Solar Eclipse Preparedness

The Solar Eclipse is coming!

You may be hearing about the crowds that will be coming to our region due to the expected excellent viewing conditions for the Solar Eclipse on August 21. No one knows how many additional people will be flocking to our communities and rural areas. County officials believe there will be record-breaking numbers of visitors.

Our health departments, sheriff and police departments and other government officials in Central Oregon have been busy predicting and planning for a wide range of issues. Concerns include driving times or gridlock, availability of gasoline, bandwidth for cell service, and timely availability of just about anything you might usually be able to buy. Utilities and services that we can usually rely upon, might be stretched thin or interrupted for short periods of time.

“Eclipsers” are expected to begin to arrive in significant numbers several days to a week ahead of the Solar Eclipse and most are expected to be on their way home within one or two days after the event. Use the tips below to plan and prepare to be responsible, resourceful, and resilient.

Planning ahead with some realistic expectations to ride this out with good humor and a few deep breaths is a responsible thing to do for yourself, your family and your neighbors. Consider the possibility of long lines or limited ability to drive a car and to purchase items you and your family need (food, Rx, personal hygiene supplies, pet food, etc.) There likely will be reduced access to medical professionals and electronic communication/entertainment devises. Make plans that will have opportunities for flexibility with schedules and activities and include ways to reduce or lower stress for individuals and families.

All the additional people will likely strain on our resources and infrastructures prompted a flashback for me to the 1973 gasoline shortage in our country. During that time, we were allowed to purchase gasoline on even or odd days of the month based on the last number of the car’s license plate. Lines were blocks long and it was not unusual to spend hours in line waiting to get service. We had advance education and could plan for the emergency. This allowed us to discuss resourceful strategies with our families and neighbors, and to patiently and good-naturedly experience a temporary disruption in our lifestyles.

Important Tips:

Meet with your family, soon, and discuss the importance of preparing for an emergency. Knowing and naming an emergency, then planning for, and practicing actions will empower adults and especially children with the ability to respond in a positive, resourceful way. If you have a family practice event for up to three days, you will be able to find your family strengths and weaknesses, and then work out the “bugs” for the days leading up to and after the Eclipse.

See Quick Tips:

Solar Eclipse – Be Responsible, Resourceful and Resilient: Points to Consider for Preparation

Eclipse Glasses

Many stores are offering inexpensive, special eclipse-viewing glasses that block harmful light that can damage your vision. Regular sunglasses will not protect your eyes from permanent damage. Look for the ISO 12312-2 international standard on eclipse glasses, in brands such as Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17. (https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety).

Communication Plan

FEMA has great Family Communication Plan resources for emergencies. Go to www.ready.gov/kids  to find check sheets, worksheets and some interactive games. The “Prepare! Resource Guide” from the American Red Cross is full of helpful information, too. You may also be interested in some of the Red Cross Alert Apps.

Even with extra cell towers being set up for the Eclipse, there may still be some bandwidth issues for cell phone users. Set up and practice texting codes with the family that may still get through like IMOK (I am okay) or IMAGP (I am at Gramma Pat’s). Paper and pencil or a marker – the old-fashioned method for messages – and a designated container or rock to hold it down at your family meeting site – can be a reliable back-up plan.

Sign up for your local alert system. In Deschutes County, go to https://www.deschutes.org/911/page/sign-deschutes-emergency-alerts. In Crook County, visit http://www.alertcrookcounty.org/. In Jefferson and Wheeler Counties go to http://www.co.jefferson.or.us/ and scroll to the Frontier Regional Alert icon. In Warm Springs, tune in to KWSO, 91.9 FM. If you have questions, you can call the Emergency Manager at your county Sheriff’s Department.

Transportation Plan

It is likely that on Monday, August 21, the day of the Solar Eclipse, there will be some heavier traffic than most of our summer Mondays. Days before and after the Eclipse could have significant congestion, too. Gasoline may become scarce as more people arrive or pass through to other locations. Fill up your tank, keep it filled and only drive when necessary. With increased traffic, there is an expected increase in traffic accidents, so there could be some long waits. Keep a 24-hour emergency kit in your car including water and some food in case you are caught for an extra 2, 4 or 6 hours while trying to get to your destination.

Do you have an alternative plan to get to get around that does not require 4-wheeled vehicles that may be stalled in gridlock? Will you get a bike out for general transportation needs? Can you outfit a bicycle with baskets to carry things you need to transport? Maybe the distance you need to travel is walkable. If these are not your regular ways of getting around, remember to take plenty of water and use sun protection. Perhaps a light raincoat should go in your daypack if a storm is expected to blow through in the afternoon. A small first aid kit will be welcome if you have a hot spot on your foot – you can apply tape or a band aid-type strip to prevent a blister.

Medical Plan

Along with an expected increase in traffic accidents and a higher risk of wild fire that may be caused by those unfamiliar with extreme fire hazard conditions in August, our first responders and medical personnel are expected to be stretched pretty thin. Now is the time to brush up on basic first aid or take a class. Be extra careful to keep yourself and your family healthy. This is not the time to take risky chances.

