Brazil, lightning’s world champion

Nowhere else on the planet is hit by more lightning than Brazil. It kills about 130 Brazilians a year, and injures over 200. It also causes damage worth R$ 1 billion a year

On March 5 the city of Rio de Janeiro was struck by 2,149 lightning bolts. It’s an impressive number, but did not surprise the experts. About 60 million lightning bolts hit Brazil each year, according to estimates by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), in São José dos Campos). In the last ten years there has been an 18% increase in lightning strikes in the country. Experts believe this will increase further in the coming decades. Between 2000 and 2009, 1,321 Brazilians were killed by lightning, at an average of 132 fatalities a year. Of this total, 19% were killed on plantations or while herding up animals during storms. INPE says 80% of deaths caused by lightning could have been avoided if people knew how to take care.

How to protect yourself from lightning

 INPE has produced a booklet of tips on how to protect yourself in electrical storms. Care must be taken even if you are at home. Stay away from metal-framed windows and doors. You should not touch any electrical equipment that is connected to the mains. Also, you should not use a wired land line telephone or hold large metal objects. If you are outdoors, do not shelter under trees or near wire fences. It is even more dangerous if you are in wide open spaces, such as beaches or soccer fields, or if you are swimming in pools or lakes. In such cases you should shelter in a safer place, including cars, but you must close the doors and windows.

1 lightning bolts – raios
2 to be struck – ser atingido (to strick = atingir)
3 to herd up – recolher o rebanho / animais
4 booklet – cartilha
5 storm – tempestade
6 metal-framed – metálico (a)
7 mains = aqui = tomadas
8 wired land line telephone – telefone com fio
9 to shelter – abrigar
10 wire fences – cercas de arame

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