How Most People Die in the Outdoors

There’s no shortage of ways to die in the wild. Indeed, the very possibility that we might not make it home alive adds to the thrill of our pursuits. Here’s a look at some hard data on the ways people die in the outdoors.

Percentage of drownings that occurred in natural water from 1999 to 2010, the most of any location, including swimming pools and bathtubs.

Percentage of yearly unintentional fatalities that involve firearms. From 1999 to 2009, unintentional firearm-related fatalities declined by 33 percent.


Number of people killed by a wild black bear in North America since 1900.



Number of people bitten by a venomous snake in the U.S. each year.

Percentage of the world’s roughly 3,000 snake species that are venomous.

Number of people in the U.S. who die from a venomous snakebite annually.



Average number of lightning fatalities in the U.S. per year from 1984 to 2013. A record low of 23 occurred in 2013. Among the 261 people killed by lightning between 2006 and 2013, fishermen accounted for more than three times as many as golfers. Camping and boating each had almost twice as many deaths as golf.

1 in 12,000
The odds of being struck by lightning in a lifetime.

1 in 3
Number of treestand hunters who will fall at some point in their hunting career.

75 Percent
Treestand falls that occur while climbing up or down the tree

Yearly cost of search-and-rescue ­operations by the U.S. National Park Service.

Total number of deaths in the U.S. from 1999 to 2011—an average of 1,301 per year—that were associated with exposure to excessive natural cold.

95° F
Lowest temperature that the human body can decrease to before hypothermia begins.

56.7° F
Body temperature of Swede Anna Bågenholm, who survived after being trapped under a layer of ice for 80 minutes in 1999.


3 days
Amount of time a human body can last without water before succumbing to dehydration.



Average number of human deaths per year in the U.S. from 1995 to 2004 resulting from animal-vehicle collisions.


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