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Health Alert: Prepare for the Solar Eclipse (April 8, 2024)

(ITHACA, NY, March 21, 2024) – Tompkins County Whole Health (TCWH) is alerting the community to important safety guidance regarding the upcoming solar eclipse that will occur on Monday, April 8, 2024. The eclipse is expected to begin at approximately 2:00 pm and end by 4:30 pm, with the full total eclipse occurring in our area between 3:15 pm-3:30 pm.

While Tompkins County falls outside of the “zone of totality,” the safety guidance remains the same, as the impact of looking at the sun while in a partial eclipse will still be damaging to the eyes without proper safety equipment. 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.

By adhering to the following safety steps, we can all safely enjoy this unique event in our region.   

Keep Your Eyes Protected

  • Do not look directly at the sun during the eclipse. During the limited time of totality when the sun is completely covered by the moon it can be looked at with caution. However, unless you travel to view the eclipse within the “zone of totality,” in Tompkins County, we will only see a partial eclipse and the sun will not be completely covered by the moon.
  • Sunglasses will NOT protect your eyes. Use International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 12312-2 certified eclipse glasses from a trusted source. Further information about safe viewing, including a list of eclipse glasses suppliers, can be found on the American Astronomical Society website.
  • Certified eclipse glasses are available for free, while supplies last, at all Tompkins County libraries. Call or visit your local library to pick up free certified eclipse glasses and find out about upcoming eclipse-related events and activities.
  • Indirect Viewing Techniques: With the sun behind you, pass sunlight through a small opening (for example, a hole punched in an index card) and project a solar image onto a nearby surface (for example, another card, a wall, or the ground). 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).

Don’t Forget the Sunscreen

  • 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.

Be Prepared While on the Road

  • Traffic volume is expected to be very high on the day of the eclipse, especially after the eclipse has finished and travelers are leaving the area in the later part of the afternoon/early evening. Please use extreme caution if you must be on the road during the hours of the eclipse.
  • 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!
  • In the event of disruptions in cell phone service due to high volume of cell tower use, it is recommended you take a paper map with you if driving to unfamiliar areas, in case service disruptions impact your ability to rely on a mobile GPS system.

In addition to protecting your eyes and skin, and staying safe while on the road, the following safety guidance is being shared for those who are planning to travel for the event.

Hiking/Camping Guidance

  • If heading out on the trail to see the eclipse, check hiking trail conditions which 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.
  • 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. 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.

Watch Out for Ticks and Mosquitoes

  • If you will be camping or hiking, 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.
  • Consider the use of mosquito and tick repellents, which should always be applied according to label directions.

For additional information about the solar eclipse in New York State, visit: and don’t forget to reach out to your local library for eclipse events and free certified eclipse glasses.


Tompkins County Whole Health envisions a future where every person in Tompkins County can achieve wellness. Find us online at, and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @TCWholeHealth. Get Whole Health updates or other county announcements via email or text, sign up here.

Media contact: Shannon Alvord,