Common Things You Didn’t Realize Can Kill You


Death in itself isn’t that surprising. After all, all of us have to go one way or another. From car accidents to peacefully passing in your sleep to foolishly challenging a stronger person to a duel to the death, there’s no dearth of potential ways one may pass away. The ways we die are as numerous and varied as there are people on Earth, making death a rather common and widespread phenomenon. 

It is surprising, however, when people end up dying to everyday things that we never thought could be fatally dangerous. Most of these common things that could potentially kill you seem harmless on first look, until you look up the science and statistics behind them.

8. Air Fresheners

Air fresheners are so common around the world that they can easily go unnoticed in most backgrounds. They’re quite widely used during certain times of the year, too, especially in the colder countries where people tend to stay inside during the winters. 

What we don’t know, though, is that air fresheners could be giving us cancer. Limonene, a chemical found in quite a few types of air fresheners, can react with the air to form formaldehyde, which has been known as a carcinogen since at least 2011. According to one study conducted on six households in York, the amount of formaldehyde in the air of an average house may just be high enough to be a concern. Thankfully – as the same researchers noted – it could also be almost completely absorbed by certain types of houseplants (if we could keep them alive for more than one day, that is). 

7. Boredom

Boredom affects many people around the world. In fact, we’d bet that a whole chunk of the human population is sitting at home with nothing to do at this very moment. It’s a big enough problem that we spend a large part of our lives trying to do things so as to not get bored, though not big enough to get the sciences involved. That is, of course, until you look up the numbers.

One study found that workers who reported being bored at work were around 2.5 times more likely to die of a heart attack in their later years than the others. For perspective, smoking raises the chances of developing a heart disease by about two to four times. It may sound surprising, but if you consider that when you’re bored, you’re also less likely to make productive life choices and stay healthy, it makes perfect sense. 

6. Doing Nothing

You’d think that doing absolutely nothing would drastically reduce your chances of dying a premature death. It stands to reason that if you’re doing absolutely nothing at all, you’re not doing anything that could kill you. If we look at the science, though, that assumption doesn’t hold up.

Apparently, lack of physical activity could be causing as many deaths worldwide as smoking and obesity. It considerably raises the chances of getting a wide range of diseases, like breast cancer, Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and coronary heart disease. That’s not it; if we could completely eradicate physical inactivity, the average life expectancy could be raised by 0.68 years. 

5. The Television

We have been around televisions long enough to make them safe to handle. Sure, the huge TV sets from a few decades ago could be a potential cause for injury, though we wouldn’t assume the same for the sleek and light televisions of today.

That assumption would be correct, except if you have a kid in the house. As per a study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, around 11,000 children under 18 were sent to the emergency room for injuries from television sets tipping over between 2011-2013, usually along with other heavy furniture. More surprisingly, from 2000 to 2013, 279 people lost their lives to their TV sets.

4. Going To The Loo

If we asked you to guess the most dangerous places in an average household in terms of deaths per year, you’d probably pick the garage, or even the kitchen. While it’s true that both of those places are responsible for their fair share of casualties, they’re not the most dangerous. 

If the numbers are anything to go by, the bathroom is actually the most dangerous place in the house, and there are multiple ways it could kill you, too. According to one study by the Scripps Howard News Service, one American dies from drowning in their bathtub almost every day. For older people, simply slipping and falling down could be fatal. If that’s not enough, quite a few people die because of hot water burns, too, making you wonder if just not going to the bathroom unless you really need to is the safest bet after all. 

3. Drinking Water

Water is – without any exaggeration – the biggest driving factor behind the evolution of life on Earth. Almost every type of organism we know of is water-based – including us – which would lead you to assume that consuming any amount of it would be safe… or at least not fatal.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case, as it turns that drinking too much water could lead to some serious health problems, too. Too much water can dissolve the electrolytes in the blood stream – especially sodium. Sodium helps keep the balance of the fluids inside and outside the cell. If depleted too much, it can allow external fluids to enter the cells, which can prove to be fatal in the case of brain cells. 

2. Scarves

Clothing items and accessories are probably the last group of things you’d expect to cause injury, let alone outright death. After all, there are stringent safety checks that ensure comfort and safety, and – unless you’re bent on it – there aren’t many ways that you could use them to cause injury. There’s, of course, just one exception: scarves.

Scarves are – by far – the most dangerous of all items of clothing, apparent by just how many people die due to their scarves getting entangled in the wrong place at the wrong time. Quite a few of you may have heard of Isadora Duncan, a dancer from Nice, France, as well as only one of the many victims of the deadly scarf. She died due to her scarf getting stuck between the wheels of her car while she was driving. Then there’s the woman from India who died pretty much the same way, except it was an elevator instead of a car. These aren’t isolated cases, either, as there are many other people that have ended up paying with their life for merely wanting to look a bit more fabulous that particular day. It makes sense, too, as scarves are usually long and flowy, making them more prone to getting stuck in things like heavy machinery, or even cars; something most of us use on a regular basis. 

1. Lilies

Houseplants are, without a doubt, one of the cheapest and most sustainable ways to do up your house. It adds a hint of life to an otherwise dead space, which our modern concrete buildings tend to be despite our best efforts. They’re also quite good at keeping the air purified and free of harmful chemicals like carcinogens, and all they need to do all that is just exist in the same space as you.

Of course, as you’d have probably guessed, there are some houseplants that can cause irreparable harm if ingested or touched, too, and some can even kill you. Case in point: lilies. Almost all of the common lily varieties found in an average household can cause irritation, rashes, stomach issues and other reactions if ingested. Both lily of the valley and gloriosa lily, for some examples, can cause serious symptoms like shortness of breath, numbness of the mouth, paralysis, and even death.

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