Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Odds of Dying

"Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
- Benjamin Franklin, 1789
When we prioritize emergency planning there are two factors at odds with each other. One is the risk of death. The other is the disruption to our daily life, well being, belongings, etc. Too often we focus on the second because a burning house or massive flood is much flashier, more "news worthy" than one person dying.

Here are two excellent graphs on everyone's odds of dying with circles or squares drawn to scale.

Look at the size of Heart Disease, Cancer & Stroke before we reach the first "accident" type death, Motor Vehicle Accident. For emergency preparedness I have blogged about Floods, Earthquakes, and Lightning but notice how unlikely these are to kill someone.

Over the next few weeks I'll try to work in stories about the top Killers:
  • What to do for Heart Attack and Strokes?
  • Cancer Awareness - self examinations, protection from the sun and Tanning booths
  • Motor Vehicle Safety (seat belts, driving while texting or cell phone, driving while sleepy, hydropaning, inspecting your tires for wear, worn brakes, etc)
  • What to do when Poisoned (not much to say actually except call the poison hotline, different poisons require different responses)
  • Trips & Falls Hazards
Bottom Line

Keep in mind that preparedness has two roles. One is avoidance & prevention. The other is mitigation to lessen the impact or promote a more rapid recovery.

With Prevention we try to keep accidents from happening - removing fire and tripping hazards from the home, better diet & exercise, pruning that big tree limb next to the house, keeping your car's tires and brakes in good repair, etc.

With Mitigation we take action now to lessen the impact of a future disaster. This can include buying insurance, boarding the windows before a storm, backing up important computer files and legal paperwork, fire drills, having a family contact plan.

Both can be applied to death. We want to prevent accidents and avoid lifestyles that lead to early death with some of the actions described above. For death mitigation you need a Will and also Estate Planning. Have you purchased a grave site? Does your family have access to or even know about the banks and brokerages where your money is stored? Do you have life insurance?

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