2024 Total Solar Eclipse in New York State: Health and Safety
New York is the perfect place to take in the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024 as several regions stretching from Chautauqua-Allegheny through the Thousand Islands will be in the direct path of totality. Because the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse will not be viewed again for another 20 years, New York State is expecting high turn-out in many regions to view this event. Planning to enjoy the eclipse safely is important and may require extra time to plan for support and accessibility for people with disabilities, the elderly or young children. Here's everything you need to know to have a safe and enjoyable eclipse viewing experience as you get a front row seat to this extraordinary cosmic occurrence.
Keep Your Eyes Protected
- Do not look directly at the sun during the eclipse (except during the limited time of totality when the sun is completely covered by the moon—and even then, with caution).
- Sunglasses will NOT protect your eyes.
- If your eyes are exposed to the sun without the appropriate protection, it can cause “eclipse blindness,” which can temporarily or permanently damage your eyes.
- One of the best ways to view a solar eclipse is through a pinhole projector where you look at a projected image made through a pinhole in cardboard paper. Or even easier, grab a colander from the kitchen (not the mesh kind, the one with holes in plastic or metal)!
- Another way to view a solar eclipse without harming your eyes is by using International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 12312-2 certified eclipse glasses from a trusted source. Further information about safe viewing can be found on the American Astronomical Society website.
Don’t Forget the Sunscreen
- Springtime weather can be warm and sunny.
- The sun throughout the day can be very bright, including during the partial phases of a solar eclipse. It can damage your skin, even in cooler temperatures or on a cloudy day.
- To help prevent skin damage, wear a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants if possible when outdoors.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
- Sunscreen should be applied to dry skin at least 15 minutes before going outdoors and again after swimming or perspiring. Get more information about sun safety from the New York State Department of Health.
Be Prepared While on the Road
- Traffic volume is expected to be very high on the day of the eclipse. Plan on staying in one place for the day. If you must be out, allow for plenty of extra travel time.
- Consider using 511NY for current travel conditions. Streets or bridges may be closed and depending on your location you may run into extensive traffic jams. 511NY apps can be downloaded on Apple and Android devices.
- Prepare by bringing water, fuel, medications, and food in your vehicle.
- Do not stop to view the eclipse along the roadway, especially interstates, parkways, and freeways. Choose a safe viewing destination off the road and arrive early to ensure you are ready for the big show!
You May Need Boots and a Jacket
- Springtime weather can be cold, snowy, or have significant rainfall.
- Be prepared with the appropriate clothing/footwear--such as jackets and boots.
- Have alternate plans should the weather present hazards.
- If heading out on the trail to see the eclipse, check trail conditions: the Adirondacks can have snow, icy, and muddy conditions depending on elevation. And carry enough safety gear by checking out the Hike Smart and Winter Hike Smart tips.
Watch Out for Ticks and Mosquitoes
- If you will be camping or outdoors, be aware of ticks, mosquitoes, and plants like poison ivy that can cause skin irritations. Remember the two adages: “Leaves of Three, Leave them Be!” and “Don’t be a Dope and Touch the Hairy Rope.” Even before the leaves are out, the hairy vines of poison ivy will carry the oils that cause skin irritations.
- Cover your skin as completely as possible when in woods or fields. Wear shoes and socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors in a tick habitat.
- Check yourself for ticks during the day and do a thorough check at the end of the day. If you find a tick, use fine-point tweezers to remove it. Learn about Lyme Disease and other diseases carried by ticks from the New York State Department of Health.
- Consider the use of mosquito and tick repellents, which should always be applied according to label directions.
Preventing Wildfires & Enjoying Outdoor Fires Safety
While not common knowledge, wildland fire season in grass and brush in New York can begin in February and last through May. Grass and brush have dried and cured (yellowed) during the winter months along with dry weather patterns in the spring can be just the right combination for a wildfire if there is an ignition source. To minimize the chances of starting a wildfire please remember these things:
Vehicle Safety Tips
- Never park your vehicle in yellow to brown (not green) grass or brush during the spring months. The exhaust pipes from your car can be hot enough to start a fire under your vehicle.
- Make sure your vehicle is in good running condition. Worn brakes can create sparks when stopping.
- When towing a trailer, make sure that the safety chains are attached correctly and not dragging on the ground. Safety chains can be twisted to eliminate extra length. Items like safety chains or mufflers can create sparks when they drag on the ground, starting a wildfire.
Outdoor Fire Safety Tips
- Clear at least 3 feet of burnable material from around any outdoor fire.
- Ensure that any outdoor fires are extinguished and are cold to the touch. Even a small amount of coals or hot ash can get blown into dry grass and start a wildfire.
- Never leave an outdoor fire unattended. It only takes a moment for a small fire to get out of control.
Humans are the cause of about 85% of wildfires in the United States, so don’t be part of that statistic.
And remember what Smokey Bear says, “Only you can prevent wildfires.”