The Real Fear Focus: Factor
If you read
the headlines and watch the news, you might begin to think that every other
person in this country is getting attacked by sharks, mauled by bears, made sick
by mosquitoes, dying in hurricanes and crashing in small planes. It can make the
world seem like a dangerous place.
If you or a
family member are starting to feel as though it’s safest to stick to your
routine and not to stray far from home, it’s time to get some perspective.
Remember these important facts
bear attacks and other catastrophic events get into the news headlines because
they’re rare. If they happened all the time, they wouldn’t make the
news. Think about it for a minute. How many people do you know who have been
attacked by sharks? Or –do you even know any people who know someone who’s been
attacked by sharks? Do you ever hear of anybody who knows anybody who’s been
attacked by a shark. Probably not.
→ Your chance of dying in a
shark attack is one in 3,700,000.
Your chance of dying in a bear
attack is one in 410,000.
Your chance of dying of heart
disease is one in 4.
Your chance of dying of cancer
is one in 11.
usually relate to the shark and bear stories because they’re about one or two
people, rather than a crowd. It seems like the bigger the numbers, the harder it
is to empathize. That story about a shark gnawing on a teenager’s ankle is easy
to imagine. We can create an image in our minds pretty easily, and then our
imaginations begin to run wild.
Some summer season statistics
phenomenon that can get blown out of proportion in the media is the weather.
Here’s an interesting question. What’s more life-threatening—tornadoes,
hurricanes or lightning strikes?
to the National Weather Service, during a 30-year period from 1971 to 2000,
- Tornadoes caused
an average of 68 deaths per year
averaged 16 deaths per year
averaged 73 deaths per year
are, you guessed that tornadoes or hurricanes were more likely to cause death.
And it’s likely that you thought that because they make the headlines more
often, and they cause their damage in greater numbers at one time.
another interesting fact: even though the number of lightning deaths is higher
than deaths caused by tornadoes or hurricanes, the odds of being killed or
injured by lightning are still very low—1 in 700,000 each year.
→ Your lifetime chance of dying due to a lightning
strike is 1 in 39,000.
What about airplanes crashes?
single day, thousands and thousands of planes take off and land safely all over
the world. If you’ve ever had a long layover in a busy airport, you start to
realize how matter-of-fact air travel is. There’s a constant drone on the
intercom about the next plane taking off, the next plane landing. This goes on
all day, every day, all over the world.
Your chance of dying in a
plane crash is 1 in 40,000.
Should you be worrying about
might not be the right word, but there are lots of things you can do to increase
the chances that you’ll live a healthy life.
► Don’t smoke. There
are 400,000 smoking-related deaths in the U.S. each year. That’s a lot more than
shark and bear attacks for sure.
► Protect yourself from heart
disease and cancer: Your chances of dying of heart disease are 1 in 4, but you
don’t see many people afraid to
order a hefty serving of French fries. Eat well, exercise regularly and get
the health screenings that are appropriate for your age and gender.
► Minimize your chance
of getting into or causing a car accident. Each year, 40,000 people in
die in car accidents. Your chance of dying in a car accident is 1 in 88. Stay
focused when you drive. Stay off the phone, don’t apply makeup, limit the number
of passengers in your car, especially if you’re a teenager. Of course, don’t
drink and drive.
► Prepare, cook and
store your food properly. About 5,000 Americans die each year after eating
under-cooked or mishandled food. (Read more about handling food safely here.)
Your strategy? Live mindfully
live your life in fear of things that will probably never happen, but doesn’t it
make more sense to try to take some control over the things that are
under your control?
adage is full of truth: you have nothing to fear but fear itself. Instead of
living in fear, live mindfully. What does that mean? Always try to do the next
right thing. Listen to your instincts. If there’s a voice inside saying, “Oh,
what the heck, I’ll do it just this once and it won’t matter,” maybe you should
risks in the car or with your health. Learn to swim, and make sure your kids
know how as well. Keep your kitchen clean, and put food away as soon as dinner’s
goodness sake, enjoy the experiences life has to offer. Take a trip, board that
plane, go camping in the woods. Just follow the safety precautions, and leave
the rest to chance.
The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics; The Home Safety Council; The
National, 25 March 2005; National Center for Injury Prevention and Control;