We’re Planning… Are You?
You may be thinking, don’t stare at the sun and get some eclipse glasses – plan done. That is a great start and was our initial reaction three years ago when the Ohio EMA and the Union County EMA first looped us in. But then, our skillful EMA partners shared lessons learned from communities in Kentucky and Oregon who experienced total eclipses in 2017. And we quickly realized we should give this event some thought, and we’re hoping you will, too.
Here’s the Scoop: A total solar eclipse is a rare and spectacular event in the US. Only 21 total solar eclipses have crossed the lower 48 states in the entire existence of the United States. The last total solar eclipse visible in Ohio was in 1806. The next total solar eclipse in Ohio will be in the year 2099.
Union County is along the Path of Totality, meaning the sun will be completely obscured by the moon, plunging the daytime sky into darkness for several minutes. In Union County, a partial eclipse will begin about 1:53 pm. Totality will begin about 3:08 pm and is estimated to last 3 minutes and 58 seconds (source: eclipse2024.org). Our friends to the west and north of us in areas like Logan, Hardin and Wyandot Counties are on or near the centerline of the eclipse and will have even more time of total darkness.
Possible Impact on Union County: Because of our location within the Path of Totality, the use of US 33, RT 4 & RT 31 as main arteries for potential eclipse travelers, and given that we are an easy drive from Columbus (who is just outside the path of totality), there is potential for a significant increase in traffic and visitors headed to or through Union County for the eclipse. Heavy traffic creates the potential for gridlock and long delays in the afternoon/evening of Apr. 08 as eclipse viewers head home immediately after the eclipse passes. In this scenario, your normal 15-minute trip home or to the grocery store could result in frustration or a standstill.
What Are We Planning: EMA, law enforcement, EMS, city and county road crews and engineers, the Union County Health Department, and many other partners have been meeting regularly to create plans for the day. While we can’t prevent heavy traffic and all the headaches that can come with it, our first responders and city/county teams are working to mitigate its impacts on life safety response and other essential operations. Here at the Union County Health Department, we are working to educate about temporary campgrounds that may crop up, pop up food vendors, and protecting septic systems and wells from invited or uninvited eclipse parking.
Viewing a Solar Eclipse Safely
Like mom always said, do not look directly at the sun. This is true during a solar eclipse. Solar eclipses should only be viewed with special eclipse glasses or handheld viewers. Sunglasses will not protect your eyes. Always inspect your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer before use; if torn, scratched, or otherwise damaged, discard the device. When purchasing solar glasses, make sure they comply with the ISO 12312-2◄ international standard. Follow this advice from NASA◄ to learn how you can tell if your eclipse glasses are safe for viewing. Always supervise children using solar viewers.
Do NOT look at the Sun through a camera lens, telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while wearing eclipse glasses or using a handheld solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will burn through the filter and cause serious eye injury. When using camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope to view the eclipse, they MUST have a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics or they will instantly cause severe eye injury.
According to NASA, in the few moments when the moon completely obscures the sun’s bright face – during the brief and spectacular period known as totality – you can view a total solar eclipse briefly without proper eye protection. But only in these few moements. (You’ll know it’s safe to view without eye protection when you can no longer see any part of the Sun through eclipse glasses or a solar viewer.) As soon as you see even a little bit of the bright Sun reappear after totality, immediately put your eclipse glasses back on or use a handheld solar viewer to look at the Sun. If you have any doubts, keep your eclipse glasses on to ensure you protect your eyes.
Start thinking now about eye safety to determine the best viewing option for yourself and your loved ones.
Solar Eclipse Glasses:
- Make sure that your eclipse safety glasses or viewers are certified as meeting international standards for safe solar viewing. The current standard for safe solar viewing is ISO 12312-2; your eclipse safety glasses or viewers should have this designation printed on them.
- Take care to purchase your glasses or viewers directly from a recognized manufacturer of certified safe eclipse glasses or a reputable seller that purchased from a recognized manufacturer. AAS Reputable Vendors ◄
- Solar eclipse glasses should be used when watching an annular or partial solar eclipse as well as during total solar eclipses (except during the very brief time the sun is in total eclipse, and even then, use caution).
