For all those who on deciding to go to a desert island ask me questions like: What if a snake gets into my bed?…What if a shark bites my leg?…or the best of all….What should I do if I come face to face with a tiger? And my answer is always:
What you do have to be careful of are the coconuts!
“You’re joking” is what you may be thinking. NO, I say as tigers don’t live on desert islands – A great relief for all, I’m sure – nor are sharks to be seen in these beautiful waters – least of all those which attack humans – nor do snakes go anyway near people – it’s us who have to go looking for them -. But, yes, there are coconuts and they make their presence known throughout the day with a resounding thud as they hit the floor. These are the Falling Coconut Deaths – Coconut Falling on Head!!
A green coconut, full grown and with its shell, still on the palm tree, can weigh up to two kilos (41/2 lbs.) because it’s full of water. If you take into account that palm trees can grow as high as 30 metres (98 feet) which is about the height of an 8 storey building, the speed with which a coconut falls reaches around 85 km/hr (53 mph). This means that the force of the coconut as it hits the ground is equivalent in weight to a ton. Or, looking at it a different way, if it did fall, this fruit so highly valued by castaways, would have the same effect as a Austin Mini falling from about a foot and a half above your head.
There are no reliable records on this subject but it is estimated that every year about 150 people die as a direct cause of this. This number isn’t as high as it could be if it is taken into account that there are millions of people living amongst palm trees but, take note, it’s still ten times higher than the number of people who die each year from shark attacks!
The majority of the people whose deaths were caused by falling coconuts were having a nap under the coconut palm, a ‘siesta’ from which they never awoke. Of all the different types of accidents from coconut palms, the worst one is if you are caught lying down which is to say that it’s much better to be standing up when the coconut does a K.O. If it catches you on the head when you’re lying down it’s mortally dangerous because the head is in direct contact with the floor so the ‘braking distance’ on impact is zero. The best advice to follow is that if you’re going to get in the way of a falling coconut, make sure you’re standing up!
It may seem a bit of an obsession, but when I’m walking around a desert island I can’t help but look out of the corner of my eye at the tallest palm trees so I can avoid being in ‘target range’. This means that as I walk along the beach I may look a bit ridiculous or even ‘tipsy’ as I work my way along with zigzag movements. The main palm tree in the following photo would be, without doubt, the perfect place to zigzag, I would even consider going into the sea to avoid an ‘accident’…
But I wouldn’t ask you to follow my example because the threat isn’t really so real. What is certain, though, is that on uncountable occasions I have seen coconuts fall too close for comfort, and you can hear their peculiar ‘thud’ on the video of the monkey. Be careful, as there are islands like the one in the following photo where walking along the beach can be ‘risky’ and it could even be advisable to ‘swim’ round the island. The reason, obviously, is that as the statistics say, the chances of being hit by a coconut are ten times greater than being ‘bit’ by a shark!!
Now you tell me: Have you lived to tell the tale of being hit on the head by a coconut? Do you zigzag when walking on a desert island, or have you a better way of protecting yourself? Leave your comments below and we’ll talk about it!
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