9 Tips to Keep You and Yours Safe for the Solar Eclipse

solar eclipse safety tips
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In just a few days, a lucky twelve states will get to witness what they're calling a “once in a lifetime event.” The “Great American Eclipse” will spread it's shadow over a vast majority of the Midwest and I happen to live right in the epicenter of St. Louis, so lucky me!

The path of “totality,” or 100 per cent darkness, is only 70 miles wide and it comes right over my hometown. I don't know about the rest of the country, and how it differs if they are in the umbra's path or not, but here – it's complete madness.

There's an estimated 3.4 million people able to view it in Missouri, and good ol' Stl is the largest city in its path. People are predicting animals go quiet and plants close up. It's going to be wild. So long as it's sunny …

Since not many of us know with certainty how this will actually go down, we have to focus on what we know to be true: which is this thing can really hurt your eyes if viewed incorrectly. So no matter where you are, take all the proper safety precautions so this eclipse won't leave a lasting impression in your eyesight, just your memories.

“Looking directly at the sun during a solar eclipse can cause solar retinopathy; when the sun burns the rods and cones of the retina, creating small blind areas. This can lead to a temporary, or even permanent decrease in vision acuity,” said Dr. Frederick Fraunfelder, director of ophthalmology at University of Missouri Health Care and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the MU School of Medicine.

These tips are standard for people of all ages-including children.

  • First off, if you normally wear glasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front.
  • Only wear special-purpose solar filters such as eclipse glasses that are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard.
  • Inspect the lenses before use. If they are at all scratched or damaged, get a new pair.
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses before looking at the sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter – don't remove it while looking at the sun.
  • Don't look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other device.
  • Don't look at the sun through a camera or other device while using your glasses. The concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
  • If you're in the path of totality, remove the glasses only when the umbra completely covers the sun. As soon as the sun begins to reappear, replace your glasses to look at the remaining phases.
  • Even if you're outside the path of totality, always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.

Safety Rules Especially for Children: 6 Easy Steps

Because damage to the eyes can happen in three to five seconds, it's especially important for children to be supervised during the eclipse viewing at all times. Below are six steps to make sure they stay safe.

  • Kids should walk to the viewing location with heads down.
  • Once there, they should turn their back to the sun, bend over, and put on the glasses.
  • Turn around to view the eclipse.
  • Once done, turn around with glasses still on.
  • Bend over with back to the sky and take off the glasses.
  • Walk back inside without looking at the sun again.

Dr. Fraunfelder warns that damage can be done without a presence of pain. “Additionally, you may experience what is called an after image. This happens when you look at a bright object, and when you look away or close your eyes, you still see that object. These images usually go away in a few minutes, but prolonged exposure to the sun could cause these after images to persist. If that is the case, I would suggest seeking medical attention.”

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9 Tips to Keep You and Yours Safe for the Solar Eclipse

Nichole Richardson is a St.Louis based freelance writer with a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Missouri-St.Louis. Richardson was selected and attended the National Media Convention hosted in Orlando, Florida and worked at Barnes Jewish Hospital (ranked in the top ten in the nation) in Public Relations writing press releases, online, and print copy. She has had articles published in BJC Today, BJH website, Suite101.com, The Current, The Independent News, and Patch.com amongst others. ... More

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