Unusual Ways to Die: Falling Coconuts

Falling coconuts may be an unusual way to die on term life insurance, but not impossible. A full-sized coconut can weigh in at over three pounds, and 2.5% of hospital admissions in New Guinea were due to falling coconut-related injuries.

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Ashley Dannelly has a Master of Arts in English and teaches English at Columbia International University and other higher education institutions. She is also a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise and trains clients in both individual and group settings. Ashley’s background in English and fitness has allowed her the opportunity to write and create content for many ...

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Written by Ashley Dannelly
Certified Personal Trainer Ashley Dannelly

Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent Benji Carr

UPDATED: May 12, 2022

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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 piña colada. Who could have known this unsuspecting tropical tree is a secret assassin? It turns out that death by coconut is possible.

Check out other causes of death in America.

It has been widely reported that there are roughly 150 fatalities attributable to the vengeful coconut each year.

However, the truth is, the peaceful fruit may not be so guilty after all. While there is a high annual rate of trauma admissions due to coconut palm-related injuries, the actual figure is just 2 coconut deaths per year. In contrast, there are roughly 60 shark incidents annually, including shark attacks and shark bites, and these shark incidents kill about ten people each year.

So, you may have heard that you should be more fearful of coconuts on trees than you should shark attacks but, the annual death rate says otherwise.

That’s not to say that death by coconut is impossible, though.

Are the coconut risks real?

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!  Simple physics can tell you that thing would drop like a coconut bomb!

Although statistics on deaths by coconut, hospitals in tropical locations do report coconut-related trauma patients. 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 accounts of coconut-related injuries. While the possibility of death by coconut is very real, a bigger risk might come from accidents related to falling while climbing coconut palm trees.

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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 and keep an ear out for loud thuds. 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 water to ease the bump on your noggin!

Also, make sure you have a solid travel insurance policy in place to take care of any medical care you might need if you cross paths with a vengeful coconut.

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