Unusual Ways to Die: Falling Coconuts

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The coconut palm tree is a tranquil beauty. Swaying casually with the breeze, it projects a soothing and laid-back air about its surroundings. A beach vacation just wouldn’t feel right without relaxing beneath a palm tree with a pina colada. Who could have known this unsuspecting tropical tree is a secret assassin?

Coconut Risks

Coconut palm trees usually grow to be between 25 and 90 feet tall and can produce up to 75 coconuts per year. A full-sized coconut can weigh in at over 3 pounds. If a 3-pound coconut fell from a height of 100 feet, it would hit the ground with a force of 4,181 Newtons, or about 940 pounds of force. The force of impact would be even greater for a larger coconut. That is enough to cause significantly more than a bruise!

Although statistics on coconut-related deaths are scarce, hospitals in tropical locations do report coconut-related admissions. According to an article by Peter Barss in the Journal of Trauma-Injury, Infection and Critical Care, a hospital in Papua New Guinea reported 2.5% of admissions were due to falling coconut-related injuries. Unverified reports state that the worldwide annual falling coconut-related death rate could be as high as 150 per year. That’s enough to re-think where you hang your hammock! While the possibility of dying from a falling coconut is very real, a bigger risk might come from accidents related to falling while climbing coconut palm trees.

Did you know:

  • A coconut palm tree can grow as high as 90 feet?
  • Coconuts are grown in 90 countries?
  • The scientific name for coconut is Cocos nucifera. The name ‘coconut’ was given by early Spanish explorers. ‘Coco’ means monkey and ‘Nucifera’ means nut-bearing?

To stay safe around coconut palm trees, observe any warning signs in the area. Also, it’s probably not a good idea to hang out underneath towering coconut trees that haven’t been groomed. If a coconut does fall on your head and you survive the impact, try drinking the fresh coconut juice to ease the bump on your noggin!

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