NEW YORK – Nothing makes splashier headlines in the summer than a shark attack. But with each report comes the inevitable mention that the likelihood of getting killed by a shark is far less than by a bee sting, lightning or falling coconuts.
Last year, despite a series of high-profile attacks, the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File (ISAF) recorded only 76 unprovoked shark attacks worldwide — and only five were fatal.
Other beach-related injuries such as spinal damage, dehydration, jellyfish and stingray stings and sunburn are more common than shark attacks. And many more sutures are expended on sea shell lacerations of the feet than on shark bites, according to the ISAF.
In fact, according to National Safety Council estimates, sharks should be low on your list of worries.
Here is a list of some of the top odd causes of death in 1998, the last year for which data is available:
— Dog bites: 15 fatalities
— Fireworks: 13 fatalities
— Hornets, wasps and bees: 46 fatalities
— Lightning: 63 fatalities
— Falling earth: 55 fatalities
— Falling objects: 723 fatalities
— Falling into a hole or other openings: 95 fatalities
— And 337 people died in bathtubs.
And to drive the point home, literally, the ISAF reports that home-improvement injuries hurt more people than sharks. Data from 1996 reveal shark injuries and deaths totaled only 18 for the year while 43,687 people were injured by their toilets.