Bears and teddy bears. The difference between the two could not be starker. One is massive, terrifying, and dangerous. The other is small, cuddly, and goes hand-in-hand with small children. It seems ridiculous to ask which one is more dangerous, but the answer might surprise you.
According to the Human Society of the United States, from 1990 to 2013, there have been 95 incidents of bear attacks in the United States. These resulted in 6 human deaths. This list of fatal bear attacks in North America shows an average of about 2 human deaths per year.
When it comes to the smaller, “safer” kind of bear, the numbers are shocking. Teddy bears and other toys accounted for 226,000 toy-related injuries in 2018. Ironically, 2018 had the lowest number of overall reported toy-related injuries in the period between 2010 and 2018.
Granted, not all of these can be attributed to teddy bears, but they are certainly a big contributor. The Early Years Health and Safety Handbook by Lynn Parker reports some 1,500 accidents from soft toys such as teddy bears. The biggest cause of death and injury is choking on parts of the toy. This prompted Build-A-Bear to issue a recall of nearly 300,000 bears in 2011. Additional danger comes from the risk of a child being smothered while sleeping or from someone tripping over the toy.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 13 toy-related fatalities for the 2017 calendar year. This puts the rate of toy-caused deaths at nearly six times that of bear-inflicted fatalities.
Keep all of this in mind the next time you venture out into nature or, for that matter, take a stroll through the toy aisle at your neighborhood department store. While they may look adorable, teddy bears can kill!
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Read more fun facts about statistics.