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KU-EHS August Safety Tip, Special Edition: Make Sure Employees View the Eclipse Safely

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The moon will cross in front of the sun on Monday, August 21, just after 1:00 p.m. Eastern—prime time for a workplace eclipse viewing party. In case your employees want to step outside and enjoy this moment of planetary drama, make sure to share a few tips for safely enjoying the 2017 total solar eclipse.

During the eclipse, skies will darken and stars will twinkle. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says the only safe way to look directly at the sun is through special solar filters found in eclipse glasses and hand-held solar viewers. AAO advises looking for glasses with the certification insignia ISO 12312-2.

Optometry professor Dr. Ralph Chou explains, “The concern over improper viewing of the sun during an eclipse is for the development of ‘eclipse blindness’ or retinal burns.” Children and young adults are most at risk. The aging process can provide a natural filtering in older people, he says.

According to NASA, “Looking directly at the sun is unsafe, except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face.”

Share these eclipse-watching do’s and don’ts:

  • Do not look directly at the sun.
  • Do not use homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark sunglasses.
  • Use special purpose solar filters such as eclipse glasses and follow the instructions.
  • In any stage of the eclipse, don’t look at the sun through a camera, telescope, binocular, or another device. Never use solar filters with these devices as the concentrated rays can cause serious eye injury.
  • Inspect your solar filter before using it; if it is scratched or damaged, discard it.

The experts say everyone in America will see at least a partial eclipse. Those living inside a 70-mile stretch known as the “path of totality” will see the total eclipse when the moon fully covers the sun. NASA projects the longest duration of totality will be near Carbondale, Illinois for a period of about 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Times for partial eclipse vary depending on your location.

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