As a person with sometimes crippling anxiety and a brain full of otherwise useless knowledge, I have become a worst case scenario thinker. For example, last week I was explaining to a friend that I only wear 100% cotton when I get on an airplane. The rational being that if the plane crashed you wouldn’t want to be in synthetic fibers because something like polyester would actually melt from a fire and fuse to your skin making for a much worse recovery. Her response was something like “who cares what you are wearing, if the plane crashed you’d be dead”. My useless knowledge bank reported back that you actually have over a 90% chance of surviving a plane crash…I also noted that if I was ever in a plane crash with her I would have to drag her frozen in fear ass off the plane. In reality, one in every 1.2 million flights crash, with odds of dying one in 11 million. Your chances of dying in a car or traffic accident are one in 5,000. So, even if you have the bad luck of being on one of the one in 1.2 million flights that crash, you still have a 95.7% chance of surviving. This is the kind of information I have carry with me.
I once heard that in extreme moments our brain recalls memories that can be helpful…this is why you hear of people jumping into action and not thinking, simply just reacting. Seriously, think about someone who sees something like a burning car on the side of the road and stops to pull survivors to safety. If that person took a moment to think, the rational side of them would never walk towards fire/possible explosion to save another person that they don’t even know. Yet, as the approach the car it is likely a memory from a news story or movie that causes them to break the window when the handle doesn’t open the door. Something they remember also tells them to get away from the car with the survivor…seriously in every movie I’ve ever seen, the car on fire will explode.
This memory recall is probably why in spite of my anxiety, I am actually really calm and collected during actual emergency situations. I spent several years as an agoraphobic who couldn’t leave the house without a panic attack, but I have no doubt that if I saw a flaming car on the side of the road I would know exactly what to do. In case you were wondering, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says 33 car fires are reported every hour in the U.S., and 18 percent of all reported fires occur on a road or highway and involve a motor vehicle. Yeah, 33 every hour, wtf?!? Then again, there are over 200 million drivers in the US so maybe 33 per hour isn’t so bad.
All these statistics and wintery weather did have me wondering something…how many people die each year from icicles. Beautiful to look at, but basically they are just giant ice daggers waiting to fall and stab you through the eye. Mind you I live in Chicago, we get a lot of snow, and around once a year we hear about someone walking downtown who is hurt or killed by an icicle that falls from a skyscraper. So yes, I have a warped mind, but I also live somewhere this is a present danger. For example, In 1994 a man was killed by an icicle described as being “the size of a microwave”. In 2011, an off duty paramedic was hit and woman’s back windshield was shattered from icicles falling off Willis Tower. The stories go on and on…and not just in my city. If you google “people dying from icicle” the majority of stories are either Chicago or Russia. Apparently, in the US there are 15 related icicle deaths each year, and 100 in Russia. Though I should note that statistic kept popping up in my search as coming from the Death in Society Research Foundation…and while I think I am very qualified and totally want a job there, I can’t actually find an organization with that name online.
That said, it seems my thirst for useless knowledge continues…and now I’m wondering how many people die each year choking on a donut. I mean, I totally get eating too much fatty foods can cause heart disease (614,348 deaths per year in the US), diabetes (76,488), and kidney disease (48,146) but what about actually choking to death on a donut? I guess there are some questions I will never know the answer to…
*Side note: In previous posts when I gave a statistic or talked about some medical condition I would include a hyperlink but I blended it with the rest of the post so you would have to click the stat or name of the disease but I didn’t highlight it in any way. This time the links are noted with underlines and a different color. Which do you prefer? Comment below!