Let’s face it, between Sharknado movies and Shark Week, there’s a lot of attention given to sharks. But how likely are you to actually experience a shark attack? Today, let’s get to the bottom of shark safety.
How Likely is a Shark Attack?
After all of the high profile stories shared on TV, many people are a bit more worried about the possibility of a shark attack than is probably necessary. The fact is, the risk of a shark attack is relatively small. In the United States, a person’s chance of being involved in a shark attack is one in 11.5 million. Even worse, what about the chances of actually dying from such an attack? Well, the odds are even lower there. It turns out that the odds of death by a shark are less than one in 264.1 million.
When it comes to legitimate fears, check out Florida Museum of Natural History’s webpage on the topic of shark attacks. This organization has a handy listing of other dangers that are far more likely to get you in trouble than sharks! For example, in Florida roughly 38 people die each year from lightning strikes… but less than one person dies from a shark bite.
Swim Smart to Avoid Sharks
So now that you’ve seen how unlikely a shark attack is, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful in the ocean. As in all situations, it pays to be educated and prepared. Just because a shark attack is unlikely, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to reduce your risks even further.
Here are some quick tips to avoid a potential attack:
- First, stay out of shark infested waters. This may seem obvious, but far too many people get into trouble by ignoring posted warnings. Only swim in dedicated areas with a lifeguard on duty. If someone spots a shark, it’s time to head for shore!
- Sharks are drawn to lone swimmers. There is safety in numbers, so always try to swim in groups.
- Stay close to the shore. Similarly, don’t swim out too far. Beyond dangerous rip tides, you don’t want to wander too far away from potential rescuers.
- Swim in the daylight. Sharks are more active in the darkness of night.
- Avoid getting blood in the water. Sharks have a keen sense of smell. If you enter the water while bleeding from an open wound, or even while menstruating, it can put you in significantly more danger.
- Don’t attract attention. In much the same way a shiny lure can attract fish, shiny jewelry can reflect light and draw a shark’s interest. Additionally, be careful when applying suntan lotion. Sharks love contrasting colors, so an uneven tan or a brightly colored bathing suit can quickly catch their eyes.
What to do if attacked
In the unlikely situation that you are attacked, fight back! A shark respects prey that show power and strength. Aim for the shark’s weak points, including its eyes, snout and gills. Scratch and punch. If at all possible, find a weapon. A shark attack is no time to be passive.
When it comes to a shark attack, your odds of becoming a victim are not very high, but it’s still crucial to play it smart. Above all, don’t take any unnecessary risks. Swimming safety relies on us all taking proper precautions to prevent danger.