This post on taking the terror out of terrorism got bumped from an online magazine when the Malaysian passenger plane was shot down killing all 298 aboard. Most of us are much safer than the media and government would have us to believe.
Remember Homeland Security’s color-coded terrorist threat levels? Red: Severe Risk of Terrorist Attacks (Panic!), Orange: High Risk of Terrorist Attacks (Paranoia), Yellow: Significant Risk of Terrorist Attacks (Anxiety), Blue: General Risk of Terrorist Attacks (Nervousness) and Green: Low Risk of Terrorist Attacks (Apathy).
Well, apparently—to use the old color-code system—the U.S. is somewhere between high Yellow (Very Anxious) and low Orange (Mild Paranoia) as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is now requiring that most airlines with direct international flights coming into the United States check all electronic devices for hidden explosives. While I do appreciate the increased “vigilance” of the government, let’s put the whole thing in perspective with a color code for life in general.
Green: Low Risk
Dr. Arnold Barnett, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has done extensive research to show the odds of being killed in a plane crash are one in 7,000,000! For airline fatalities to equal auto fatalities, a sold-out 727 jet would have to crash every day of the week, with no survivors, to equal the 46,000 highway deaths per year in the United States! So, the good news, flying on a commercial airliner is definitely green!
However, driving to the airport is life-threatening!
Blue: General Risk
And, before you even get in your car and head to the airport, you have to survive your own home. Every 19 minutes a person is killed at home, with two-thirds of those being fatally injured in the bathroom! That’s 28,200 fatalities each year. So, your very own bathroom: Blue!
Once on the plane, fear the sneezing passengers more than a suicidal terrorists. Planes are enclosed Petri dishes of deadly diseases. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study reveals the average number of deaths caused by the flu virus increased from 20,000 in the 1970s to 70,000 in recent years. Forget terrorists. Avoid anyone with the sniffles. Flu is Blue!
Yellow: Elevated Risk
As noted earlier, automobiles take an average of 46,000 lives per year. So Toyotas are nearly twice as dangerous as toilets. Driving your car: Yellow! And driving or riding without a seatbelt is just plain Red!
Orange: High Risk
A 1999 report charged that 98,000 hospitalized patients died each year in the Unites States due to “medical errors.” That’s equal to over 900 airline crashes, so your local hospital: Orange!
Red: Severe Risk
The CDC reports that each year more than 400,000 Americans die from cigarette smoking. (That’s 133 World Trade Center attacks every year)! Smoking: Red!
Also, on September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 innocent lives were snuffed out. The very next day, that same number were killed. And the day following that. That’s the number of unborn babies aborted every day in America. That’s over a million deaths per year, so a mother’s womb: Red!
Using these statistics, in general, risk of death in the U.S. of A is still solidly Green—despite the government and media warnings about terrorists with exploding underpants, ink cartridges and now mobile devices. (So, if your children are concerned about terrorists, assure them, “Billy in daycare more likely to kill you with the flu than Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi with an exploding iPad.” Okay, maybe not a good idea.)
How ‘bout simply assuring your children—and yourself—that life can be dangerous (hot stoves, electrical outlets and poisons)? But if you take reasonable precautions (don’t chew on electrical cords, do wear your seatbelt, and don’t smoke) you can be solidly Green!.
So, in review, let’s put the annual average number of deaths in terms of plane loads of victims. (Statistics from United States National Center for Health Statistics)
Tobacco-related deaths: 3,774 plane loads
Traffic fatalities: 434 plane loads
Deaths by firearms: 306 plane loads
Accidental falls: 132 plane loads
Drug and medicine fatalities: 75 plane loads
Medical procedure fatalities: 26 plane loads
Railroad fatalities: 6 plane loads
Electrical fatalities: 5 plane loads
Do pray for the safety of those exposed to Red terrorist violence in Syria, Iraq and other international hot spots on a daily basis. Pray that Home Land Security and the Transportation Security Administration keep one step ahead of terrorist technology.
And do be very careful in the bathroom!
Copyright © 2003, 2014 James N. Watkins
What terrifies you? Comment below.