8 things you need to do to prepare for the total solar eclipse
by Jamie Hale | The Oregonian, OregonLive
Whether you’re staying at home or traveling to the path of totality, the total solar eclipse calls for some advance planning and preparation. As an estimated 1 million people crowd into a narrow band across Oregon on Aug. 21, crucial supplies could be in short order, forests will be especially vulnerable to fire and traffic is expected to hit unprecedented levels statewide.
Oregonians – and folks around the country – would do well to follow the old Boy Scout motto: be prepared. So before you go, take a minute to make a checklist of all you need to get ready for the big day. We’ll get you started right now.
AP Photo/Haakon Mosvold Larsen, NTB Scanpix
1. Have a place to watch it
Don’t already have a place to watch the eclipse? You should get one – right now. All campgrounds and hotels are booked solid, and most towns and public spaces in the path of totality will be slammed. If you’re expecting to leave early on the morning of the eclipse, think again: Nobody knows for sure how bad it will be, but state officials agree that it will likely be worse than we’ve ever seen before. If you need help finding a place to hunker down, here are 20 last-minute places to stay for the eclipse.
Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian
2. Stock up on food and water
With thousands of people gathering in small areas, many for a week or more, there will naturally be a shortage of basic supplies – especially in small towns not accustomed to huge crowds. Go shopping ahead of time and stock up on all the food and water you’ll need during your eclipse trip, then stock up on a little more in case you get stranded. This applies to people staying home too, as grocery stores outside the path of totality could get slammed as well.
3. Get a pair of eclipse glasses
Staring at an eclipse is literally staring at the sun, even if the moon is covering 99 percent of it. To watch the partial eclipse, you’ll need a special pair of sunglassesthat keep your eyeballs safe, which you can buy at most local grocery stores, like Fred Meyer, Bi-Mart and Market of Choice. Make sure they include the “ISO” logo on the inside of the frames, which means they conform to requirements for direct observation of the sun. And if you’re lucky enough to see 100 percent totality, make sure you take your glasses OFF when complete darkness arrives.
Faith Cathcart/The Oregonian
4. Leave early, go home late
The Oregon Department of Transportation warns that travelers could experience “serious interstellar shock” if they don’t steel themselves for the impending traffic jams across the state. If your plans are at all flexible, consider leaving a few days in advance, and staying a day or two after the eclipse to avoid the rush. A lot of people may assume the traffic will be akin to that of a college football game, but that’s an unwise prediction. “Please don’t do that,” ODOT urges. “Build breathing space into your travel plans.”
5. Know the fire dangers
The solar eclipse happens to coincide with peak wildfire season in Oregon, and that could mean big trouble in forests on public land. All it takes is a smoldering campfire, a car parked over dry grass or a stray cigarette butt to ignite a fire, which could endanger people who are camped out or live nearby. The smoke could also obscure the eclipse, spoiling the experience for people all over the state. Leave your campfire materials at home, and be aware of the fire dangers around you.
6. Make a detailed plan ahead of time
If you’re traveling, consider what supplies you’ll need, what route you’ll be taking and make a detailed plan before you go. Ask yourself questions like: Where is the nearest gas station? Do I have a paper map for these roads? Is there a hospital nearby? Take the time to consider all worst-case scenarios and plan accordingly.
7. Don’t expect to have cell service – or electricity
People are bound to use their smart phones during the eclipse, to document the event and share it wide and far. That means there’s a good chance cell service will be completely jammed, despite efforts from AT&T, Sprint and Verizon to boost connectivity with portable cell towers in central Oregon. Charging your phone might be a challenge as well, as a lot of eclipse watching spots are in fields or campgrounds without electricity.
8. Practice your photography
Planning on taking some nice snapshots of the eclipse? We have a whole other post on how to photograph a solar eclipse, but the big piece of advice is to practice ahead of time, so you don’t get flustered and waste valuable time during totality. Seasoned astronomer and eclipse chaser Fred Espenak said it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the experience, especially if you’ve never seen a total solar eclipse before.