Monday, November 22, 2010

A note on safety (odds of dying)...

I don't often post about items that move into the realm of the political, though I do have strong feelings about politics and I do feel that our political environment and elections have consequences which will deeply affect our children so occasionally I will post issue-based discussions about political goings-on while still trying to distance my blog from a "partisan position"... it is after all about the issues which could affect our children not the (D) or the (R) next to a person's name.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself— nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." ~Franklin Roosevelt.

Did you know the 1-year odds of dying in a car accident is about 1 in 6500 and the lifetime probability is about 1 in 83? What about walking across the street? A 1-year risk of 1 in 48,500 and a lifetime risk of 1 in 625. The chances of dying from being struck or bitten by another mammal in your lifetime is 1 in 51,550. Drowning? A 1-year risk of 1 in 88,000 and a 1 in 1100 lifetime risk. In a fire? About the same as drowning. Murder? A 1-year risk of 1 in 16,500 and a lifetime risk of 1 in 210. Being struck by lightning? A 1-year risk of 1 in 6.2 million and a lifetime risk of 1 in 80,000.

Despite this information, we get in cars every day, some with our children and some while texting, eating, reading, talking on the phone and some of those people also wear no seatbelts. We cross the street while glancing quickly from side to side without a thought. We and our children swim and some of us buy pools to keep in our yards. We sleep in houses that could burn, some of us even smoke which raises the chances of a fire. We walk the streets and go about our business knowing that murderers could lurk amongst us. Some crazy people even walk outside in the rain or drive in a storm as if lightning never crossed their mind. We could outlaw driving with any potential distractions and create mandatory screening before driving for all Americans. We could shoot any animals that come near us though it would surely increase our chances of being killed by a firearm (currently 1 in 4,317). We could ban all bodies of water. Murderers? Why not take away all weapons from everyone and mandate daily psychological screenings for those people who wish to leave their house? Fire? Don’t get me started… we could outlaw candles and electricity or maybe we could sleep outside on the ground, but that would just increase our chances of being hit by lightning. What are we to do?!

What is important is we keep danger in perspective, right? What about figures on terrorism? Well, if we count only the attacks that have succeeded we are talking figures much lower than the odds of being struck by lightning, but in this area we feel the need to take action by allowing TSA’s to view us naked and touch parts of our body that we teach our children should never be touched by a stranger? The logic is lost on me and I can’t support the screening/patting system as is. Choose one day a month not to drive your car and you’ll decrease your odds of an untimely death by more than any screening methods in an airport ever will. Stop smoking and slow down consumption of cholesterol and you’ll up your odds against an early demise beyond the complete elimination of terrorism. Yet we don’t allow the government to tell us what to eat or how to cook, because we feel the freedom to choose amongst these vices is our right.

I agree with the assertion that the only way to defeat terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized. We live in a world full of danger, we do what we can, reasonably, to avoid the dangers and we go about our lives trying to enjoy them. We will all die some day and most of us will face death earlier than we should because we didn’t eat right, we drank too much, we smoked too much and we didn’t exercise… not because we didn’t allow bureaucrats to check out our private parts. In the end, our odds of dying are 100%... so what I tend to find more important is how we live.

Sources of my info and some of the ideas behind these statements:
Cartoons from &

No comments:

Post a Comment