The Solar Eclipse: Preparing for the Worst

Everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock has heard about Monday’s solar eclipse.  For most people this is a once in a lifetime event.  The last time a total solar eclipse crossed the contiguous 48 states from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans was 1918.  In fact, last time a total solar eclipse was seen in the contiguous 48 states was 1979 so most people have not had the opportunity to view a total solar eclipse.

When it comes to a solar eclipse there are some obvious dangers of which people must be aware.  The most obvious danger is blindness.  Staring at the sun can cause solar retinopathy.  According to NASA, the only way to view the sun safely is by using specially designed sun filters (not sunglasses) or number 14 welding glasses.

A less obvious danger will be driving.  Many states have established recommendations for drivers before and during the solar eclipse.  Another less obvious danger will be the actions of pets and wildlife.  Pets may be scared by the eclipse and the commotion being made by humans.  Some experts recommend keeping your animals inside during the eclipse.  Nocturnal animals may come out thinking it is night.

Maybe the least obvious danger from an eclipse, but most dangerous, is a breakdown of the power grid.  Some people believe that in areas where there is a total blackout there will be zero solar energy output from solar panels.  The lack of solar energy will be offset by nuclear power, generators, and other sources.  There could be huge problems when solar panels begin generating power again.  This may cause a surge of power that knocks out the power grid.  Now, the probability of the grid being knocked out may be small, but it’s possible so everyone should be diligent in their preparations.

In the South, whenever there is a chance of snow, everyone thinks they have to buy everything in the grocery store.  Most Southerners believe, even if there is just a chance of snow, we should stock up on food like our lives depend on it.  The same mind-set may be needed for this event.

If the power is out, there will be certain things that everyone will need.  To begin with, everyone will need some source of light.  Flashlights and candles will help people get through nights without power.  Batteries should be stocked in case the grid is down for an extended period of time.

Obviously, having enough water on hand is crucial.  FEMA recommends having a gallon of water per person, per day, and if possible having a two-week supply of water.  Pantries should be well stocked in case there is a disruption to the food supply.  Also, having a good first aid kit at home will be wise.  There is no telling if hospitals will be working or if roads will be travelable.

Since the solar eclipse will occur in August, it will be very hot in much of America so having a way to cool down could mean life or death to many people.  Having a generator would be great but many people can’t afford a generator.  Fortunately, there are cheaper alternatives to cool people down.  Battery powered fans and pools may provide some relief.  Kiddy pools can be bought at Wal-Mart for less than 10 dollars.  A pool and bags of ice can cool down an overheated person.

The probability of a power outage may be small, but it is wise to be prepared for any and all possible dangers.  Everyone should enjoy the eclipse, but be prepared for potential problems.

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