Teddy bears: Stuffed bears are much more dangerous than grizzly bears. Eighty-two Americans were killed by bears between 1906 and 1995, while 140,000 injuries and at least 22 deaths a year are attributed to toys. Most of us know that buttons, eyes, bows and belts on stuffed animals are potential choking hazards, but it seems tripping over bears is the real danger.
That’s just one of the things Laura Lee describes in her book: “100 Most Dangerous Things in Everyday Life and What you Can Do About Them,” to poke fun at the culture of fear. Below are some some dangerous and deadly who-would-have-thoughts from Lee’s book.
Desk germs: Your office desktop is 400 times dirtier than a toilet seat. The average desk has 21,000 bacteria per square inch, or 8,400 per square centimeter, while the average toilet seat has only 50. That’s because we don’t clean our desks well, or at all, and we do scrub toilet seats. Or at least most of us do. Gross, yes. Dangerous, probably not. These bacteria don’t cause colds and flu.
Dishwashers: Each year, more than 7,000 Americans and 1,300 British citizens are harmed by their dishwashers. They reach in and grab an item and they’re cut or they open the door and are burned by steam and hot water. The worst include people who have slipped and fallen into an open dishwasher and impaled themselves with knives in the silverware rack.
High heels: According to the National Floor Safety Institute, which studies slip-and-fall accidents, about 2 million Americans are admitted to hospitals because of falls. Forty percent of those are caused by footwear, and of those about 400,000, are from falls attributed to high heels.
It isn’t just the fashion victim in stilettos who can be injured; bystanders are injured, too. A 120-pound woman wearing heels on a dance floor can pound her heel into someone else’s foot with the force of an elephant.
Holy water: In 1998, student researchers in Ireland found that holy water from local churches contained coliforms, staphylococcis, yeasts and molds. Another student study found green worms and worm eggs in font water. Some churches in Dublin also removed holy water fonts after they found drug addicts were using them to rinse out their syringes.
Knickknacks: Warning: That snow dome from Lake Tahoe can maim. An estimated 15,000 people are injured each year by knickknacks, vases and urns. The problem: You reach to dust it and everything comes crashing down on you. One person’s ”novelty item” spontaneously erupted when ”placed on the toilet tank for decorative purposes.” Lee’s suggestion: Get rid of it all and go minimalist.
Suburban living: If you think you’re safe in that gated community, think again. According to a University of Virginia study, you’re more at risk of being killed by an SUV than someone living in the city is at risk of being mugged in an alley. Plus, suburb dwellers are fatter than city dwellers (unless you’re part of the ladies’ lunch and tennis crowd). Anyway, a 2003 study in the American Journal of Public Health showed that people in large developments weigh an average of six pounds more than people in ”compact” communities.