Learn more about staying safe during the solar eclipse.

You’ve already marked your calendar and told all your friends where to meet up. But before you finalize your plans for the 2017 solar eclipse (which will be visible across the United States on August 21), there are some safety concerns to consider.

Witnessing a solar eclipse is one of the most spectacular sights, but it can also be dangerous — especially to your eyes.

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Solar Eclipse Eye Safety and More

Are you fully prepared? Follow these safety tips so you can enjoy this phenomenal event:

Purchase Solar-Viewing Glasses

Even if you’re not in the direct path to view the total eclipse of the sun, you still need proper solar-viewing glasses.

Many people don’t know they can purchase these glasses, and may think they’re a scam. However, solar-viewing glasses are necessary if you want to avoid permanent damage to your eyes from viewing the solar eclipse. Here’s what to look out for when purchasing your solar-viewing glasses:

  • Sunglasses won’t cut it. Normal sunglasses (even if they’re polarized) won’t protect your eyes from the damaging effects of the solar eclipse.
  • Look for a label that says ISO. (This stands for International Organization for Standardization.) Glasses should have an ISO 12312-2 certificate printed on them.
  • Buy from a reputable vendor. The American Astronomical Society recognizes multiple companies that make and sell approved solar-viewing glasses.
  • Ensure your glasses are free of scratches and flaws.
  • Additionally, don’t look at the eclipse through a telescope, binoculars, a camera, or any other lens or device, as NASA explains.

You can find these glasses at local convenience and hardware stores.

Keep in mind: If you’re viewing the eclipse from the Pittsburgh area, you may only get a partial view of the eclipse.

Learn more about the UPMC Vision Institute

Travel Safely

If you’re planning to travel to get a good view of the eclipse, you’re not alone. The Federal Highway Administration expects traffic conditions to be worse than usual because of the rare event.

Be sure to make arrangements for extra travel time. Study your route so you know where the rest stops are and where you can buy gas and food.

Additionally, hotel accommodations will be hard to come by. Consider alternate overnight plans like a campground or staying with friends or relatives. You also don’t want to plan to stop on the side of the highway to view the eclipse — get off the road and safely park your car before taking any photos and avoid traveling when the eclipse is happening.

Prepare for Overwhelming Crowds

An event like the solar eclipse doesn’t often happen. So you should expect parade-like crowds and traffic congestion.

Be sure to get to your viewing location with plenty of time to spare to stake out some space for you and your family or friends. Also, collect the contact information for everyone in your group, and establish a meeting spot on the outskirts of the crowd in case you get separated.

There’s only a little time left before the big event! Make sure you follow these preparations so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy this momentous occasion.

About Urgent Care

Sometimes you need care right away, with no time to wait for an appointment. That’s where UPMC Urgent Care comes in. We offer prompt treatment for illnesses and injuries seven days a week, with no appointment necessary. With locations throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland, you can find immediate care close to you – even if your doctor’s office is closed. Our services include treatment for minor injuries and illnesses, physicals, prescription filling, and flu shots and immunizations. Wait times for minor injuries and illnesses are usually shorter than the Emergency Department, and we accept most major insurance. Visit our website to find a location close to you.