The real risk from terrorism

Dr Messieh  Burnie TMA 

After the brutal attack on Brussells on the 22nd March 2016, and Paris in November 15, it is helpful to put the risks of these attacks into perspective. The risk of dying from a terror attack is still very small.

It’s estimated that the risk of dying in a terror attack is in the vicinity of  1 in 20 million. To put that into context:

  • Chances of dying from a shark attack 1 in 11.5 million
  • Being killed by a dog 1 in 18 million
  • 1 in 24 women over the age of 40 will die from a sudden heart attack, while 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women will die from cancer.

A person is as likely to be killed by his or her own furniture, and more likely to die in a car accident, drown in a bathtub, or in a building fire than from a terrorist attack.

The chances a person will be killed by an asteroid are 1 in 200,000, which is much higher than the odds of being killed by hail, which is 1 in 734,400,000.

Each year 1 out of 100,000 people die in a skydiving accident, which is 17 times lower than the risk of dying in a car accident.

11 out of every 100,000 women in the United States will die after giving birth, which is ranked ahead of 40 other countries in maternal mortality. Obesity and the prevalence of C-sections have contributed to the increase in maternal mortality rates.

The odds of dying in a severe storm are 1 in 68,388. A person is more likely to die slipping in his or her bathtub, which occurs at a rate of 1 in 11,469.

A person’s chances of dying in an elevator are 1 in 10,440,000. Due to successful elevator brake systems, an elevator has plunged only once – in the Empire State Building in 1945.

The lifetime probability of dying in a car accident is 1 in 100, which is 200 times higher than the probability of dying in a plane crash.

While 1 out of 5 people fear the possibility of being murdered, the odds that a person will be murdered in any given year are about 1 in 18,690. According to the FBI, violent crime is now at a near-historic low.

The chance of being killed by a bear while visiting Yellowstone National Park is 1 in 2.1 million. As a park visitor, a person is more likely to die from drowning or burns sustained from falling into a thermal pool.

Much more likely are the risks of disruption of your travel plans eg all flights and public transport in Brussels at the moment. Other likely problems for travellers are delays caused by increased security. or even capricious changes to rules about what one can and cannot take as carryon luggage.  (After 911, I was in the US and they took my safety razor off me but obligingly offered to let me keep the handle. My argument that this was a safety razor and other than a shaving nick was not hazardous, this was not warmly received.

References and more statistics:  here  here, here, here and here

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