Are You Feeling (Un) Lucky?

Clint Eastwood inspired us all to consider risks in the Dirty Harry movies.  Everybody knows that in Russian roulette the odds of 1 in 6 are not in your favour when it comes to pulling the trigger.  Odds of 1 in 100 make come people complacent.  In general, people are at home with the really long odds of fatalities from serious events.  Some examples (see flooding highlighted):

SOURCES: http://www.nsc.org/lrs/statinfo/odds.htm - all records from 2002

1     Risk of Dying next year: Transport Accidents
Pedestrian 1 in 47,273
Pedal Cyclist 1 in 375,412
Motor Cycle Rider 1 in 89,562
Car occupant 1 in 17,625

2    Risk of Dying next year: Transport Accidents
Occupant  of pick-up truck or van 1 in 67,182
Traveling in heavy transport vehicle 1 in 631,450
Occupant  of a bus 1 in 6,696,307
Riding horse or animal drawn vehicle 1 in 244,180

3 Risk of Dying next year: Transport Accidents
While on railway train 1 in 10,283,615
Occupant of street car 1 in 71,985,305
Occupant of agricultural vehicle 1 in  1,932,491
While on water transportation 1 in 466,679
From air and space accidents 1 in 440,951

4 Risk of Dying next year: Falls
Tripping/slipping at same level 1 in 445,729
Falling from bed, chair or furniture 1 in 366,804
Falling from stairs or steps 1 in 180,188
Falling from ladder or scaffolding 1 in 709,215
Falling out of building 1 in 516,950

5    Risk of Dying next year: Struck by objects unintentionally
Hit by some object 1 in 333,265
Caught between 2 objects 1 in 2,503,837
Contact with machinery 1 in 441,628
Contact with sharp objects 1 in 2,742,297

6 Risk of Dying next year: Explosions
Unintentional firearms discharge 1 in 57,588,244
Explosion of pressurized vessels 1 in 10,664,490
Explosion of fireworks 1 in 57,588,244
Explosion of other materials 1 in 2,101,781

7 Risk of Dying next year: Animate causes
Struck by a person 1 in 11,074,662
Bitten by a dog 1 in 15,966,734
Bitten by other mammals 1 in 3,839,216
Bitten or stung by insect 1 in  22,149,325

8 Risk of Dying next year: Accidental drowning
All causes 1 in 83,534
In bath tub 1 in 818,015
In swimming pool 1 in 452,738
In natural water 1 in 217,314

9 Risk of Dying next year: Accidental threats to breathing
Suffocation in bed 1 in 565,700
Strangulation 1 in 969,499
Cave-in or falling earth 1 in 5,051,600
Food- in respiratory tract 1 in 351,577

10 Risk of Dying next year: Electricity, temperature
Electric transmission lines 1 in 2,641,663
Other electric current 1 in 894,227
Contact with hot tap water 1 in 7,198,531
Excessive  man-made heat or cold 1 in 28,784,122

11 Risk of Dying next year: Smoke, fire and flames
All causes 1 in 91,149
Uncontrolled fire in building 1 in 113,676
Controlled fire in building 1 in 8,226,892
Ignition of nightwear 1 in 22,149,325

12 Risk of Dying next year: Venomous Animals and plants
Contact with venomous snakes 1 in  95,980,407
Contact with venomous spiders 1 in 28,794,122
Contact  hornets, wasps and bees 1 in 5,332,245

13 Risk of Dying next year: Forces of Nature
All types and causes 1 in 236,211
From Lightning strikes 1 in 4,326,748
From earthquakes 1 in 9,288,426
From cataclysmic storm 1 in 4,570,498
From Floods 1 in 31,993,469
Excessive natural heat 1 in 822,689
Excessive natural cold 1 in 445,729

14 Risk of Dying next year: Poisoning and Noxious Substances
All types and causes 1 in 16,407
Gases and vapors 1 in 416,702
Alcohol 1 in 811,102
Pain relievers, anti-rheumatics etc 1 in 1,297,033
Narcotics and hallucinogens 1 in 34,843

15 Risk of dying next year: Intentional Self-Harm
All types and causes 1 in 9,096
Self -poisoning 1 in 52,487
Self-hanging, strangulation 1 in 44,559
Self-harm by firearm 1 in 16,831

16 Risk of dying next year: Assault by someone else
All types and cases 1 in 16,325
Assault by firearm 1 in 24,342
Assault by sharp object 1 in 138,834
Legal execution 1 in 4,297,630

17 Risk of dying next year: Cause known – undetermined intent
Poisoning 1 in 86,313
Hanging, strangulation 1 in 2,164,927
Firearm discharge 1 in 1,184,943
Falling from high place 1 in 2,795,546
Drowning or submersion 1 in 1,111,742

18 Risk of dying next year: Medical Conditions
Complications by medical and surgical care 1 in 101,281
Various medicaments and biologics 1 in 41,828
Anti-epileptic, sedative-hypnotic, etc 1 in 281,193
Overexertion, travel and privation 1 in 2,249,541

19 Likelihood of Mother Dying During Childbearing
In Developed Regions of World 1 death per 5000 live births
In Europe 1 death per 4167 live births
In Latin America and Caribbean 1 death per 526 live births
In Asia 1 death per 303 live births
In Africa 1 death per 120 live births

20 Lifetime Risk of Death in Childbearing
(includes risk per pregnancy and likely number of pregnancies.)
In North America 1 in 3750
In Europe 1 in 1895
Lain America & Caribbean 1 in 150
In Asia 1 in 105
In Africa 1 in 15

21 Unintentional Injury Deaths in Infants <1 year of age
Mechanical suffocation 1 in 18,970 live births
Motor vehicle (traffic) 1 in 22,075 live births
Fire and Flames 1 in 35,211 live births
Drowning 1 in 46,948 live births
Inhalation of non-food object 1 in 57,142 live births

22 Annual Risk of Death at Work
All workers 1 in 28,571
Agricultural workers 1 in 3,425
Mining 1 in 3,534
Professional & Business services 1 in 34,483
Financial activities 1 in 142,858

23 Annual Risk of Death at Home
All people, all risks 1 in 7,875
Death from Falls 1 in 23,162
Death from Poisoning 1 in 30,288
Death from Fires 1 in 87,500

24 Annual Risk of Death from Choking
Overall rate of Death 1 in 70,000
Risk for Teenager 13-20 years 1 in 1,000,000
Risk for Senior aged 53-63 years 1 in 100,000
Risk for Aged Person 75-84 years 1 in 10,000
Risk for Person 90-94 years 1 in 2,000

In general, we are all “at home with” many of the risks of likelihoods in the range 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 10 million.  When you examine the broad band of likelihoods for potentially fatal risks, it suggests that some high profile worries are of such low probabilities that logically society might do better to devote its resources to other more routine risks that are harming or even killing many more people in our society.

Similarly, events that have a high likelihood, and that are becoming more severe in term of damages should be revisited in terms of resources devoted to risk identification, risk prevention, risk remediation and in the case of flooding risks, emergency response.

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