People across North America are going to be treated to a rare sight: a total solar eclipse. The eclipse’s totality, where the sun is completely blacked out, will carve a path across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. States in the path of the eclipse’s totality have been preparing for months for the enormous influx of eclipse tourists.
If you’re planning to check out the eclipse, some not-so-common knowledge can save you and your family a headache (or worse). Let’s lay out 10 safety tips for the upcoming solar eclipse.
Thoroughly inspect your eclipse glasses
If you’re using sunlight-filtering eclipse glasses, thoroughly read and follow the instructions that come with them. If they are scratched or damaged, they probably won’t work correctly. You’ll need a replacement part.
Always supervise children
Mom always told me not to look at the sun, and that goes double during an eclipse. Children are the most likely to have trouble viewing a solar eclipse head on. Test their glasses first and show them the proper way to use them. Monitor children closely.
Make sure your glasses are working
To test whether or not your light filtering glasses are working correctly, don them and look at the sun for a moment. Look away, THEN remove the glasses. You shouldn’t see any spots in your vision. If you do, the glasses are not working correctly.
Don’t look at the sun, eclipse or not
A 50% covered sun is not 50% less dangerous for your vision. Don’t look at the sun. Don’t look at the sun through a camera, telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device.
Glasses won’t always protect you
If you’re wearing light filtering glasses, looking through a telescope or other optical device during the eclipse will render the glasses unable to fully protect your eyes.
Talk to the experts
Before you look at the sun using a solar filter on your camera, telescope, or binoculars, talk to a professional astronomer. They will help you make sure you’re using the devices properly.
If you’re in the path of totality
Only remove your solar filtering glasses during the complete eclipse. The moon will almost completely cover the sun’s surface and things will be looking very dark. When the eclipse begins to wane, put your solar viewer back on to continue viewing.
Don’t take your glasses off
If you wear glasses for your normal vision, don’t take them off. Simply hold your filtering glasses over your normal glasses.
Make sure glasses are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard
If they do not explicitly note that they’re compliant with this safety standard, they may not be safe to use. Do not use if torn, punctured, or scratched.
Limit viewing time
Some argue that ISO 12312-2 safety standard complaint glasses are safe for continuous viewing, but to be safe, give your eyes a break every 3 to 5 minutes to make sure you aren’t overdoing it.
Follow these guidelines and you will, without a doubt, never forget this eclipse.