SOUTH CAROLINA (WCBD) — On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible along a thin, roughly 100 mile-wide path that runs diagonally across America from Oregon to South Carolina. Starting at 2:39 p.m. on Monday, August 21, 2017, viewers who have gathered in areas like Greenville, Columbia and Charleston will experience the longest period of 100% total eclipse for a metro area on the entire East Coast of the United States — ranging from two minutes and 30 seconds to two minutes and 36 seconds of total darkness.
Emergency managers are planning for an estimated influx of more than one million visitors into South Carolina for several days on either side of the eclipse. Expect nearly everything to be above capacity for nearly a week total.
Residents, businesses, and visitors should all be prepared for this historic event by keeping safety in mind.
- Start planning now for where you will go to view the eclipse and make sure you’re prepared.
- Prepare in advance to take care of your normal weekend activities.
- Fill your car up with gas and buy groceries before the weekend.
- Even if you do not plan to participate in any eclipse-related activities, expect heavy traffic and extremely busy
areas in much of South Carolina.
- Welcome to South Carolina! We hope you have a chance to Discover South Carolina and everything our beautiful state has to offer.
- Follow the guidance of local public safety officials and your event organizers. County emergency managers, local police and fire fighters know their communities and how best to direct you to where you would like to go.
- Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination throughout the weekend. Traffic will be heavy with large crowds going to and from events all weekend.
- Once you get to your eclipse event, stay there until well after the eclipse is over.
- If you are driving during the eclipse, KEEP MOVING. Do not stop your vehicle along interstates or any roadway. August in South Carolina means it will be HOT. Be prepared for extreme heat.
- Make sure you have bottled water, sunscreen, first aid kit and protective eyewear like eclipse viewing glasses. Take time to become familiar with our emergency plans and know what to do in the event of a hurricane, an earthquake or any type of severe weather and large-scale emergency. Our website, scemd.org, can help.
- Call 9-1-1 for life-safety emergencies only.
- Make sure family members or friends back home know your schedule, when you are expected to return and your plan if something happens.
- Prepare for a big jump in customers. Grocery stores, gas stations, hotels, restaurants, transportation services, coffee shops, retail stores, urgent care clinics and many other establishments will experience a jump in business.
We encourage them to order goods and schedule staff accordingly.
- Merchants may want to adjust hours beginning August 18 through August 21.
- Many schools are operating on altered schedules on August 21. Be aware of this in case employees need to make schedule adjustments for their children.
- We will have many visitors who are not accustomed to South Carolina’s extreme heat and they will be outside for most of the afternoon on August 21. Plan to have extra water available for customers looking to stock up in advance.
- Be aware that many visitors will be camping in both authorized and unauthorized locations; expect customers who may be primarily interested in using rest rooms.
- Encourage employees to have a full tank of gas prior to the time visitors begin to arrive in the area. Lines for fuel may occur and you’ll want staff to be able to get to work.
- Be prepared for more cash transactions and potential challenges with credit/debit card transactions taking longer than usual because of increased volumes. Consider having tills set up to accommodate more cash transactions.
- Be prepared for cell service overloads; there may be service disruptions due to the increase in visitors using networks. Visitors may have urgent requests to use your business telephone line if they are having trouble with cell service. Decide how you want to handle these requests and make sure employees know what to do.
- Talk to suppliers. Some suppliers may be considering delivery schedule changes due to the event(s). Suppliers may also be looking at how the increased traffic on rural roads may impact delivery times.
- It is advisable that viewers use eclipse glasses (sunglasses are NOT enough) when looking at the sun before and after totality. There may be glasses for sale or for free at viewing locations, but feel free to purchase some on your own and sell them at your store.