Maybe you stay inside at the first sound of thunder or fearfully avoid all metal structures during a rainstorm. But being struck by lightning is a rare occurrence; the odds of it occurring are 1 in 835,500. There’s a host of other things that are more likely happen to you in your lifetime, as the following examples illustrate.
Dying from a Fall out of Bed. Given the choice between a four-foot fall from a box spring or a four-million-volt jolt, it’s safe to say most people would choose the fall. But the odds that a person will die from a fall out of bed in a year are twice as high (1 in 478,300 ) as the odds of being struck by lightning in a year—just being struck, mind you; dying from lightning is even rarer.
Being Dealt a Royal Flush. Or for that matter, any other poker hand. Receiving even the rarest of hands, a royal flush, is still likelier than the skies scoring a direct hit on you in a year. The odds of being dealt a royal flush are 1 in 649,740.
Death from Noise Exposure. The odds of that are 1 in 732,200. How in the world, you may ask, does one drop dead from “noise exposure”? There are all sorts of ways, really. At 160 decibels, your eardrums burst—that’s about one thousand times louder than a jet engine heard from ten feet away—so believe it: sound can hurt, or kill. The few deaths reported from noise exposure in a year typically come from either sudden, extremely loud blasts (in effect, explosive blast waves) or from prolonged exposure to very loud sounds. And as you might expect, sometimes the sound indirectly kills, i.e. it causes a heart attack. It’s bizarre, but likelier than being struck by lightning—although presumably the loud report from a near-miss lightning bolt could be that loud sound that kills you.
Being a KKK Member. Its name a bastardization of the Greek for “circle,” kyklos (the sound of which would, in theory, lend the organization some dignity), the Ku Klux Klan is still around although much depleted. Still, the odds a person is a member of the Ku Klux Klan are much higher than a lightning strike: roughly 1 in 61,000.
Dying in Part from Constipation. The odds a person will die with chronic constipation as a contributing cause in a year are 1 in 452,200. ’Nuff said.
Being Born and Dying on the Same Date. The odds a human will be born and will die on the same day of the year are quite low—not as low the lightning thing, but low. The odds of being born on a given day are 1 in 364.25 (the 0.25 is for Leap Day), as are the odds of dying on a given day. The odds of the two coinciding, then, are roughly 1 in 133,000. It happened to actress Ingrid Bergman and Renaissance painter Raphael. Shakespeare is often said to have died on his birthday, but in fact, no one knows the Bard’s exact date of birth.
Note: 1 in 133,000 is a rough-hewn estimate, mainly for fun. Getting at the exact odds would be a much more complex process, taking into account all the chaos and imbalanced distributions of real life, e.g. that you are likelier to die in some months than in others . Also note: these are the theoretical odds that a human will be born and die on the same calendar day. For a living human like yourself, the practical odds of dying on your birthday are roughly 1 in 365.25 (again, ignoring the lumpy distribution of death-months); this is because you have been born already, which solidified your odds of being born on a given day to 1 in 1.
Originally published on Book of Odds