What are out odds of death in normal situations? Most of us have a fear of death or, more specifically, how ours might occur. A few of those fears are real, but most are somewhat irrational, and usually occur to us at 3 o’clock in the morning. The following list of odds of death may include some of yours. If it doesn’t, I will be pleased to add them in future blogs, if you would like to send them to me.
I. THE FEAR: PIGS: They’re just waiting to attack.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) keeps exhaustive statistics about how Americans die. Unfortunately, the swine clearly got to the CDC, too. Killer pigs fall under a broad “contact with other mammals” category, which means they can blame cows for their crimes. There are countless stories of people being eaten by pigs, including an Oregon hog farmer whose dentures were all that remained of him. Police couldn’t determine whether the farmer died from natural causes and was eaten, or was murdered and eaten. I know.
“I like pigs,” Sherrie Webb told me when I called not to ask her whether pigs are killers but to warn her that they are. She’s the director of animal welfare for the National Pork Board (pork.org) and an obvious pig apologist. “They can be quite friendly,” she said. You poor doomed woman, I thought.
Odds of Death: High, whenever you encounter a pig.
II. THE FEAR: Microwaves pull chemicals out of plastic and into your food.
Bisphenol A (or BPA) is an additive in hard, clear plastic, including most takeout and food-storage containers. When you put those things in the microwave, the heat created causes BPA to leach into your food—and, thus, into you. One National Institutes of Health study of rats found that high levels of BPA exposure “during pregnancy and/or lactation can reduce survival, birth weight, and growth of offspring early in life, and delay the onset of puberty.” That same study, however, pointed out that the exposure necessary to achieve those results was “far in excess of the highest estimated daily intake” of BPA. Although the FDA maintains that the amount of BPA in everyday plastics is safe, there is no consensus on the long-term effects.
Odds of Death: Use a real plate.
III. THE FEAR: Bits of Teflon will migrate to your food and poison you.
One of the main chemicals used to make Teflon, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), can cause various cancers and reduce fertility in lab animals. But the high temperatures used to make your pans completely remove PFOA. In fact, the American Cancer Society says there are no known risks to eating food cooked on Teflon pans. What you do need to worry about is letting the pan reach too high heat. The fluoropolymers in Teflon start to break down at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. At around 680 degrees, they release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens. Breathing the released fumes can cause respiratory problems and a flu-like illness.
Odds of Death: Eat your eggs. You’ll be fine, but don’t let the pan overheat too much.
IV. THE FEAR: If you put a fork or a knife in an electrical outlet, you’ll be electrocuted.
When you stick something in only one of the terminals, you’re not completing the circuit and nothing will happen. But touch the hot terminal and the neutral, say, or the hot and something grounded, and you’re in trouble. This is surprisingly common. The National Fire Protection Association reports that 5,500 people went to the emergency room in 2015 with injuries from electrical outlets.
Odds of Death: Painful, not fatal.
V. THE FEAR: High heel shoes impede your ability to use the pedals when driving.
There are plenty of possible issues: Your shoe can get caught in the brake pedal or fall off and get stuck behind it. Your wife can catch you. Flip-flops are just as bad. If you can, avoid wearing any kind of loose shoe while driving. Or go barefoot. It’s not illegal.
Odds of Death: Put them on when you get there.
VI. THE FEAR: Boats plugged into power at a dock or marina could electrify the water.
This happens, rarely, when there’s a fault in the grounding system. If the current moves to the water, it can freeze a swimmer’s muscles and lead to drowning. William Burke at the NFPA estimates that there are five to 15 such cases reported each year.
Odds of Death: Send the dog in first.
VII. THE FEAR: Getting punched in the nose can send bone fragments into your brain.
Although the American Academy of Family Physicians reports that approximately 40 percent of facial trauma injuries are broken noses, very few, if any, of those result in death. The nasal bone is short and relatively far from the brain. Driving it into the brain would essentially require caving in the entire front of someone’s skull, and most human fists can’t do that. What can kill you are complications from a broken nose, such as a septal hematoma—a collection of blood within the septum that could become infected—or damage to the cribriform plate that separates the nasal cavity from the skull and is very thin, which can result in an infection in your brain.
Odds of Death: Very low. Lower if you buy the guy a beer and apologize. However, be careful if he is ex-special forces, they trained to kill that way – break your nose, then, hit the nose bone hard up into the brain.
VIII. THE FEAR: When cars battle people, the cars always win.
The pursuit of automotive autonomy has been a boon for safety, and has led to features such as automatic braking and lane-departure warnings becoming common, even in less expensive cars. Along with driver safety, manufacturers are focused on making collisions with pedestrians less lethal. Which is good, considering that, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2013, 4,735 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents, and another 66,000 were injured. New safety features include rounded edges, sloping hoods, and a lack of hood ornaments.
Odds of Death: Excellent. Stay out of the road.
IX. THE FEAR: If you aren’t careful, anything can kill you. And it will.
When I tell my mother that she’s made me afraid of everything, she beams with pride. In her view, instilling me with fear continues to be one of her most important jobs as a parent. I can’t plunge to my death in a small plane if I never get in one. I can’t break my wrist falling on black ice if I stay indoors after every snowstorm. Last summer, on a weekend visit, she called me back inside when I’d left her house for a morning jog without putting on the bear bells she’d bought for me. After 30 years of banning any of us from the grass in her backyard (the ticks!) she finally relented—right after she replaced it with tick-resistant mulch. I’m not as big of a scaredy-cat as she is (I hid the bells in the mailbox until I got back), but I have learned to view most things in life as potentially dangerous. This has made me miss out on some exciting opportunities, like flying to the Alaskan bush in a prop plane to watch bear fish from the riverbank. But, on the plus side, I’m also not dead.
Odds of Death: 100%……..eventually!