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National Safety Council's
What Are the Odds of Dying?
(Originally published here.)

The tables below were prepared in response to frequent inquiries, especially from the media, asking, "What are the odds of being killed by lightning?" or "What are the chances of dying in a plane crash?"

The first table lists all injury-related causes of death, including suicide and homicide, and shows them grouped by cause of death. The second table lists only unintentional causes and shows them in rank order from most likely to least likely which makes it easy to compare various causes. The data are for 1996 which is the latest year available.

Each table has four columns. The first column gives the manner of injury such as motor-vehicle crash, fall, fire, etc. The second column gives the total number of deaths nationwide in 1996 due to the manner of injury. The third column gives the odd of dying in one year due to the manner of injury. The fourth column gives the lifetime odds of dying from the manner of injury. Statements about the odds or chances of dying from a given cause of death may be made as follows:

  • The odds of dying from (manner of injury) in 1996 were 1 in (value given in the one-year odds column).
  • The life-time odds of dying from (manner of injury) for a person born in 1996 were 1 in (value given in the lifetime odds column).
For example, referring to the first line of the table below:
  • The odds of dying from an injury in 1996 were 1 in 1,765.
  • The lifetime odds of dying from an injury for a person born in 1996 were 1 in 23.
Source: National Safety Council estimates based on data from National Center for Health Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau. Deaths are classified on the basis of the Ninth Revision of "The International Classification of Diseases" (ICD). Numbers following titles refer to External Cause of Injury and Poisoning classifications in the ICD. Data for 1996 are the latest official figures. One year odds are approximated by dividing the 1996 population (265,284,000) by the number of deaths. Lifetime odds are approximated by dividing the one-year odds by the life expectancy of a person born in 1996 (76.1 years).

 

Odds of Death Due to Injury, United States, 1996

Note: Lines in italics are subcategories of other listed causes.

Lines enclosed in brackets, "[...]", are combinations of two or more lines shown elsewhere.

Manner of Injury

Deaths, 1996

One-year Odds

Life-time Odds

ALL INJURY DEATHS, E800-E999

150,298

1,765

23

All Accidental Deaths, E800-E949

94,948

2,794

37

Railway, E800-E807

565

469,529

6,170

Motor-vehicle, E810-E825

43,649

6,078

80

Pedestrian, .7 of E810-E825

6,028

44,009

578

Water transport, E830-E838

675

393,013

5,164

Drowning (excluded from drowning below), E830, E832

471

563,236

7,401

Other water transport, E831, E833-E838

204

1,300,412

17,088

Air and space transport, E840-E845

1,061

250,032

3,286

Poisoning by solids and liquids, E850-E866

8,872

29,901

393

Poisoning by gases and vapors, E867-E869

638

415,806

5,464

[Poisoning by solids, liquids, gases, vapors, E850-E869 ]

9,510

27,895

367

Complications, misadventures of surgical, medical care, E870-E879

2,919

90,882

1,194

Falls, E880-E888

14,986

17,702

233

Fire and flames, E890-E899

3,741

70,913

932

Excessive heat, E900

249

1,065,398

14,000

Excessive cold, E901

685

387,276

5,089

Hunger, thirst, exposure and neglect, E904

224

1,184,304

15,562

Poisoning by and toxic reaction to venomous animals, plants, E905

68

3,901,235

51,265

Venomous snakes, lizards, and spiders, E905.0, E905.1

13

20,406,462

268,153

Hornets, wasps and bees, E905.3

45

5,895,200

77,466

Other and unspecified animals, plants, E905.2, E905.4-E905.9

10

26,528,400

348,599

Other injury caused by animals, E906

107

2,479,290

32,579

Dog bite, E906.0

23

11,534,087

151,565

Other and unspecified injury by animal, E906.1-E906.9

84

3,158,143

41,500

Lightning, E907

63

4,210,857

55,333

Cataclysmic storms, and floods resulting from storms, E908

93

2,852,516

37,484

Cataclysmic earth surface movements and eruptions, E909

42

6,316,286

83,000

Other natural and environmental factors, E902, E903

19

13,962,316

183,473

Drowning, submersion (excluding water transport drownings above), E910

3,488

76,056

999

During sport or recreation, E910.0-E910.2

645

411,293

5,405

In bathtub, E910.4

330

803,891

10,564

Other, unspecified drowning, submersion, E910.3, E910.8, E910.9

2,513

105,565

1,387

[Drowning, all, E830, E832, E910 ]

3,959

67,008

881

Inhalation and ingestion of food, E911

1,126

235,599

3,096

Inhalation and ingestion of other object, E912

2,080

127,540

1,676

[Choking, E911-E912 ]

