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Refugees live in fear of Lightning at Mwange Refugee Camp

Refugees at Mwange Refugee Camp are living in fear of lightning which is a visible electric discharge produced by thunderstorms.Meanwhile, 20 of the 25 Surge Protectors which were put in the camp to protect the refugees from lightening have since collapsed due to termites eating away the unprotected wooden poles used to holding the protectors.Surge Protectors were put in the camp to act as lightening arrestors said Alexie Lumbi World Visions Agriculture and Natural Resource Coordinator for Mwange Project.A refugee Forman on Maintenance and Construction Ngoza Mwimbo said the refugees were in fear of their lives seeing that only five Surge Protectors were left in the Camp because there are no chemicals to protect the wood poles from being eaten by termites. He said wooden poles were used to hold surge protectors because they do not transmit electric charges sent by lightening.He explained that they decided to put up Surge Protectors because he knew the impact the arrestors have on the people in the Camp that had experienced strikes of lightening which had even led to a couple of deaths in the camp.He added that the Surge Protectors in the camp are strategically placed at public places such as health centers, schools, distribution centers and churches.Francis Numbi a refugee at Mwange explained that lightning strikes at Mwange refuge camp have caused burns and death. He said lightening had caused major problems for the refugee camp including damaging critical equipment. Numbi said that last year lightning produced electrical surges that damaged and even destroyed six 12 volt batteries that give power to a FORGE Computer Lab that has 10 laptops, a printer and a scanner. Some refugees said that when the rain starts they seek for indoor shelter away from doors and windows. Some refugee officials said when it starts raining they rush to the stay in their cars.Refugees who have electronic appliances unplug their equipment while most of equipment have in built Surge Protectors.Over three weeks have passed In Mporokoso District and people have not been watching the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) station following a strike of lightening at the Television Antenna. At Press time The District Officer was reported to be in Kasama.Meanwhile people in Mporokoso are being entertained to some Tanzanian channels which they are watching free from the use of Free to Air satellite dishes. The overall risk of lightening at Mwange Refugee Camp is high and it is worth knowing how to reduce the risk if one finds themselves in one of these situations. The exact risk of being struck by lightning is difficult to determine at Mwange Refugee Camp. What was clear was that the refugees were taught by their Environmental Task Force that if they are caught in a lightning storm while outside in an open space, they needed to get indoors. In any case, refugees at Mwange need awareness on how they can protect themselves from lightening strikes. Meanwhile, Harvard Health Publication advises not to take a bath or shower during a storm. This is because one can get shocked if one is near pipes or faucets during an electrical storm, so experts recommend that you avoid taking baths or showers when lightning is striking nearby. It also advises on avoiding being near bodies of water if one is outside during a thunderstorm.The publication also advises on the use of mobile phones during a storm. Using a phone with a cord during a thunderstorm is not a good idea because an electrical shock may be transmitted along the phone cord to you. In fact, the use of any electrical appliance should be avoided. Talking on a cordless phone indoors is not considered a high-risk activity, even during an electrical storm. However, using a cell phone outside should be avoided because the metal in the phone may act as a lightning rod.There is also need to know how to calculate a storm’s distance. If, after one sees lightning, one can count the seconds until you hear thunder, that amount of time is not equivalent to the number of miles away the storm is. Rather, you should divide the number of seconds by five. For example, if you see a lightning bolt and count 10 seconds before you hear thunder, the source of that bolt is about two miles away.Seeing that Mwange Refugee Camp is located in a rural area full of trees it is also advised not to take refuge under a tree as tall objects are more likely to attract lightning during a storm.To avoid being hit by a single bolt of lightening it is advised not too hurdle with others. If one is caught out in a storm, it is best to stay at least some meters apart from others to reduce the chances that any one person will be struck by a bolt of lightning. If people stay close together a number of them can easily be injured by a single bolt.Sitting on the ground when there is a storm is also discouraged by the Harvard Health Publication. It says that if one is caught out in the open during an electrical storm, sitting or lying down on the ground should be avoided because most lightning that injures people strikes the earth and travels through the ground; for this reason, the less contact you have with the ground the better. Ideally it says that trees, tall structures and open spaces altogether should be avoided. It asks people to seek shelter in a fully enclosed structure such as a home or a car.It also observed that if the sky is clear above anyone or the storm is far away, one can still be struck by lightning. Actually, “bolts from the blue” account for a significant proportion of lightning-related injuries. Because lightning may travel more than 20 miles before touching down, a storm can be in the next town and still cause injury or death. For this reason, experts recommend that you go inside when the source of lightning is six miles away or closer (that is, if the interval between lightning and thunder is 30 seconds or less) and wait until 30 minutes have passed since the last lightning or thunder struck before you resume outside activities (this is known as the “30/30 rule”).The Harvard Health Publication encourages helping lightening victims and opposed to one of the most prominent lightning-related myths that one should not touch a lightning victim or one will also be shocked.

One Comment

  1. kass kass September 19, 2010

    Texte with no paragraphe… Boring to read.

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