Bandeira do Brasil

Bandeira do Brasil

Sunday, August 18, 2013

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS... AT LIGHTNINGS

 Brazil is spared the types of natural catastrophes that afflict many other countries - tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, blizzards, and avalanches are all unheard of and earthquakes are negligible to non-existent. Sure there are floods and mudslides, but in most cases, the damage they inflict is due to human negligence and lack of proper planning and infrastructure rather than Mother Nature’s viciousness. 

What most people don’t know about Brazil is that it’s the country where you’re most likely to be zapped by lightning. That’s because when it comes to the frequency of raios, Brazil is the world champion. According to statistics compiled by the Grupo de Eletricidade Atmosférica (Elat) , a research group devoted to the study of atmospheric electricity, which is part of Brazil’s Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (Inpe), lightning strikes in Brazil around 58 million times a year – and 156,000 times a day.
Moreover, each year the number of lightning strikes has been increasing. Researchers at Elat believe that recent climate change is the culprit; they estimate that for every degree the temperature rises, the frequency of lightning can increase by between 10 and 20 percent.
Over the last 10 years, lightning bolts have been the cause of 1,321 deaths in Brazil. Last year alone there were 81 fatalities. The largest number occurred in the North (the state of Amazonas receives the largest number of lightning bolts; around 11 million a year), followed by the Central-West. The fewest number of deaths occurred in the South.
To make sure you don’t get zapped while in Brazil, here are some Lightning Tips:
  • Stay away from wide open spaces (if on a beach, seek shelter off the sand)
  • Get out of the water (whether the ocean, a swimming pool, or even a shower); water is a major conductor of electricity
  • Cell phone aren’t a danger (unless they’re plugged into rechargers) nor are fixed phones (as long as they’re wireless).
  • Buildings are safer than houses, which are safer than being outdoors
  • If you’re in a car, shut all the doors and windows, sit back, relax, and stay away from all metallic surfaces. (There is no recorded instance of anyone in Brazil ever having been killed by lightning while sitting in a closed car).

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