Solar Eclipse Safety Tips
On Monday, August 21, people across the country will witness the first total solar eclipse to cross America in 99 years. Residents of the Kansas City metro have a unique opportunity to view the eclipse as the metro is positioned near the “path of totality,” where the moon will block out the sun completely for up to three minutes.
As amazing as this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view the solar eclipse is, there are important safety tips to keep in mind to ensure the best possible eclipse viewing experience. (Safety tips compiled by the Regional Association of Public Information Officers.)
Viewing the eclipse:
- Protect your eyes! The only safe way to look directly at the sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. If you buy eclipse glasses, buy from a reputable vendor and make sure the glasses meet ISO 12312-2 international safety standards.
- Don’t look through a camera lens or binoculars without a solar filter. This can cause serious injury.
- If you normally wear glasses, keep them on and put the eclipse glasses over them.
- Always supervise children using solar filters.
- If you plan to take photos, seek expert advice on proper equipment and techniques.
If you’re traveling:
- Pack an emergency kit in case you get stuck in traffic or can’t find a place to stay. Include water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, infant supplies if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information.
- Don’t rely on GPS or map apps – cell phone service may be overwhelmed. Print out your directions.
- Let family or friends know where you are going and the route you plan to take to get there.
- Plan to arrive at your destination at least a day ahead of the eclipse. Know where you plan to stay, as most hotel rooms along the eclipse path are already sold out or renting for extremely high rates.
- Keep your gas tank full so you don’t run out if you get stuck in traffic.
- Stay informed. Learn how officials in the area you’re planning to visit contact people in case of an emergency. Download free apps from the American Red Cross and other reliable information sources.
- Check the weather forecast, and dress in layers so you can adjust to changes in weather conditions.
- Have an emergency plan. Determine a location to meet in case someone gets separated from your group, and where to go if there is severe weather.
If you’re staying in town:
- The partial eclipse will begin at around 11:30 a.m., with totality for our region occurring shortly after 1 p.m. The eclipse will end by about 2:45 p.m.
- Avoid driving during the event if you can. If you must be out on the roads, drive with extra caution and consider taking the roads less traveled in your community. Do not pull over and park on busy roadways to view the eclipse.
- Fill up your gas tank the day before the event.
- Charge your cell phone, and make a contingency plan for staying in touch with family if cell phone service is unavailable.
- Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. August weather is normally hot and humid. Use sunscreen and stay hydrated if you are outdoors. If storms are in the forecast, take precautions. Remember the warnings for thunderstorms (If Thunder Roars, Go Indoors) and flash flooding (Turn Around, Don’t Drown).
- Be prepared and stay informed. Have an emergency kit on hand, have a plan and monitor reliable news sources for emergency information. Visit preparemetrokc.org for more information about emergency planning.
Still looking for a place to watch the eclipse?
Join the Olathe Public Library for "Park, Picnic & Partial Eclipse!" Attendees can participate in eclipse activities, learn about the future library, and see the moon cover 99.47 percent of the sun at approximately 1:08 p.m. The first 100 attendees will receive a free pair of eclipse viewing glasses. Bottled water and frozen treats will be provided.
"Park, Picnic & Partial Eclipse" will take place on Monday, August 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the future home of the Indian Creek Library at 135th St. and Brougham Dr. In case of inclement weather, a live stream of the total eclipse will be held at the Indian Creek Library, 13511 S. Mur-Len Rd., Ste. 129.