WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina state officials urge Midlands residents to be patient and be safe in the area as more than 1 million visitors are expected to descend to Columbia for the total solar eclipse later this month.
Officials discussed precautions that residents, visitors, and businesses should take to prepare for this unique event happening on Aug. 21 when there will be about two and a half minutes of total darkness in Columbia, Greenville, and Charleston. ?
The joint press conference was held at the Emergency Operations Center in West Columbia and included officials with state emergency management, public safety, and others.
They encouraged everyone to manage their expectations, be patient with traffic and of course, use proper solar eclipse glasses. Two major pieces of advice: do not attempt to travel during the eclipse and do not view the eclipse without the proper eyewear.
"You know, don't look up. Don't look at the sun while driving. Don't stop on the interstates. And again, I can't emphasize enough, do not wear these glasses while you're driving," SCDOT State Traffic Management Engineer Rob Perry said. "They're meant for one purpose, and one purpose only, and that is to look at the sun during an eclipse. They are complete blackout glasses."
For roadways, SCHP said there will be 160 troopers assigned to duty on the day of the eclipse in addition to those already assigned as traffic personnel. In addition to heightened roadway patrols, SCDOT says roadway projects will be suspended for the day of the eclipse.
"Even if you wear the special solar lenses, and you're protecting your eyes, you cannot use them to then look through an unfiltered telescope or binoculars," Dr. Lillian Peak with the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control said. "The rays coming through those lenses will be concentrated, and they can damage those solar lenses and you can get eye damage."