Travel Tips

Death Map Plots Where Mother Nature Likeliest to Kill You

Locations in this article:  Columbia, SC

Stormy Sunset WeatherWe’re all going to die someday, but there are certain places you may want to avoid during your travels if you want to extend your life expectancy, according to a new ‘death map.’

Researchers from the University of South Carolina, Columbia analyzed mortality data from the last 40 years and determined where in the country you were more prone to die from extreme heat, freezing cold, hurricanes, storms, and other natural phenomena.

So what did their findings reveal?

In general, those who live in the South and along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are most likely to perish from such events, especially when compared with those in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions.

Surprisingly, the researchers found that of the 20,000 people who died during the study period, most succumbed to everyday hazards such as drought and intense summer heat, not from headline-grabbing disasters such as tornadoes and earthquakes.

Heat, drought, flooding, and severe summer and winter weather led to 70 percent of all deaths nationwide, while earthquakes, tornadoes, lightning, wildfires, hurricanes, and coastal factors led to the other 30 percent.

For more tips on staying safe on your travels, don’t miss our Travel Safety & Security section.

You may want to avoid the northern Great Plains region in summer, since it is particularly prone to heat and drought during that time, whereas freezing weather and floods make the Rocky Mountains a don’t-go-there location in winter. Other places to watch out for include the south-central United States, where tornadoes and floods are a problem during certain seasons.

You’ll be safest in the upper Midwest and urban areas of the Northeast and California— despite the threat of earthquakes.

The researchers have created a multi-color map of America on which they have plotted the hazards using regional statistical data. They hope that it can be used by emergency management authorities for research purposes, or by the government to help them better allocate resources.

And now….the Death Map! (red means you’re more likely to die, blue means less likely, while white is average risk)

Death Map

Related Links: MSNBC, Discover magazine

By Karen Elowitt for

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Learn more about Peter’s latest book, which tackles the subject: Don’t Go There.