Eclipse Safety

What is an Eclipse and Why Prepare?

solar-eclipse.jpg

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks any part of the sun. On Monday, August 21, 2017, a solar eclipse will be visible (weather permitting) across all of North America. The whole continent will experience a partial eclipse lasting 2 to 3 hours. Halfway through the event, anyone within a roughly 70‐mile‐wide path from Oregon to South Carolina (https://go.nasa.gov/2pC0lhe) will experience a brief total eclipse, when the moon completely blocks the sun’s bright face for up to 2 minutes 40 seconds, turning day into night and making visible the otherwise hidden solar corona — the Sun’s outer atmosphere — one of nature’s most awesome sights. Bright stars and planets will become visible as well.

St. Joseph is located in the path of the total eclipse for one of the longest durations of obscuration. Our communities are anticipating record numbers of visitors for this phenomenal event. Preparations are underway that involve government, businesses and organizations large and small. St. Joseph schools have been dismissed for the day (check with your school district for their schedule) and Trails West! has extended its run from three days to four in order to encompass the day of the eclipse. Our communities are getting prepared for the eclipse; are you?

Things to consider, which will be addressed in future issues of this special Total Preparation Information Series:

  • Traffic – St. Joseph roads will be more congested than normal traffic patterns
  • Crowd Safety – Personal comfort, safety, and injury prevention, could all be compromised if you get caught in a large crowd of people and are unable to move freely
  • Viewing – Looking directly at the sun is harmful to vision; eclipse observers should use glasses with special protective lenses
  • Appointments – Confirm appointments and allow additional  time to navigate to your destination
  • Employment – Traditional duties at work may be affected by the influx of people
  • Communications – Cell phone service will likely be interrupted or spotty
  • Day Care – Younger school‐aged children will need care during a  time they would typically be in school (check with your school district for their schedule)
  • Heat, Hydration & Sun Safety – Stock up on water and stay hydrated, and use sunscreen appropriately

Preparations should include planning for how to communicate, navigate and hydrate. Observers should also be aware of the potential harm to their vision and be prepared to view the eclipse with the appropriate safeguards. The event will be here soon, early preparation will allow everyone to more fully enjoy the phenomenon of the eclipse.

Eclipse Eyeglass Safety:  Don't be Blindsided

Plan ahead to decide if you’re going to make use of an indirect viewing method – more information below – or to watch the eclipse directly by using eclipse glasses. If the latter, please check the safety authenticity of viewing glasses to ensure they meet basic proper safety viewing standards.

Eclipse viewing glasses and handheld solar viewers should meet all the following criteria:

  • Have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard
  • Have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product
  • Not be used if they are older than three years, or have scratched or wrinkled lenses
  • Not use homemade filters or be substituted for with ordinary sunglasses -- not even very dark ones -- because they are not safe for looking directly at the Sun

Our partner the American Astronomical Society has verified that these five manufacturers are making eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers that meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only), Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.

Learn more here.

Eclipse Safe Driving Tips

  • Don't stop along interstates or roads and don't park on the shoulder.
  • Exit the road and find a safe place to stop and watch or photograph the eclipse
  • Pay attention. Distracted driving is very dangerous, particularly during this time of increased traffic on the roadways.
  • Never take photographs while driving.
  • See and be seen Turn your headlights on and do not rely on your vehicles auto headlight setting.
  • Watch out for extra pedestrians and cyclists along smaller roads before during and after the event. People may park randomly and walk along roads, particularly in the hour before the eclipse to get the best viewing.
  • Prepare for congestion especially on the interstates in the path of totality the day before, day of and day after the eclipse.
  • Don't wear "eclipse glasses" while you're driving. 
  • Avoid travel during the eclipse or in the area of the main path if you can. 
  • In the event of a non-injury traffic crash, move your vehicles off of the roadway to a safe location.
  • Check traffic conditions statewide on the Missouri Department of Transportation's online Traveler Information Map. It's also available as a free app: for iPhones and Androids.
  • Get more information and resources from MoDot.

Eclipse Safe Boating Tips

  • Make sure that your boat has proper lighting equipment if you will be out during the time of reduced visibility. If you are near the path of totality, it will become dark as night during the full eclipse.
  • Know exactly where you are in the time leading up to the eclipse and the hazards that exist in that location so you are fully prepared.
  • Keeping a safe distance from other boaters and swimmers is even more important during the eclipse since visibility virtually disappear in the minutes around the eclipse.
  • Don’t wear “eclipse glasses” while you’re operating watercraft.

Eclipse Camping

So you’re going to be camping for the eclipse! Camping during the eclipse will not differ from camping any other time except for the anticipated volume of campers if you are within a roughly 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina (https://go.nasa.gov/2pC0lhe). Because of the large number of people in the area, preparation will be the key to comfort!

If you are not a regular camper or outdoorsperson, a lot can be learned by visiting the library, getting online, or going to a sporting goods store. Visit with someone who has camping experience before embarking on your own adventure. As you make lists of things you will need, keep in mind the conditions you will face during the eclipse weekend. Bring more than enough food, water, sunscreen, insect repellent, and other supplies. Plan to be out in the heat for extended periods of time, and understand there will most likely be many other people around you. Traffic is likely to be heavy and a trip to the store to stock up on supplies may not be possible. Cell phone and internet service could be spotty.

There are several local areas where campsites have been established for the weekend. Most have restroom facilities, all are temporary campgrounds set up specifically to accommodate the influx of patrons to our region. The St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau website has links to many of the camping sites, found here.

Some items to bring when camping:

  • A tent or camper
  • Sleeping bag, mat, or air mattress and pump
  • Food preparation items - cooking utensils, coolers, etc.
  • A first aid kit should include bandages, antiseptic wipes, sterile gauze pads and tape, antibiotic ointment, acetaminophen and ibuprofen, tweezers, plastic non-latex gloves, disposable instant cold packs, calamine lotion, alcohol wipes, and a first aid manual
  • Lots of water: individual bottles, gallon juts, even non-potable water to rinse off 
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen, and use them regularly. Tick-borne illnesses across the nation are on the increase (learn what to look for and how to remove ticks before camping trip)
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • A pair of sandals you can slip on to do what you would normally do barefoot at home
  • Towels: Paper towels, hand towels, body towels, old grubby clean up the dog towels
  • Four trash can liners: One for trash, one for dirty clothes, one for wet clothes (and towels), and one for all the stuff you missed when you're packing up the car to leave
  • Toiletries: a toothbrush, soap, deodorant, toilet paper, other personal hygiene items
  • Prescription medications

There is more to camping than just having the right items. Especially for the eclipse weekend, expect the unexpected!

Check out wonderful places to camp throughout our great state at these Missouri websites.

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