3,206

82,746

1,087

Mechanical suffocation, E913

1,114

238,136

3,129

Struck by falling object, E916

732

362,410

4,762

Struck against or by objects or persons, E917

171

1,551,368

20,386

Caught in or between objects, E918

71

3,736,394

49,098

Machinery, E919

926

286,484

3,765

Cutting or piercing instruments or objects, E920

97

2,734,887

35,938

Firearm missile, E922

1,134

233,937

3,074

Explosive material, E923

130

2,040,646

26,815

Fireworks, E923.0

9

29,476,000

387,332

Explosive gases, E923.2

49

5,413,959

71,143

Other and unspecified explosive material, E923.1, E923.8, E923.9

72

3,684,500

48,417

Hot substance or object, corrosive material and steam, E924

104

2,550,808

33,519

Electric current, E925

482

550,382

7,232

Other and unspecified accidents, E914, E915, E921, E926, E927, E928

2,984

88,902

1,168

Late effects (deaths more than one year after accident), E929

1,126

235,599

3,096

Adverse effects of drugs in therapeutic use, E930-E949

253

1,048,553

13,779

All Suicide Deaths, E950-E959

30,903

8,584

113

Suicide by firearm, E955.0-.4

18,166

14,603

192

All Homicide Deaths, E960-E969

20,634

12,857

169

Homicide by firearm, E965.0-.4

14,037

18,899

248

Legal Intervention, E970-E978

337

787,193

10,344

Undetermined Whether Accidentally or Purposely Inflicted, E980-E989

3,463

76,605

1,007

Deaths From Operations of War, E990-E999

13

20,406,462

268,153

 

Odds of Death Due to Unintentional Injury,
Selected Causes, United States, 1996

(in rank order)

Note: Lines in italics are subcategories of other listed causes.

Manner of Injury

Deaths, 1996

One-year Odds

Life-time Odds

All Accidental Deaths, E800-E949

94,948

2,794

37

Motor-vehicle, E810-E825

43,649

6,078

80

Falls, E880-E888

14,986

17,702

233

Poisoning by solids, liquids, gases, vapors, E850-E869

9,510

27,895

367

Poisoning by solids and liquids, E850-E866

8,872

29,901

393

Pedestrian, .7 of E810-E825

6,028

44,009

578

Drowning, all, E830, E832, E910

3,959

67,008

881

Fire and flames, E890-E899

3,741

70,913

932

Drowning, submersion (excluding water transport drownings above), E910

3,488

76,056

999

Choking, E911-E912

3,206

82,746

1,087

Complications, misadventures of surgical, medical care, E870-E879

2,919

90,882

1,194

Inhalation and ingestion of other object, E912

2,080

127,540

1,676

Firearm missile, E922

1,134

233,937

3,074

Late effects (deaths more than one year after accident), E929

1,126

235,599

3,096

Inhalation and ingestion of food, E911

1,126

235,599

3,096

Mechanical suffocation, E913

1,114

238,136

3,129

Air and space transport, E840-E845

1,061

250,032

3,286

Machinery, E919

926

286,484

3,765

Struck by falling object, E916

732

362,410

4,762

Excessive cold, E901

685

387,276

5,089

Water transport, E830-E838

675

393,013

5,164

Drowning during sport or recreation, E910.0-E910.2

645

411,293

5,405

Poisoning by gases and vapors, E867-E869

638

415,806

5,464

Railway, E800-E807

565

469,529

6,170

Electric current, E925

482

550,382

7,232

Drowning In bathtub, E910.4

330

803,891

10,564

Adverse effects of drugs in therapeutic use, E930-E949

253

1,048,553

13,779

Excessive heat, E900

249

1,065,398

14,000

Hunger, thirst, exposure and neglect, E904

224

1,184,304

15,562

Struck against or by objects or persons, E917

171

1,551,368

20,386

Explosive material, E923

130

2,040,646

26,815

Other injury caused by animals, E906

107

2,479,290

32,579

Hot substance or object, corrosive material and steam, E924

104

2,550,808

33,519

Cutting or piercing instruments or objects, E920

97

2,734,887

35,938

Cataclysmic storms, and floods resulting from storms, E908

93

2,852,516

37,484

Caught in or between objects, E918

71

3,736,394

49,098

Poisoning by and toxic reaction to venomous animals, plants, E905

68

3,901,235

51,265

Lightning, E907

63

4,210,857

55,333

Explosive gases, E923.2

49

5,413,959

71,143

Hornets, wasps and bees, E905.3

45

5,895,200

77,466

Cataclysmic earth surface movements and eruptions, E909

42

6,316,286

83,000

Dog bite, E906.0

23

11,534,087

151,565

Other natural and environmental factors, E902, E903

19

13,962,316

183,473

Venomous snakes, lizards, and spiders, E905.0, E905.1

13

20,406,462

268,153

Fireworks, E923.0

9

29,476,000

387,332

Source: National Safety Council's Website

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