It is perhaps a once in a lifetime event: A breathtaking celestial show that will darken the lowcountry completely on Monday, August 21st from approximately 2:41 -2:44 pm. The solar eclipse is expected to bring large sums of people (and traffic) to a virtual standstill within a large radius of Charleston, South Carolina, as the stars – and crickets – emerge to begin their day a little earlier than usual.
An estimated 1-2 million people will travel to the area to view the spectacle, which will be one of only 12 states to experience the totality of the eclipse, spanning from Oregon to South Carolina. In preparation for the event, health and government officials and city planners are advising residents and visitors to be prepared in order to keep order on the roads, ensure public safety, and protect themselves from personal injury:
- Make a plan. Know where you will be on the day of the eclipse and how you plan to get there. Numerous places around Charleston will be hosting viewing parties, but anticipate large crowds and difficulty driving into the city and parking on the day.
- Wherever you plan to be for the eclipse viewing, be sure that the location is structurally sound. Roof tops are a popular venue, but many (such as parking garage roofs) are not built to withstand the weight of large crowds.
- It is recommended that residents try to avoid commuting during the noon-midday eclipse rush due to traffic concerns. Consider a safe spot within walking distance from your home or work when the sun will be visible during the hours of 1-3pm; do a practice run in the days before August 21st to find an ideal location.
- DO NOT look directly at the sun or eclipse at any point. Viewing the eclipse without certified protective glasses can cause permanent vision impairment or blindness. Often, any ocular damage experienced will occur in the days or weeks following the viewing. To order certified eclipse viewing glasses, click here for a list of official brands.
- If small children will be accompanying you for the viewing, be extra vigilant. Be sure to strictly enforce wearing safety glasses at all times due to the particular sensitivity of their eyes. Better yet, attempt these child-friendly viewing projects instead.
- Be aware that in the days leading up to the eclipse, traffic could mimic that of a hurricane-event evacuation. Standstill and hours-long traffic is expected around area highways.
- Stock up. Treat the event similar to hurricane prep: have plenty of water, gasoline, and food supplies in the event that any shortage occurs due to the volume of people visiting the lowcountry.
- Have a communication plan. Anticipate cell-phone service to be limited or totally disrupted during the eclipse due to the volume of people within close proximity.
- Alert people. Let others in the community know – particularly the elderly- that the event will be taking place. Many will not realize an eclipse will darken the skies midday and they may panic or call 911. Help educate your neighbors and community members on what to expect.
For more information, view the following resources:
Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic is a free clinic in Charleston, SC, that provides free medical care to eligible patients, just like any family practitioner or internist. The Free Clinic serves uninsured adults living at or below 200 % of the Federal poverty level who live or work on Johns, Wadmalaw or James Islands. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.