Story by Spc. Chelsea Baker
When first responders and planners support an event of this magnitude, there are many things to take into consideration with an estimated 500 million people expected to be out viewing the solar eclipse in total or partial form. For the South Carolina National Guard as well as South Carolina Emergency Management Division their biggest concern is safety.
“This is an exciting time for our state during this historic event,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E Livingston, Jr., the adjutant general of South Carolina. “We urge everyone to get to your destination well before the eclipse so you can enjoy it with your family and friends and be safely off the roadways.”
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division is encouraging all residents to have a plan in place well before the solar eclipse. State agencies and local officials have been working together in anticipation of this event and will be on duty as they expect to welcome thousands of tourists to South Carolina.
Major Rob Woods, Highway Patrol Emergency Management Coordinator for the Department of Public Safety said, “We want to assure the citizens of South Carolina that the department of public safety is working carefully with its state partners and with local officials to prepare for traffic issues surrounding the eclipse and ensure a safe and memorable experience for South Carolina citizens and visitors.”
Other recommended safety guidelines for motorists are to be patient with heavier traffic flow, don’t stop in the middle of the roads or highways to view the eclipse and do not wear solar eclipse glasses while driving.
The South Carolina National Guard’s Soldiers and Airmen are ready if additional resources are requested to support the state and first responders. To raise awareness about this event, the South Carolina National Guard Safety Office distributed 10,000 solar eclipse safety glasses to the troops.
“We wanted to remind everyone about vision safety and to not look directly at the sun during the solar eclipse,” said Staff Sgt. Terry Addis, safety specialist. “Safety glasses are available in almost every retail outlet and gas station around the state now as this date gets closer.”
As August 21 is a duty day for the South Carolina National Guard, over 1,000 Soldiers and Airmen will be working and training. Supervisors are integrating a pause in routine around 2 p.m. to ensure employees can take part in observing the solar eclipse.
“We are excited about this event and because we have been planning for it, our safety officials are ready to support the influx of visitors to our state,” said Livingston. “Team South Carolina is prepared and ready as we always are.”