Deadly Florida

The following is an article from Uncle John's Bathroom Reader The World's Gone Crazy.

(Image credit: Flickr user Dave)

Good thing it’s pretty in the Sunshine State. At least the view will be nice as you try to outrun all of these dangerous things.

AFRAID OF LIGHTNING?

(Image credit: Flickr user NASA HQ PHOTO)

Then don’t go to Florida. A study conducted from 2004 to 2007 by the American Meteorological Society found that people are more likely to get struck by lightning in Florida than anywhere else in North America. The state averages 35 lightning injuries and seven fatalities per year, and “Lightning Alley,” a hot spot that spans central Florida from Tampa to Titusville, receives an average of 50 strikes per square mile per year. And right in the middle of Lightning Alley: Disney World. Even with lightning rods strategically placed throughout the park, a quick-moving storm in 2003 caught animal handlers by surprise at Disney’s Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction. Before they could move the animals to safety, a lightning bolt killed a 12-foot-tall giraffe named Betsy. Also located in Lightning Alley: Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Daytona Beach, and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where they launch spaceships.

AFRAID OF ALLIGATORS?

Then don’t go to Florida. Although the Florida Wildlife Department insists that alligator attacks are rare and seldom fatal, incidents are on the rise. Protected by law, the alligator population has grown from 300,000 in 1967 to nearly two million today. And more and more, those gators are colliding with humans encroaching on their natural habitat. Result: a drastic increase in fatal attacks (three people were killed by gators in one week alone in 2006). Because there are no plans to reinstitute alligator-hunting and few plans to curb development, we’re likely to see more deadly gator encounters in the years to come.

AFRAID OF SHARKS?

Then don’t go to Florida. Just a short drive from Disney World is New Smyrna Beach, the shark-bite capital of the world. According to the 2008 International Shark Attack File, 32 of the 59 unprovoked shark attacks worldwide occurred in Florida—and New Smyrna Beach accounted for 21 of them. Most attacks occur at Ponce de Leon Inlet, where two rivers meet before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. The confluence creates a smorgasbord for sharks looking for an easy meal: murky water from tidal flushing loaded with plenty of baitfish. The inlet also has some of the best and most consistent surf on the East Coast and, consequently, lots of surfers. In 2008, 57% of New Smyrna’s shark victims were attacked while surfing.

AFRAID OF CROSSING THE STREET?

Then don’t go to Florida. A 2008 study by Surface Transportation Policy Partnership found that four of the top five most dangerous U.S. cities for pedestrians are in Florida. The national average for pedestrian deaths is 11.8% of all traffic deaths, but Florida topped out at 16.9%. America’s most dangerous city for pedestrians: Orlando.

AFRAID OF RIDING A BICYCLE?

Then don’t go to Florida. It’s also the most dangerous U.S. state for cyclists, with 113 fatalities in 2008. (That’s more than the #2 state, California, which has nearly twice as many people.) Why so dangerous? A lack of adequate bicycle lanes is one reason, but most Floridians agree that many drivers there just don’t like bike riders. According to Scott Gross, manager of Open Road Bicycles in Avondale, Florida: “People are very nice to cyclists in other parts of the world, but around here they just want you off the road.”

AMUSED BY DUMB CROOKS?

Then, by all means, go to Florida. Though it ranks in the top 15 states for assault, burglary, robbery, homicide, and car theft, some of our favorite dumb-crook stories come from the Sunshine State. Like this one: In 2009 a man burst into a home in Riverview, Florida, forced the residents into a bathroom, and proceeded to steal prescription drugs, cash, and some electronics. Fortunately, the man was easy to identify. When the victims were called into the police station to look at suspect photos, they pointed at one and said, “That’s him!” How did they know? Because on the 19-year-old robber’s left cheek was a large tattoo of the state of Florida.

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The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Bathroom Reader The World's Gone Crazy.

Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!


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18 years in Florida and I had been about 20 yards from a lightning strike & multiple times had to clean up pole pig parts from aftermath of lightning strikes, used to regularly having alligators sunning in the backyard & watching them in waterways visible from the patio, and watched sharks being caught by fishermen at the same beach as people swimming. Although there are unlucky people to get hurt by those, I vaguely remember the statistics for provoked alligator & shark attacks being quite a bit higher than unprovoked, and many lightning deaths were avoidable if people heeded common safety advice. What actually scared me, even if mostly nonfatal, was stingrays, jellyfish, and bad drivers.
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To my knowledge there have been two strikes close to my house since we moved here in 2001. One hit my next door neighbor's tall tree, breaking off a portion of it. The other appeared to have hit an island garden next to my house. Shortly after a large Canary Island Date Palm died off, likely a victim of the strike.
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