July 23, 2008

What are the odds (of dying)?

Well, for people born in 2004 (our kids are pretty close), here're the numbers:

National Safety Counsil

That should help us focus on what's important to worry about and what isn't. Note that the statistics do NOT normalize for activity. So you're less likely to die as a motorcycle rider than as a pedestrian ... unless, of course, you happen to be a motorcycle rider (to compare the two you'd have to take the inverse of the % of the population who ride motorcycles and multiply that by the number of deaths for pedestrians, assuming nearly everyone is a pedestrian).

In any case, the stats are pretty grim. Lifetime odds for dying in a:

Motor vehicle accident: 1 in 84.
(We all know more than 84 people, one of them is going to die in a vehicle accident.)
Self harm / suicide: 1 in 116.
Poison/drugs: 1 in 180.
Fall: 1 in 200.
Assault: 1 in 217.

Compare the above to things that people worry about like:

By a dog: 1 in 139,617
Contact with spiders: 1 in 269,262
(yet people worry about spiders)
Ignition or melting of nightware: 1 in 538,523
(a very small reason to sleep naked)
Fireworks discharge: 1 in 1,884,832
(side note: when my kid is older he is SO getting illegal bottle rockets etc. from Indian Reservations as demonstration of his father's belief in civil disobedience ... and no one is going to use the safety argument against me)

Common worries that end up in the middle:

Drowning: 1 in 1,140
Exposure to smoke/fire/flames: 1 in 1,167
Exposure to forces of nature (heat, cold, etc.): 1 in 3,421

Oh, in case anyone gets freaked out by the falls being 1 in 200 and wants to buy more baby gates, note that:

Fall from stairs in particular: 1 in 2,301
Fall on same level (on the ground): 1 in 846

And the gun argument?

Accidental firearm discharge: 1 in 5,808

Compared to

Assault by firearm: 1 in 324
Any assault: 1 in 217

Seeing that a gun is the only defense from another gun, and the best defense against any assault, it appears that the statistics say that it's best to get a conceal-carry permit and pack heat 24/7. Guns in your hands = good. Guns in other people's hands = bad -- by an order of magnitude. I suppose this is why police/military/etc. carry them.

Net result: Spend your money on your car and baby seat.

Oh, the proverbial struck by lightning? 1 in 81,949. So if the odds are bigger than this then just stop worrying about it.

Posted by rick at 02:25 PM