Eclipse Safety Tips

How to View an Eclipse Safely

The last time Texas experienced a total solar eclipse was in 1878. On Monday, April 8th, Central Texans will have the chance to witness the moon passing between the sun and the Earth for the first time in 146 years.

There is more than meets the eye when preparing to view a total eclipse. Central Texas is predicted to have some of the best views of the celestial event. “It is important to know that viewing an eclipse without proper protection can cause permanent eye damage, harm your skin and more,” said Coryell County Health Authority Dr. Diedra Wuenschel. Serving as Coryell Health Medical Clinic Director and Chief of Medical Staff, Dr. Wuenschel wants the community to prepare ahead. Follow Coryell Health’s seven tips to prepare for the total eclipse and stay safe while enjoying this once-in-a-lifetime event. To download and print these eclipse safety tips, click here.

1. Wear Eclipse Glasses

Wearing eclipse glasses during a total solar eclipse is one of the most effective ways to shield your eyes from the sun’s rays and avoid permanent damage to your vision. Regular sunglasses are not dark enough to protect your eyes during an eclipse.

Your eclipse glasses should meet the ISO 12312-2 standard and be labeled accordingly. If you don’t see the ISO 12312-2 label anywhere on your glasses, they’re probably counterfeit and are unsafe to wear during an eclipse. As long as they’re shade 14 or darker, welding glasses or welding hoods can be a safe alternative to eclipse glasses. Don’t view the eclipse through any welding glass if you can’t find its shade number.

The only time it’s safe to directly look at the sun during a total solar eclipse is during totality, or when the moon completely blocks the face of the sun. During the rest of the eclipse, wear proper eye protection!

2. Place Solar Filters on Your Camera, Binoculars or Telescope

“Viewing any part of the bright Sun through a camera lens, binoculars or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics will instantly cause severe eye injury.” – NASA.

You must secure a solar filter over your camera, binoculars, telescope or other viewing device, even if you’re wearing eclipse glasses.

Wearing eclipse glasses while looking through a viewing device will cause serious damage to your eyes if there’s no solar filter attached to the lens. The concentration of the sun’s rays may burn through your eclipse glasses as you’re looking through the viewfinder and cause severe eye injury.

Remove the solar filter from your camera lens during totality if you’re photographing the total solar eclipse. As soon as the sun begins to come into view again, place your solar filter back on your lens and put your eye protection back on.

3. Protect Your Skin, Too!

When viewing a total solar eclipse, it’s critical to wear sunscreen, a hat and other protective clothing. If you’re watching the entire eclipse, you may be in direct sunlight for hours, and it’s essential to cover up while drinking plenty of water.

Even though the sun is partially or completely covered during the phases of a total solar eclipse, that doesn’t make the sun’s rays any less dangerous for your skin.

“We have noticed the paper eclipse glasses don’t stay on well, especially for young children whose heads are smaller than the glasses frames. Wearing a hat or a cap can help prevent the sun rays from shining through the top of the glasses gap,” adds Wuenschel.

4. Anticipate Traffic

Expect heavy traffic from Thursday, April 4th to Tuesday, April 9th (especially April 8th, the day of the eclipse). Schedule any appointments, grocery shopping or gas runs accordingly.

The nation’s last total solar eclipse in 2017 saw traffic congestion in some areas lasting up to 13 hours following the eclipse’s totality — rural routes were most affected. According to an analysis of traffic patterns from that year, the worst traffic tends to be after the eclipse ends while many people are attempting to leave all at once. With this in mind, leave later rather than earlier to avoid congestion.

5. Prepare for Supply Shortages

Stock up on the essentials before the anticipated traffic spike begins, starting April 4th. Due to the influx of visitors to the area, gas stations may run low or out during the peak travel time for the eclipse. Fill up your tank and purchase food, water, toiletries and other supplies at least a few days before the eclipse on April 8th. If you have any maintenance medications that need refilling, it’s best to plan ahead and make sure you are well-supplied a few days to a week before the eclipse on April 8th.

6. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

The world doesn’t stop turning while a total solar eclipse is happening. Most people’s attention will be up at the sky rather than where they’re walking or driving, so be aware of your surroundings. “It’s important to focus, especially if finding your eclipse viewing spot involves navigating a large group of people, walking in a field and using a camera. Many accidents can be avoided if everyone stays diligent,” said Dr. Wuenschel.

Thousands of visitors are heading to Central Texas to watch the eclipse, but many may not be familiar with the local landscape and potential hazards. It is important to watch where you step — holes and snakes can be hidden in grassy areas. “Coryell Health has been preparing for the influx of people to the area, including increasing inventory levels of many medications, ensuring we have plenty, including snake bite antivenin,” adds Dr. Wuenschel.

7. Seek Medical Attention if Necessary

Eye damage from the eclipse is unlikely to cause pain or discomfort due to the retina’s lack of pain nerves. Instead, you would notice symptoms including blurry vision, headache, distortion and blind spots within four to six hours.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology states that there is no treatment for solar retinopathy, which is why it’s so important to protect your and any children in your care’s eyes during an eclipse.

“Heat exhaustion, dehydration and broken bones are the most common outdoor event injuries we see,” says Wuenschel. Coryell Health Quick Care provides medical treatment for illnesses and injuries requiring immediate attention that aren’t life-threatening. For more serious injuries, call 911. Coryell Health Emergency Room is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

By following these tips, you’re set to safely enjoy this year’s total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8th!