Menu Plan

Resources such as food, water and basic daily living supplies will be in high demand with a surge of people coming from all around. Be resilient, plan ahead and plan for the unexpected, including a run on the stores resulting in less availability. Creating a 10-day meal plan will help feed your family while avoiding the crowds and possible empty shelves in grocery stores. Plan and shop accordingly, can your own food, or purchase enough non-perishable foods to last you 10 days or more. Foods such as canned soups, fruits, vegetables, meat and fish will be easy to store. Pantry staples such as dried fruit, crackers and peanut butter make good snacks. Canned and dried foods will especially come in handy in case of a power outage. What about milk? Let your family explore canned, evaporated milk or fortified, boxed rice, soy or almond (etc.) milks to find out their preferences in an emergency.

OSU Extension has two very useful handouts: Food Storage for Emergencies, SP 50-833 and Water Storage for Emergencies, SP 50-835. Both are practical, easy-to-use and budget-friendly. Find them at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/fch/food-storage or contact your local county OSU Extension office for printed copies. Up-to-date, safe recipes that taste great with thorough canning, drying and freezing directions are on Oregon State University’s Food Preservation Publication web page: http://extension.oregonstate.edu/fch/food-preservation. When the crowds begin to make it difficult to get around or store supplies that you like become scarce, implement your emergency plan.

Healthy eating will help you and your family be less stressed and more resilient in an emergency. Extra added sugars can cause mood and energy swings that make it hard to sustain a positive outlook. It is also important to include the whole family in meal planning decisions, making sure there is healthy food everyone will eat. ChooseMyPlate.gov is an excellent resource to plan healthy meals with tips and reminders. There are menu planning tools such as a grocery list by department and weeklong menu planning templates. Of course, you will want to include family favorites and make substitutions with shelf-stable ingredients. Look at some of these great resources to get you started: Look for Sample 2-Week Menus, Plan Your Weekly Meals template, Pantry Staples List, and 10 Tips to Building a Healthy Meal, a part of the 10 Tips Nutrition series with lots of helpful tips. There are many more tools on ChooseMyPlate.gov, such as Super Tracker. It is an interactive, web-based planning and tracking manager that will help you meet your nutrition goals and targets.

Also, keep some cash on hand in case of a power outage when credit cards will not work.

Be Resilient

Being flexible during stressful times shows resilience. A resilient person or family has a positive attitude. Make your plans together and practice walking or biking to appointments or sports practices.

Keeping perspective will help with your planning and weathering the unusual circumstances.

Network with your neighbors to see where you can share resources or there might be a need for extra supports.

Improve coping skills of the mind with relaxation, sleep and deep breathing and the body with regular exercise and healthy eating.

Find a new or non-electronic “normal” to relax together. Learn and practice some card games that you can play at home or in the car, if you experience a delay. Cribbage, canasta or pinochle are easy to learn, require some practice and can divert your focus on the emergency to a fun pastime with family or friends. Go Fish and Concentration are great card games for younger children. Avoid gambling, though, as that can increase stress for some players.

Questions?

Would you like more information or just be able to ask some questions? Look for resources from OSU Extension to help you and your family prepare to be Responsible, Resourceful and Resilient while you enjoy the 2017 Solar Eclipse in the best location in the world!

For more information and ideas:

American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/get-help

Crook County Emergency Management http://sheriff.co.crook.or.us/Divisions/EmergencyManagement/tabid/2368/Default.aspx

Crook County Public Health Preparedness http://co.crook.or.us/Departments/HealthDepartment/PublicHealthPreparedness/tabid/2182/Default.aspx

Deschutes County Emergency Management https://sheriff.deschutes.org/divisions/special-services/emergency-management/

Deschutes County Emergency Preparedness https://www.deschutes.org/health/page/emergency-preparedness 

Federal Emergency Management Agency   www.FEMA.gov www.Ready.gov  

Menu Planning www.Choosemyplate.gov  

Sample 2-Week Menus: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/budget-sample-two-week-menus

Plan Your Weekly Meals (Weekly Calendar): https://www.choosemyplate.gov/budget-weekly-meals

Make a Grocery List:  https://www.choosemyplate.gov/budget-grocery-list

Oregon Office of Emergency Management: www.Oregon.gov/OEM

Oregon State University Extension Food Preservation, Food Safety and Food Storage links at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/community/food-preservation

Oregon State University Extension County offices

• Crook County office, 498 SE Lynn Blvd, Prineville, Oregon, 541-447-6228 http://extension.oregonstate.edu/crook/

• Deschutes County office, 3893 SW Airport Way, Redmond, OR 541-548-6088 http://extension.oregonstate.edu/deschutes/

• Jefferson County office, 850 NW Dogwood Lane, Madras, Oregon, 541-475-7101 http://extension.oregonstate.edu/jefferson/

• Warm Springs office, 1110 Wasco Street, Warm Springs, Oregon, 541-553-3238 http://extension.oregonstate.edu/warmsprings

 

For more information, please contact:

Glenda Hyde
Associate Professor (Practice)

Email: Glenda Hyde

Oregon State University Extension/Deschutes County
3893 SW Airport Way
Redmond, Oregon 97756-8697
Telephone: 541-548-6088
Fax: 541-548-8919