Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Statistics about deaths caused by natural disasters

According to a study recently completed by researchers at the University of South Carolina (and the very pretty pie chart above), 0.4% of all deaths caused by natural disasters in the United States between 1970 and 2004 can be attributed to wildfires. That 0.4% translates to 84 deaths, which is a very low number. According to a study done by Dick Mangan for the Missoula Technology and Development Center, from 1990 to 2006, 310 people died during wildland fire operations.

Here is a map of standardized mortality ratios at the county level:

More information from Reuters:
"According to our results, the answer is heat," Susan Cutter and Kevin Borden of the University of South Carolina wrote in their report, which gathered data from 1970 to 2004.

"I think what most people would think, if you say what is the major cause of death and destruction, they would say hurricanes and earthquakes and flooding," Cutter said in a telephone interview. "They wouldn't say heat."

"What is noteworthy here is that over time, highly destructive, highly publicized, often-catastrophic singular events such as hurricanes and earthquakes are responsible for relatively few deaths when compared to the more frequent, less catastrophic such as heat waves and severe weather," they wrote.

The most dangerous places to live are much of the South, because of the heat risk, the hurricane coasts and the Great Plains states with their severe weather, Cutter said.

The south central United States is also a dangerous area, with floods and tornadoes.

California is relatively safe, they found.

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