Way to Go

Probability of dying One thing is certain - we all are going to die. The only question left is "What is going to kill us?" Think of two or three causes of death. Then look for them in the graphic at left. If you find one, look at the chance of dying from that cause. If you don't see one you thought of, pick a favorite from the graphic.

What is the probability of dying from that cause? This web site will use drowning as an example. The graphic identifies the chance of dying from drowning as 1 in 1,008. This means that, when you die, there is one chance in 1,008 that you will die from drowning. What is the change of dying from the cause you picked?

1 in 51/50.220%
2 out of 72/70.2929%
1 in 10,0001/100000.000010.001%
Decimals and percent are rounded to 2 significant digits.
When we talk about probability, or the chance that an event will occur, we speak of the odds as '1 in 10', or '3 out of 5'. In both of these cases, we can write the odds as a fraction. Here are some odds and the fractions that go with them.

So, when talking about odds or chances, 'in' means divide, and 'out of' means divide too. If we can divide these numbers, then we can turn them into a decimal. What is the decimal for 1 out of 5 in the chart? To turn a decimal into a percent, we multiply it by 100 (percent means out of 100) and put a percent sign after it. What is the percent for a 2 in 7 chance?

Now, find the chance of dying of drowning and falling. If you die, which are you more likely to die of. Be careful here, many people get this wrong.

If you decided you are more likely to die of falling, you are right. The chance of dying from drowning is 1/1008 and the chance of dying from falling is 1/218. Are you saying to yourself, but 1008 is bigger than 218? Remember that, in a fraction, a larger denominator makes the fraction smaller. You can see this better by converting the fraction to a decimal. Use this calculator to turn both odds into a decimal. Just remember to push the clear button between fractions. Which seems larger now?