Editor’s note: This article first appeared on Insure.com and is reprinted here with their permission. Click here for the original post.
Some fears are hardwired into humans, and for good reason: Lightning storms, towering heights and predatory animals have signaled danger since the beginning of human history.
But what isn’t hardwired into humans is the likelihood that a given danger will be fatal. For instance, numerous people struggle with a fear of flying, though the odds of dying in an airplane crash are remote. Yet comparatively few people dread traveling in an automobile, which statistics show brings a much higher chance of death.
To put in perspective what people should really worry about, the National Safety Council (NSC) this month released a list of fatal accident types, ranked by the odds that they will bring about the average person’s demise. The results reveal that some of the things humans fear intrinsically are among the least likely to actually cause their deaths.
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One caution: These odds are statistical averages for the U.S. population, which means that they do not represent any one person’s chance of dying from these things. In other words, if you ride your bike 15 miles to work each day down a busy thoroughfare, your odds of dying in a cycling accident are probably higher than the national average (1 in 4,535).
With that said, here are five frightening calamities from the NSC list that aren’t likely to kill you — along with five ordinary things that might.
No. 1: Lightning
Odds it will kill you: 1 in 164,968
There are few dangers that cause a more visceral response than a too-close-for-comfort flash of lightning (and the subsequent crack of thunder). But as a murderer, lightning has an incredibly low success ratio.
A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) study indicates that 261 people were killed by lightning in the U.S. from 2006 to 2013. Males represented 81 percent of these deaths, something that the NOAA attributes in part to males’ willingness to put themselves in more vulnerable positions in storm conditions.
So if you’re a woman, even the long odds above may overstate the dangers of lightning.
What may kill you instead: Chronic lower respiratory disease (1 in 28 odds)
No. 2: Dog attack
Odds it will kill you: 1 in 116,448
The approach of an unfamiliar dog — particularly if it’s a large or otherwise intimidating breed — is enough to prime virtually any human’s fight-or-flight system. And again, there’s good reason for this: 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Yet fatal dog attacks on humans are very rare. The AVMA reports that 31 people died of dog bites in the U.S. in 2013.
Perhaps dogs don’t strike fear in your heart? Many other potentially deadly animals pose even less of a threat to humans. Sharks, for instance, are significantly less likely to get you than even dogs: Three people worldwide died from shark attacks in 2014, according to the University of Florida, and none of those attacks occurred in the U.S.
What may kill you instead: Overdosing on opioid prescription painkillers (1 in 234 odds)
No. 3: Commercial plane crash
Odds it will kill you: 1 in 96,566