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The 25 Most Common Causes of Death


By Chris Jagger 

Have you sworn to never live in California for fear of the big earthquake striking? Is the chance of a terrorist encounter enough to keep you off airplanes? You should be more concerned about the fact that your car is a high-speed death pod, statistically speaking, or that bad lifestyle habits, in the long run, can put you at risk for a fatal disease. The truth is, you're 23 times more likely to die falling off a building than in a skydiving accident, and 40 thousand times more likely to die crossing the street than in a terrorist attack on a commercial airliner. We've tapped into the National Safety Council's annual rankings of the top causes of death in the U.S. along with the odds that they will occur. Ready to face the facts? See where your fears lie on our list.


#25: Exposure to excessive natural cold
Odds of dying: 1 in 7,399

People exposed to very cold temperatures die from hypothermia, which occurs when the core body temperature drops from the normal range of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) to below 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). Interestingly, Florida, one of the warmest states in the U.S., has hundreds of cases of hypothermia every year because residents are not as well prepared for cold weather when it comes, especially out at sea.


#24: Exposure to excessive natural heat
Odds of dying: 1 in 6,174
Apparently hot and cold weather are almost equally dangerous. Few people die from direct sun exposure, but rather from heatstroke, which occurs when the body temperature rises above 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.5 degrees Celsius). You are about 100 times more likely to die from excessive natural heat or cold than from excessive heat or cold of man-made origin (odds are 1 in 639,989), like freezers and saunas.


#23: Fall from a building
Odds of dying: 1 in 6,115
For most people skydiving is a risky, scary adventure, but statistically you are much more likely to die from a fall off a building at some point in your life. According to the United States Parachute Association, about 3 million jumps took place in 2010, but there were only 21 deaths. That's an average of 0.007 deaths per thousand jumps.


#22: Firearms discharge
Odds of dying: 1 in 5,981
In 2006, there were 862 undetermined/unintentional firearm deaths. Americans are statistically much more likely to die from firearms discharge than people in comparable countries. Total firearm-related deaths are eight times higher in the U.S. than in economic counterparts in other parts of the world, like Canada, England and France.


#21: Air and space transport accidents
Odds of dying: 1 in 5,862
Anyone who is afraid of flying on an airplane but isn't worried about driving every day should check the facts. Statistically, 1 out of every 5,862 people will die in aviation-related accidents while 1 in every 272 people will die in an automobile accident.


#20: Contact with machinery
Odds of dying: 1 in 5,189
People with arachnophobia should know that they are almost 200 times more likely to die from contact with machinery than contact with venomous spiders, where the odds are almost 1 in a million. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, types of machinery likely to cause injury or death include heating, cooling and cleaning, construction, logging, mining and special materials machinery.


#19: Choking on food
Odds of dying: 1 in 4,404
You should be more worried about the food you eat than having an irrational fear, like dying in a terrorist attack. The truth is that only 1 in 25 million people will be killed in a terrorist attack aboard a commercial airliner, yet 1 in 4,404 people will die via asphyxiation from choking on food, so you are better off being afraid of your brunch.


#18: Fall involving bed, chair or other furniture
Odds of dying: 1 in 4,238
Beds, couches and furniture exist in our homes to provide personal comfort and relaxation, but they are associated with death far more often than most would think. Falls are the leading cause of death among people over the age of 65. A person is far more likely to die falling out of bed, a chair or other furniture at home than traveling on a railway, where the odds are 1 in 225,879.



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