Here's how often sharks kill people and how likely Americans are to die in an attack

Imagine being one of the paddle-boarders shown in a video released May 10 by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

It’s a clear, sunny day as you plod along on the water, when suddenly a police helicopter begins circling overhead. Within moments, a man’s voice booms through a loudspeaker.

“Attention in the water, attention in the water: This is the Orange County Sheriff’s department. Be advised state parks is asking us to make an announcement to let you know you are paddleboarding next to approximately 15 great white sharks,” the voice says. “They are advising that you exit the water in a calm manner.”

The helicopter then flies away, leaving you with this harrowing information.

Maintaining a “calm manner” would be next to impossible as you scramble to shore. However, a look at the statistical likelihood of dying from a shark bite should give you some solace. Sharks injure more people than they kill, but both events are extraordinarily rare — especially compared to other threats that people face.

In 2013, sharks killed only 10 people out of about 7 billion. In 2014, just three people lost their lives to the predators.

The numbers are getting lower each year as more sharks die as by-catch in fishing operations and get hunted for their dorsal fins.

Based on a previous analysis by Business Insider, here is how an American’s lifetime odds of death from a shark attack (in bold) compare to other threats we face, from least likely to most likely:

  • Illegal immigrant terrorist — 1 in 138 million
  • Shark attack — 1 in 8 million
  • Asteroid strike (regional impact) — 1 in 1.6 million
  • Stinging by hornets, wasps, and bees — 1 in 309,000
  • Lightning — 1 in 174,00
  • Bus, train, or streetcar — 1 in 160,000
  • Earthquake — 1 in 130,000
  • Dog attack — 1 in 115,000
  • Legal execution — 1 in 111,000
  • Asteroid strike (global impact) — 1 in 75,000
  • Cataclysmic storm — 1 in 63,700
  • Tornado — 1 in 60,000
  • Terrorism (foreign-born, all forms) — 1 in 45,800
  • Sharp objects — 0 1 in 30,900
  • Animal attack or accident — 1 in 30,200
  • Exposure to electricity, radiation, heat, and pressure — 1 in 14,700
  • Heat wave — 1 in 10,800
  • Aeroplane and spaceship incidents — 1 in 9,740
  • Police/law enforcement — 1 in 8,360
  • Accidental gunshot — 1 in 7,950
  • Bicycling — 1 in 4,340
  • Choking on food — 1 in 3,410
  • Any force of nature — 1 in 3,120
  • Assault by sharp object — 1 in 2,450
  • Fire or smoke — 1 in 1,450
  • Poisoning (liquid, gas, and solid) — 1 in 1,360
  • Drowning — 1 in 1,180
  • Motorcycle — 1 in 949
  • Walking — 1 in 672
  • Suffocation (choking, strangulation, blocked airway, etc.) — 1 in 608
  • Car, van, and truck incidents — 1 in 565
  • Assault by gun — 1 in 358
  • Murder — 1 in 249
  • Falling — 1 in 133
  • Any motor vehicle incident — 1 in 113
  • Suicide — 1 in 98
  • Kidney disease — 1 in 85
  • Influenza and pneumonia — 1 in 70
  • Diabetes — 1 in 53
  • Alzheimer’s disease — 1 in 47
  • Stroke — 1 in 31
  • Accidents — 1 in 31
  • Chronic lung disease — 1 in 27
  • Any injury — 1 in 21
  • Cancer — 1 in 7
  • Heart disease — 1 in 7

The data above primarily come from a 2016 report by the National Safety Council and the National Center for Health Statistics’ final 2013 report on causes of death in the US, which was released in February 2016 (and is the most current). However, it doesn’t factor in a person’s behaviours, age, sex, location, or other things that can affect risks — it’s an average of the US population.

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