Idaho Prepares for the 2017 Great American Eclipse

Solar eclipse over Boise mountains

Idaho might seem like it’s being invaded, what with as many as 500,000 out-of-state visitors expected to cross our borders to get front row seats to the Great American Eclipse. Rural areas that normally host small populations like Weiser, Stanley, or Donnelly are being overrun with spectators looking for their own patch of open sky.

Gas prices are surging, and fuel is predicted to run out in many places. Campsites, hotel rooms, and car rentals have long been snatched up, even with rates that have increased by as much as 600 percent!

We have already seen increased traffic, and our neighbors in Oregon experienced backups for miles several days before the eclipse. Imagine the worst traffic you’ve ever seen in Idaho — it’s definitely going to be worse than that, particularly right after the event.

Protect Your Vision

Solar eclipse glasses in use

It shouldn’t need to be stated that you shouldn’t look directly into the sun, but…don’t stare at the sun during the eclipse. Despite all warnings or common sense, we are sure to have a number of eye injuries occur as people look upward for this spectacular sight.

Doing so without adequate eye protection might leave your eyesight less than spectacular.

While the risk of complete blindness is overstated, it takes only seconds to do permanent damage to your eyes. Solar retinopathy occurs when bright light overwhelms the light-sensitive cells of the retina. As it can sometimes be painless, many don’t even realize the damage that has been done to their eyes.

Normally, we reflexively try to protect our eyes from the sun’s bright light. During an eclipse, the coverage makes it less uncomfortable to try and sneak a peak. Anyone planning to view the eclipse should wear approved eye protection, taking special care with small children and even pets.

How do I know if my glasses are safe for viewing the eclipse?

Glasses meant for viewing the solar eclipse safely can be found all over the Treasure Valley, but not all glasses are safe to use.

Only use glasses that are verified safe by NASA or the American Astronomical Society (AAS). This also applies to things like solar camera filters.

How do you know if your glasses are safe? Start by looking for an ISO certification number — 12312-2 — printed directly on them. If your glasses lack that certification, don’t use them.

But that isn’t enough.

Widespread recalls have been made, like this one by Amazon, for protective glasses that are counterfeit. While some legitimate products were caught in the Amazon recall, it’s better to play it safe than be sorry.

You should also do your due diligence by checking the manufacturer of the glasses. The AAS has published a list on their site of approved manufacturers of lenses and filters that have been verified and tested to meet safety standards for solar viewing.

Prepare for Eclipse Chaos

Boise solar eclipse path

If you plan on staying in the area, don’t be too troubled. Boise might not be in the path of total eclipse coverage, but at 99% coverage, you won’t know the difference.

We won’t know exactly what’s going to happen until the big day, but expect traffic to be a nightmare all through the weekend and into next week, particularly for the 24 hours after the eclipse. Police, fire, medical, and the Idaho Transportation Department are preparing to have all hands on deck.

Here are a few things you should do to stay safe:

  • Gas up early. Fuel prices will only rise with the increased demand, and in remote places fuel is projected to run out.
  • Don’t park your car on the shoulder in traffic or during the eclipse. It might seem like the right thing to do, but emergency responders will need to get through.
  • Maintain your vehicle. There are bound to be countless breakdowns from cars overheating due to extended delays in traffic. Don’t let it be you.
  • Be careful with fire. With hot, dry conditions and a massive surplus of visitors unfamiliar with the area, we are at an extreme risk for fire.
  • Stay on the road. Related to the above point, hot cars that pull off of approved surfaces and into grass to view the eclipse could start fires.
  • Be prepared. If you travel, expect delays, Bring extra food, water, and shade with you in case you are unfortunate enough to get stuck somewhere.

The Modern Dental team is very excited for the 2017 Great American Eclipse, but we do hope that together we can all keep the chaos in check and make this celestial show fun and safe. Happy viewing!

 

-Dr. Wagner

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