Whenever someone posts anything dramatic on face book, I am instantly skeptical and have to check about three websites before I will believe it or even think about sharing it! Google people. It is your friend! Statistics bring amazing perspective.
Living in Florida, I have seen two headlines hitting my newsfeed over and over.
Flesh eating bacteria in the water
If I am going to be honest with you I have to admit that my first reactions were a typical knee-jerk response.
FLESH EATING BACTERIA AT THE BEACH??? BUT I WAS SUPPOSED TO GO TO THE BEACH TOMORROW!!! NOW WHAT???
Then I remembered this one small fact. Please, if you take anything away from this blog, remember this. We live in the most sensational country ever. People actually NEED you to click on their article to make money. Therefore, (here comes your “takeaway”)
***The headline of an article is rarely 100% true.****
In other words, it is likely 99% misleading.
The blog post that reads “10 reasons why I don’t homeschool,” is written by a homeschooling mom who is going to tell you a bunch of reasons that aren’t the reasons why she homeschools, and then she will tell you why she does.
“Israel Violates Ceasefire” is the title of an article that will likely mention that Hamas had actually never even observed the ceasefire to begin with, so technically there was no ceasefire for Israel to violate.
“These boys start singing and Simon Cowell does the unthinkable!” Wow! What does he do?? I can’t even think of what he could do that is unthinkable!! Wait….. he puts them to through to the next round. Yeah, I could have thought of that.
My points are these:
1. Never believe a headline.
2. Pay attention to the details.
Which leads me to the sensational (but 100% true) title of this blog post.
What is *more dangerous* than going in water where you could contract a flesh-eating bacteria at the beach?
Wait for it…….
Driving to the beach.
Yes. Let’s look at the numbers that prompted the headline…
“Florida Officials: Watch out for flesh-eating bacteria” from Florida Today:
Wow, I have to watch out for it? Ok. It must be everywhere!
Of course I had to google to find out how many people had actually died from this ailment in Florida over the course of a year. The answer? 11.
Now, please understand this. I believe that every one of those lives is important, and I am not diminishing their value. My question is merely this, do the headlines and fear mongering match the likelihood that it will actually happen to you. And furthermore, are their suggestions for avoiding this disease practical?
Ok, so how do you avoid flesh eating bacteria?
Their solution is ridiculous. Don’t go into the water during the summer with a scrape or open wound or if you have a low immunity. Like, the whole summer? Any scrape? What if I don’t know I have one? Full body scans for all of my 5 children before letting them in the water??
Because…11 people…in the whole state…. over the course of a year?
Let’s contrast that now with the number of fatalities that have occurred during that same year in Florida from driving accidents. Over 2,300.
So mathematically speaking, you are 209 times more likely to die on the way to the beach, then actually from a flesh eating bacteria at the beach.
What does that mean?
Go to the beach for the love of Pete. But be careful on your drive there!! That’s what the headline should have read! Or maybe this:
“Stay in the ocean this summer to avoid being killed in a car.”
But instead we get:
“Watch out for flesh eating bacteria.”
Next, let’s cover dry drowning. Dry drowning occurs when a person inhales a small amount of water during a struggle. The results can be fatal. But you know what else is fatal? Real drowning. In fact, of all drowning cases, 99% of fatalities are typical drowning cases. But if you could see my face book feed you would think it was the opposite. Maybe one or two people mentioning that it is a good idea to get swim lessons, and everyone else is making sure I know about dry drowning.
*Once again, the warning is not proportionate to the risk.*
A better use of everyone’s newsfeed would be to encourage others to make sure their kids learn how to swim, like really swim, not with floaties. Here is a statistic that actually should scare every single person in Florida. Drowning, the real kind, is the number one killer of kids under 5. Number one. Not cancer, not vaccinations, not flesh-eating bacteria, not even car accidents. Drowning. You must have your kids vaccinated to get them into school to make sure they don’t spread polio. But polio isn’t what is killing our little children. Water is.
Here’s the thing. You are TERRIFYING people. These are the symptoms to watch for and go to the hospital if you see “ANY OF THEM”
-Feeling extremely tired
-Lips or skin turning blue
-Changes in behavior
-A high-pitched breathing sound called stridor
-Foam around the mouth – Anyone pulled from the water who is coughing or sputtering and has foam around their mouth needs emergency care immediately.
If a person who has been in water shows any of these symptoms, call 911 or get them to a hospital emergency room as soon as possible.
This list is so bizarre. Either they are normal reactions to swimming all day. (Coughing, changes in behavior, or extremely tired) OR they are obvious reasons to call the Dr. (Trouble breathing and turning blue)
But everyone shares this article and moms everywhere freak out.
There are a lot of people clamoring for our attention. And trust me, as an information junkie, I think information is absolutely important. I just think it should be proportionate to how it affects us and the world at large, and what we can reasonably do about it.
This may surprise you, but I actually do believe that certain people should stay out of the water at the beach. But unlike Florida officials, my reasons aren’t because of flesh eating bacteria or dry drowning. The reason that people, kids especially, should stay out of the water is if they cannot swim! Do not despair though, because “not being able to swim” is curable!! Simply find a good teacher. A good teacher can get your kid swimming in a week, not over the course of a million weeks. Do it now. Do it fast. Yes, it costs money, but seriously people. What is more important?