Richland County ESD: Don’t be in the Dark about Upcoming Solar Eclipse

(RICHLAND PIO) — South Carolina’s Capital County is expected to be one of the best places in the world to view this month’s total solar eclipse.

With one million spectators anticipated to visit the state for the Aug. 21 celestial occasion, Richland County’s Emergency Services Department (ESD) is taking several precautions to keep the public safe before and after the eclipse, which lasts from approximately 1 p.m.-4 p.m. with totality occurring from 2:41 p.m.-2:44 p.m.  ESD managers have been meeting with national, state and local officials for several months to plan for the eclipse, and the County is working with neighboring agencies — including the City of Columbia, Lexington County and the University of South Carolina — to combine resources.

“We’re planning for heavy traffic, much in the same way we prepared for the influx in traffic during the lane reversals in October as a result of Hurricane Matthew,” said Richland County ESD Director Michael Byrd. “We will have extra emergency responders on duty and the County’s Emergency Operations Command center will partially activate to monitor conditions and be ready if extra resources or special operations are needed.”

Solar eclipse-themed celebrations abound in Richland County during the weekend leading up to and including Aug. 21, details of which can be found at the Total Eclipse Weekend website,totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com. Byrd encourages everyone – whether attending an event or viewing the eclipse from home – to practice several tips to safely enjoy this highly anticipated phenomenon, including:

  • Don’t look directly at the sun.  The only safe way to look at an uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through approved solar-filter glasses or handheld solar viewers.
  • Be prepared for extreme heat. Stay hydrated and keep extra water on-hand if viewing the eclipse at a public event, where long lines could form for drinks and refreshments.
  • Don’t drive, walk around or perform other tasks wearing eclipse glasses. These special solar-filter glasses are unsafe to be worn as sunglasses while driving or walking.
  • Be aware of distracted drivers, as the eclipse may catch some motorists off guard. Don’t operate vehicles or machinery while viewing the eclipse.
  • Don’t stop, park or stand on interstates, roads or bridges to view the eclipse.
  • Exercise patience.

To view an interactive map of the path of the Aug. 21 solar eclipse, visit www.rcgov.us/eclipse. For solar eclipse news and updates from Richland County Government, follow Richland County on Twitter and Facebook (@RichlandSC) and #RCtotaleclipse.