Brazil's beaches can pose a threat to the safety of travelers. Many beaches have very strong and dangerous riptides, including those in Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza. Always observe posted flags and signs warning of strong swells and currents, and never swim while under the influence of alcohol. Even if the water looks safe there may be strong riptides. Ocean currents and waves are unpredictable, even in popular beaches frequented by tourists. In 2011, one U.S. citizen suffered serious injuries and two died while swimming at Copacabana beach.
Travelers are advised to adhere to local authorities' guidance and refrain from swimming alone in areas marked with red warning signs or at beaches where there are no municipal lifeguards or first responder services. There is a possibility of shark attacks in the waters of many of the beaches in northeastern Brazil, including those in Recife, Natal, and Maceio. Heed signs posted on any beach you visit.
Brazil is an endemic area for schistosomiasis, a water-borne parasite, and travelers should avoid wading, swimming, or other contact with fresh water in streams, lakes, and ponds.
Blackouts: Blackouts in the large urban centers have struck areas with high concentrations of hotels and residences. During these blackouts, local authorities quickly increase police presence to maintain public security. In addition, most tourist hotels are equipped with generators, minimizing the impact of a blackout on visitors. Nonetheless, you should use caution in the event of a blackout during your visit to Brazil. Residents should keep flashlights and sufficient supplies of food and potable water in their residences to prepare for extended blackouts.
Natural Disasters: Flooding and mudslides occur throughout the country, and can be fatal. Monitor news and weather reports and adhere to municipal advisories before traveling to areas prone to flooding or landslides. Many of Brazil's larger cities have frequent heavy rainstorms that have caused flash flooding and crippled traffic for hours.
Customs Restrictions: Brazilian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into, or export from, Brazil of items such as firearms, antiquities, mineral samples, tropical plants, medications, and business equipment. In the Amazon region, there is special scrutiny of the export of biological material which could have genetic value. People propagating or exporting biological material without proper permits run the risk of being accused of "biopiracy," a serious offense in Brazil. Contact the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, D.C. or one of Brazil's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.