South Carolina is one of 14 states in the path of totality for August’s total solar eclipse and the rare event is expected to draw more than one million visitors to the area.
The eclipse on Aug. 21 will start in the northwestern part of the U.S. and travel southeast, casting the Upstate into darkness around 2:40 p.m. Between traffic, crowds and sun risks, authorities want to make sure communities are prepared for the event.
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The South Carolina Emergency Management Department said residents should expect heavy traffic and extremely busy areas across the state.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol advised work commuters to plan alternate routes to work on the day of the eclipse and leave early to allow extra commute time.
Troopers said drivers should make sure they have a full tank of gas before leaving for their destinations. SCEMD recommended residents fill up their tanks and buy groceries before the weekend leading into the eclipse.
For drivers on the road during the totality of the eclipse, SCEMD said to keep moving and do not stop the vehicle. Highway Patrol warned people to be aware of disoriented or distracted drivers on the roadway.
After the eclipse, emergency officials suggested staying at the viewing location until “well after” the eclipse is over.
With the number of guests flooding into the state for the eclipse, SCEMD said businesses should brace themselves for a surge of customers, staffing accordingly. Grocery stores, gas stations, hotels, restaurants, transportation services and urgent care clinics are among the facilities that are expected to see a jump in business.
The large number of people in South Carolina is expected to overload cell services, causing possible disruptions to networks.
Visitors to the state are encouraged to familiarize themselves with state emergency plans in the event of a hurricane, earthquake or severe weather during the days before or after the eclipse.
SUN AND HEAT RISKS
Emergency officials are warning eclipse viewers to be prepared for extreme heat during the eclipse weekend. Visitors and residents spending time outdoors are encouraged to carry bottled water, sunscreen, medications and a first aid kit.
Troopers said 911 should be reserved for life-saving emergencies only.
Spectators of the solar events also need to be equipped with protective eyewear such as eclipse viewing glasses. Sunglasses DO NOT provide the correct protection for watching the eclipse.
The Greenville Health System’s Eye Institute in Spartanburg said there are three specific indicators viewers should look for on their protective eyewear to make sure it is appropriate for the eclipse:
- The International Organization for Standardization or “ISO”
- The European Commissions’ mark of approval or “CE”
- These numbers: 12312-2
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