Additional eclipse eye safety tips are as follows:
- Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.
- Always supervise children using solar filters.
- Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
- Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.
- Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
- Seek expert advice before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device. Note that solar filters must be attached to the front of any telescope, binoculars, camera lens, or other optics.
- If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.
With a potential large influx of people on Monday, April 8 and the weekend leading up to eclips, we are asking residents to prepare ahead. Since we’re Ohioans, we can prepare for this like we would a winter storm. In the few days leading up to the event, fill up your gas tank and gather the supplies, medicines, and items you might need so you don’t have to leave the house for the duration of the event.
Here are a few tips and ideas to plan for in the week prior to the eclipse on Apr. 08, 2024:
- Make sure you have the medicine, medical supplies, food, baby food/diapers you need.
- Make sure your gas tank is full ahead of the big day. With the extra people visiting the county, traveling could take longer using more fuel and there could be an increased demand for gas.
- Have basic first aid or cold relief supplies available.
- Think about what you may have scheduled already for Monday, Apr. 08. The time of totality is expected to be around 3pm with heaviest traffic likely around 3:30-5 pm. Can you work from home or plan to leave work early that day? Consider rescheduling doctor appointments or other obligations that could be moved to another day.
- Check on friends, family, or neighbors the week before the eclipse. See if they need you to pick up anything so they don’t try to run out on Apr. 08.
- Make a communications plan. If we do see a large influx of visitors, cell phones may not work like normal, especially in rural areas with less cell coverage. Think similar to an OSU football game or other large event.
In short, just plan to stay in place, if you are able, and enjoy the eclipse.
Did you know…
Ohio is located within a day’s drive of 60% of the entire US population.
Protect Septic & Wells
This is an exciting event that draws interest from people around the world. You may want to capitalize on the opportunity to allow eclipse parking on your property. Or, visitors may just pull off the road onto your property during the few moements of the eclipse. If you have a septic or well, think about protecting it from damage on the day of the eclipse. If you plan to allow eclipse parking, make sure to block off all components of your septic system and well head (flag or rope/fence off). You do not want cars driving over or parking on your leach field nor do you want them to hit your well or above ground septic components. If your septic or well is near a road, you could have visitors pull off and park along the road. If this would encroach on your septic or well, block off the area.
If you are hosting a viewing party for friends and family coming into the county from out of town, remember they may not be familiar with private sewage systems and private wells. Consider these things:
- If you have a septic system, block it off to make sure no one damages it by parking on it.
- If you have a well, be sure to protect it from someone inadvertently hitting it.
- Make sure visitors know the rules of your septic system. They may not be familiar, so a reminder to not flush materials that will not easily decompose, such as diapers and feminine hygiene products may be helpful.
Some landowners may want to capitalize on the possible influx of visitors by offering eclipse camping on their property. If you plan to allow people to pay to camp (tent or RV), please give our office a call. If you offer more than four campsites, you likely will need a temporary campground permit. We are happy to help you. Please contact us at:
Pop Up Food Vendors
If you want to sell food during the eclipse and do not already have a food license, you may need a temporary food permit. Some home-baked goods that do not require temperature control, such as most cookies, non-cream pies, breads, jams, honey can be sold as a cottage food and do not require a license. But selling foods that require temperature control likely require some type of food license. There are also requirement for licensed food vendors who want to sell products outside their brick and mortar location or licensed food truck. Please contact our office to learn more. If you are hosting an eclipse viewing party and plan to bring in food trucks, please ask them to send you a copy of their food license. Food trucks are licensed in their home jurisdiction and we want to ensure your guests are being served safe food.
National data tells us that whenever there is a large event with people gathering together in a party like atmosphere, there is an increased risk for drug use and overdoses. And according to a research paper◄ examing drug use in two midwestern communities during the 2017 total solar eclipse, those communities likely saw a significant increase in the use of amphetamine and methamphetamine during the rare celestial event. Having narcan, an overdose reversal medication, on hand if you know someone who may be at risk for drug use or having narcan available at public gathering events or venues can help prevent a fatal overdose. Click here◄ to have a free narcan kit mailed to your home or venue. Kits are provided through a Project DAWN grant from the Ohio Department of Health.