I was doing some research for another email today and found some interesting facts along the lines of the “here’s a few of things that are a lot more dangerous to you than sharks – but that you probably don’t worry about nearly as much”.
First, according to a very good National Geographic article: “Each year there are about 50 to 70 confirmed shark attacks and 5 to 15 shark-attack fatalities around the world. The numbers have risen over the past several decades but not because sharks are more aggressive: Humans have simply taken to coastal waters in increasing numbers.”
Here are some other ways to die:
- The United States averages just 16 shark attacks each year and slightly less than one shark-attack fatality every two years. Meanwhile, in the coastal U.S. states alone, lightning strikes and kills more than 41 people each year. (from the NG article)
- In 2009, this Wikipedia entry states that 33 people in the United States were killed by dogs. 13 of them were allegedly pit bulls (!).
- Elevators and Escalators kill about 30 people every year in the US and injure over 17,000. (About half of the deaths are attributed to working on or installing the equipment).
- Choking killed 160 children in the year 2000 in the US according to stats referenced by this Yahoo Answers entry. After food, candy, especially hard candy, is what you have to be really careful with.
- Toasters have been used with success in a few recent shark ads. It seems to be with good reason. The Consumer Product Safety Commission in the US refers to over 300 electrocutions per year.
What about 150 people killed each year by coconuts you say? Well, the internet says it is true and the internet says it is false (or at least a very crude estimate). You’ll have to decide for yourself. Vending Machines falling on top of you? Yep, that one seems to be true but for people tipping vending machines over for a free soda, I put that in the Darwinian category.
The overall message is to keep in mind the reason behind stats like these. They are popular because writers are trying to come up with information that is even 1/10th as ‘sticky’ as Capt. Quint’s quotes.