5 Common Things That Are Far More Life-Threatening Than the Things You Actually Fear

What’s something that you’re afraid of because it can kill you?

We don’t want to scare you or make you more anxious, but the world can be a frightening place. Images of accidents, natural disasters, violence, and other such dangers permeate our media, startling fear in many.

While most people are more or less aware of these threats, other, far more mundane things are statistically much more likely to kill us. For instance, a rip current is more likely to get you before a shark does.

We’ve rounded up five common things that are far more life-threatening than the things most of us actually fear. Let’s get started!

food poisoning
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1. Food poisons more people than carbon monoxide

Every year, around 430 people die in the United States of carbon monoxide poisoning. Cars produce carbon monoxide every day, and your furnace might make the next freezing winter night your last. Once inhaled, carbon monoxide bonds to the hemoglobin in the blood, making this vital body fluid useless.

While the concerns surrounding this dangerous killer are understandable, you may want to worry more about improperly cooked food. Foodborne diseases kill 3,000 US residents per year. Most food poisoning cases are caused by poultry, although leafy greens, nuts, and fruits cause many cases as well.

Several deaths might be prevented by basic measures such as proper handwashing and cooking food at the right temperature.

2. Summer’s heat will kill you before lightning

Not only does it get hot in the summer, but during the summer months is also when one might fear encountering temperatures hotter than the sun’s surface. Lightning can hit temperatures of 50,000 degrees F, causing serious burns as well as killing an average of 50 people each year in the US. Contrary to popular belief, most lightning strike victims aren’t struck directly but instead die because they’re near another object that is struck.

While the fear of dying like this is understandable, you’re over 10 times more likely to succumb to excessive heat exposure, which usually kills 618 people each year in the United States.

Dying from heat is a pretty nasty way to go. As your temperature goes up, your body tries to cool down by sending more blood closer to the skin to radiate heat. This process deprives your internal organs of oxygen, and once your temperature reaches 104 degrees F, your kidneys fail and your brain will get less blood. If your body makes it to 120 degrees F and you’re not already dead, your body cells will suffer direct heat damage.

Photo by Lemonsoup14 from Shutterstock

3. A rip current will get you before a shark does

Going to the beach is a common and enjoyable summer pastime for people across the globe. Such outings aren’t without danger, of course. You could get sung by a jellyfish, suburned, or bitten by a shark.

Most unprovoked shark attacks on humans happen because the shark mistakenly identifies the victim as a fish or seal. In situations like this, they usually take one bite and then swim away upon testing a distinctive lack of fish or seal. Of course, those single bites can still cause severe injury or death.

It’s important to note that these mistakes are quite rare; most shark attacks occur because they have been provoked by humans in some way.

At the same time, if you’re in the water and feel your body pulled away from safety, a rip current is far more likely to be responsible than a shark. Rip currents are way more powerful than you may realize. According to experts, they can drag you away from shore faster than an Olympic swimmer can swim.

Most people think that, in a situation like this, you should directly swim against the rip current, but this is a mistake. Doing this will only lead to fatigue and drowning.

It’s estimated that more than 100 people drown each year in the United States due to rip currents. On the other hand, someone dies in our country from a shark attack only once every two years.

4. More people die falling out of beads than from roller coasters

Some people love roller coasters; some people can’t even think of going on one. The great heights and high speeds offer a relatively safe thrill for amusement park goers. However, accidents do occur, and roller coasters kill about four people in the United States each year.

One-quarter of roller coaster fatalities are occupational deaths involving workers. Half are caused by a rider’s health condition being exacerbated by the ride; these can easily be prevented by increasing awareness through signs warning sufferers of certain medical conditions against boarding. Only the final quarter is caused by some type of trauma to a parkgoer, such as falling off a roller coaster.

However, rest assured: You probably won’t die the next time you ride a roller coaster. You’re way more likely to die from falling out of your own bed. In the US, 450 people die this way every year. Ironically, bed rails sometimes make things worse. Hospitals have noticed that stubborn patients try to climb over them and end up falling farther than they would have otherwise.

binge drinking
Photo by Olga Kri from Shutterstock

5. Binge drinking kills more people than all other drugs combined

Roughly 80,000 Americans die each year from binge drinking, which is defined as four or more alcoholic beverages in a short period of time for women or five or more for men. Most of these deaths may not be caused directly by alcohol poisoning, but drunken violence and car crashes can be just as deadly.

While the common belief is that drugs are more dangerous than alcohol, statistics show otherwise. For instance, in 2021, there were 41,000 drug-related deaths reported in the US, and 44,000 in 2013. In other words, there are two times more deaths caused by alcohol poisoning than deaths caused by a drug overdose.

These figures include overdoses on legal prescription drugs; illegal drugs account for less than 50% of overdose deaths. So people should be more worried about drinking alcohol than smoking pot.

If you liked this article, you may also want to read The Most Notorious States for Robbery: A Ranking.

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