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There are accidental ways to meet your end in the great outdoors. These are five of the most unpleasant, ignominious, and terrifying ways to go.


The radiation from cellphones might cause cancer.

Like microwaves, cellphones give off nonionizing radiation—the safe kind. Although it doesn’t have the protective metal mesh that keeps microwaves from escaping, your phone gives off less than 1 watt of energy compared to 2,000 to 3,000 with a microwave.


Moisture will transfer the current from the plug to you.

Each year, an estimated 500 to 1,000 deaths are caused by electrical injuries. Since most water contains impurities and conducts electricity extremely well, and electric currents tend to flow where there is the least resistance, they will usually go through that water—and into you—if the opportunity presents itself. Plus, wet skin has a lower resistance than dry skin. You could get a fatal shock to your heart.


Bullets do irreparable damage to your insides.

If a major organ or blood vessel is hit, you better hope your will is up to date. A 1998 study found that less than 10 percent of people shot in the heart will survive. Only 5 percent of the approximately 20,000 people shot in the head each year live. Bullet wounds to most of the rest of your body—80 percent of it—are typically nonfatal.


Your arms fly outward as if to grab something, but there is nothing to grab. You’ve been free-soloing—climbing without a rope or a partner to catch your fall. What were you thinking? You might ask yourself that, but it’s too late. Gravity accelerates your body. You plummet 30 feet—the equivalent of a three-story building—in 1.4 seconds, the time it takes to say, “How are you this morning?”

Crack! Your right leg strikes a projection from the wall and you tumble another 20 feet before landing on a granite ledge. The valley is still a hundred feet below.

You try to breathe, but the force of the fall has compressed your diaphragm, pushing the air out of your lungs. You manage a short spasmodic gasp, then another. A wave of nausea wells up from your gut and you vomit your breakfast in a long arc over the ledge. Your body instinctively knows that it must rally its defenses after such a severe blow. Digesting food would sap too much energy.


Call it a copout, but there’s something to be said for the utter misery of dying in a plane crash. Like a lot of our Worst Ways to Die, it’s not necessarily the death part that’s going to be so awful. It’s the utter inevitability that accompanies the long moments before it all ends.

Let’s just get the awful facts straight, so you know what you’re dealing with when the plane starts to go down. First of all, you’re probably about 6 miles (31,680 feet or 9,656 meters) in the sky. If you’re in a real free fall, hypoxia might set in and you’ll be unconscious for roughly the first mile of the fall because of lack of oxygen.

But then you’ll wake up — hooray? — to discover you’re still plunging 120 miles per hour (193 kilometers per hour), and still have a full two or three minutes to go from about a 30,000 foot cruising altitude to the very hard and unforgiving ground.

Maybe the worst part of a plane crash is that it’s a common fear, as well. Let’s be honest; the worst way to die is a deeply personal choice. If you fear air travel, your imagination soars about sputtering engines, clipped wings and the like. If you fear snakes. … well, read on.

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