Tuesday, September 21, 2010

10 Ways I Have Seen People Die (And How You Can Prevent These Things from Happening to You)

There are numerous ways to die. I even had a relative who was killed by a parade float of all things. However, there are quite a few common ways to die which are really unnecessary with just a bit of common sense and/or knowledge.
  1. Don't drive drunk and/or ride with a drunk driver. There have been too many of these wrecks to count and I am always shocked when people say they knew the driver was drunk but thought they would make it home OK anyway. More often than not, the drunk driver walks away and the person in the car/the person they hit dies.
  2. Drowning in lakes or rivers. In our area, rivers are swift and cold and there's lots of stuff under water to get tangled up in. There have also been numerous drownings in the cold lakes in our area. People can't "out swim" hypothermia and when your body gets cold, all of the blood leaves your extremities in order to flow to your vital organs leaving you unable to move, swim, or call for help. Swim only in safe areas...like in a pool.
  3. Heart attacks are quite common as people age. Seeing a 40 year old die of a heart attack is another story. Your heart will keep working if you exercise and eat right consistently. Having an AED on hand it also useful in this situation.
  4. Kids driving badly. I had my driver's license the day I turned 16 and thought I was invincible. Now that I have witnessed--again too many to count--accidents that involve teenage drivers, I have changed my mind, both about teenage invincibility and the advisability of 16 year olds driving. Intermediate driver licensing laws is a good start but overall, I don't think kids should drive until they are 18 or older, simply based on scientific evidence of teenage brain development (or the lack thereof).
  5. Sprinting into a violent or potentially violent situation. It is a common reaction--you see someone stealing your car or see someone getting in a fight and your first response is to jump in and either retrieve your car or help the person in a fight. This can lead to death. Some things aren't worth risking your life for (your car, your property) and other things need a bit of perspective before you act (like does the attacker have a firearm). Consider then react.
  6. Texting/chatting on the cell phone while driving. One of the most horrific accidents I have seen (not on scene but in a review complete with gory photos of extricating body parts out of a pile of steel that was crushed like an accordion) was the Metrolink commuter train wreck that killed 25 people just because the engineer was texting and not paying attention while he was driving the train. This also happens daily on our roads and freeways. People simply can't read their text messages and update their FaceBook profile when their eyes should be on the road ahead.
  7. Babies killed at home. Babies are killed with surprising regularity by depressed moms, irresponsible/violent step dads or boyfriends, rolling over on them when they are sleeping with their parents, etc. Parents should be much more concerned about the environment that they live in than the very minuscule possibility of stranger abduction.
  8. You may be surprised by the suicide statistics in your area. I know that when I tell people that suicide is a leading cause of death in our area they are always surprised. It's one of those things that people don't like to talk about but it doesn't erase the fact that a lot of people are killing themselves. Call 1-800-273 TALK if you or someone you know is suicidal.
  9. Falls are a problem of the old in general. And, as the population ages, falls are rapidly moving up the scale as a leading cause of death. Sounds boring but if you can keep grandma from falling with some useful prevention measures or keep yourself from falling off the roof when putting up Christmas lights, you will be ahead of the pack, statistically speaking.
  10. Poisonings are also rather boring--meaning they don't usually make the evening news--but it is another very common way to die. Whether because some genius thought it was a good idea to vent his generator into his home (death by carbon monoxide poisoning) or because someone overdosed on their meds, and everything in between (food poisoning, eating poison mushrooms, experimenting with drugs), a little knowledge and forethought can prevent this tragic way of dying.


  1. I don't know who said this (I'm thinking of Gavin De Becker's Gift of Fear book), but I recall hearing it said that we keep ourselves up at night worrying over hazards that are sensational, but statistically not very likely to hurt or kill you (plane crashes, terrorist attacks, nuclear accidents, etc.); yet we are blase about hazards that are the most likely things to do us in (car accidents from unsafe driving, heart disease and diabetes from poor eating habits and lack of exercise, etc.)

  2. Big heads up on #9 for people of all ages! It's not just the fall, it's the shock or blood loss from lying at the bottom of the stairs for three days, until someone finds you. It's the heart attack or stroke you get post-op, from the surgery to fix the injuries. It's the real possibility you will be permanently disabled, especially if you are elderly, because you don't have the strength to do re-hab, and get back on your feet. It's the possibility that even if you recover well, it could debilitate you later in life, degenerating disks, joint replacements, and one of the documented triggers for Parkinsons is traumatic head/neck injuries. Be careful out there!!

  3. nfortunately we can never be prepared for everything. As a teenager me and my friends did a lot of stupidly dangerous stuff and never got hurt and then one day on the way to school a driver crossed the line and hit my friend head on killing him. All the survival preps in the world would not of helped and he never had enough time to react.

  4. Congress needs to require everyone to wear a helmet while in the house. (especially the bathroom, as most accidents happen there.)

  5. China--yep, he was running from one side of the street to the other and tried to jump between the truck that was pulling the float and the float itself and got dragged under the float somehow.
    Greg--you're right. I knew a guy who was sitting on his couch working on his computer when a construction crane fell onto his apartment and killed him while I know quite a few people who have been shot multiple times and lived. Life is quite random. Go figure...
    Anon x3--Most likely the majority of us will die by something that will be rather average and boring--heart attacks, falls, prescription med overdose, etc. Meanwhile people put an inordinate amount of worry into the (statistically small) possibility of their plane crashing, their children getting kidnapped, or a global nuclear event.

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