwide deaths have been tabulated by the Red Cross, natural disasters killed 76,000 people. The figure was skewed by two events: a heat wave in Europe that overcame more than 22,000 and an earthquake in Iran that killed upwards of 30,000. (Earthquakes kill roughly 10,000 people every year, on average.)

All figures below are for U.S. residents.

Cause of Death Lifetime Odds

Heart Disease  5/1f

Cancer 7/1

Stroke 23/1

Accidental Injury 36/1

Motor Vehicle Accident 100/1

Intentional Self-harm (suicide) 121/1

Falling Down 246/1

Assault by Firearm 325/1

Fire or Smoke 1,116/1

Natural Forces (heat, cold, storms, quakes, etc.) 3,357/1

Electrocution 5,000/1

Drowning 8,942/1

Air Travel Accident 20,000/1

Flood* (included also in Natural Forces above) 30,000/1

Legal Execution 58,618/1

Tornado* (included also in Natural Forces above) 60,000/1

Lightning Strike (included also in Natural Forces above) 83,930/1

Snake, Bee or other Venomous Bite or Sting 100,000/1

Earthquake (included also in Natural Forces above) 131,890/1

Dog Attack 147,717/1

Asteroid Impact 200,000/1 

Tsunami 500,000/1

Fireworks Discharge 615,488/1

At The Hands Of An Angry Inuit (Eskimo) while trying to sell ice cubes (ask your affiliate marketing manager for best odds)