I got into a 'discussion' with the vice principal of the school I work at. He was worried about the dangers inherent in our fairly extensive outdoor program.
I pointed out to him that an analysis of the previous year's infirmary logbook showed that we had far more lost school days from basketball than we did from snowshoeing despite that the entire school snowshoes, and only about 1/3 have anything to do with basketball.
And there I got stuck.
(Edit in response to comment: My VP considers the outdoor program far more lethal -- chance of dying. So comparing injuries in the infirmary log struck him as specious. Yet this is not borne out. Kids die playing hockey and football. Not many. Kids die in avalanches in school outings. Not many. I'd like to get a handle on the relative risks.)
(Edit 2: Charlie, below has some interesting articles, and some of these are similar to the ones I found in my groveling. The problem is that few take into account the number of practicianers. One article comments that falls are the leading cause of ER room outdoor pursuits treatments. And if you dig further you find that more hikers were injured or killed than mountaineers. But there are a lot more hikers, so if there was equal hazard you would expect more incidents. )
I found tantalizing tidbits:
- For the young teen male, there is about 1 fatality per 5 million downhill ski days.
- The most dangerous sport is high school foot ball: Much more dangerous than either college or pro ball. (This made sense to me: High school kids are growing, clumsy; high school coaches aren't as well trained, fewer assistants.) Hockey came close.
- I found a lightning strike density map for Alberta. The highest density strike zone runs 4 strikes/km2/year
Anyway: Some insurance company I'm sure has collected these stats:
Someone has written a report on the relative risks of various outdoor pursuits:
E.g: In absolute numbers more people die in climbing accidents than are killed by lightning in the mountains. But overall there are a lot more hiking days than there are climbing days.
How many people drown per million canoeing days?
What are your chances of coming to a sticky end cross country skiing?
Avalanche deaths per million days back country skiing?
For each individual activity there are mitigations: E.g. Don't be on ridge tops during lighting storms. Take an avalanche safety course, carry the radio thingies, and practice using them. Learn how to right your sailboat. Know the signs and treatment for incipient hypothermia.
OTOH What is the relative risk between the pass and the peak on either side for lightning? In another question and the reading it caused me to do, it isn't safe to cross a pass. Certainly more dangerous than crossing the street, but compare to crossing the Bakersfield freeway (8 lanes each way) How risky is it?
But I figure that insurance companies that underwrite various flavours of adventure companies have some more concrete numbers than this. What do they use?
Does anyone know of either a stats heavy report on various outdoor pursuits, or a more general book on risk management in the outdoors?