Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Mountain Males Most at Risk For Death by Lightning

Lightning kills more than twice as many per-capita in Wyoming than any other state. In fact, at a micromort of 2.02, or 2.02 deaths per million, Wyoming is more dangerous than the next three highest ranking states, Utah (.7), Colorado(.65) and Florida (.56). Florida leads the nation in total deaths with 126 in the period from 1990 to 2003, but trials the others on a per-capita basis. Utah has had only two deaths in the same period, the last in 2007, but its small population places it second in per-capita mortality.

What most intrigued me about my recent introduction to lightning mortality was its severe gender bias. Guys are much more likely to feel that tingle, or at least to die from it. In 2009, 28 of the 34 deaths in the US were male, or 82%. In 2008 it was 79% males (22/28)and in 2007 it was 89% (40/45)in a bad year for lightning deaths.

When you ask people why guys are biting the electrical bullet so much more often than females, the usual response falls into two categories, occupation and recreation. Most people perceive men to be more likely to be outside by these two causes. The data I give doesn't tell me what the occupations were, but few of the deaths were fishermen or golfers. This year, one postal worker was killed, but it was a female, and a crabber in Texas (male) was also killed; but then so was a prisoner walking across a prison yard... ("an abrupt change of sentence"). In fact, the most common activity was ...wait for it...."standing under a tree". The most unusual death this year so far, at least to me, was also the oldest; a seventy year old male climbed to a hilltop in a thunderstorm "to get better cell phone reception." "Hello, this is the afterlife calling."
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