Red Cross standing by for solar eclipse

This shows the solar eclipse path across 12 states on Aug.  21 (American Red Cross graphic)

By Carl Manning
American Red Cross
 Millions of people are making travel plans to see the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse visible in the U.S. in nearly a century, and the American Red Cross is prepared to help them if needed.

The eclipse path is a 70-mile-wide band stretching from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina and crossing over much of Missouri. Officials estimate that more than 7 million people will travel to scores of viewing areas.eclipse sun

The Red Cross is coordinating with various emergency agencies along the path to ensure that it’s collectively prepared for any contingency. Such planning is a part of the collaboration between the Red Cross and emergency management officials with regard to large-scale public events.

For example, the Red Cross has hundreds of emergency shelters on standby in the 12 states touched by the eclipse in case of other emergencies such as severe weather that might occur while travelers are away from home.

The Red Cross also has some tips for eclipse viewers:

Looking directly into the sun is unsafe and can cause lasting eye damage except during the brief time when the moon completely blocks the sun’s brilliance. To learn how to observe the eclipse safely, check out the information from NASA at

For traveling, pack an emergency kit that includes water, non-perishable food, medications, flashlight with extra batteries, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, infant supplies, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items such as toilet paper, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps and emergency contact information.

Know how officials contact people in the area you are planning to visit in case of an emergency. Be sure to let family and friends know where you are going and the route you plan to take.

Arrive to where you plan to watch the eclipse at least a day ahead of time and stay up to date with the weather forecast in the area where you will be.

Create an emergency plan including deciding a location to meet in case someone gets separated from your group, and where to go in case of severe weather.  Also, because cellular service may be overwhelmed, print out directions and have a printed map.

Know where you are staying and phone ahead before leaving to verify your reservation since lodging along the viewing areas mostly are sold out and room prices are extremely high in many areas. Plan to camp if necessary.

Keep your gas tank full so you don’t run out stuck in traffic. A good rule is not to let the tank drop below half filled.

The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe with instant access to long-scale event tips, weather alerts and the location of open Red Cross shelters.

“Red Cross First Aid” is another app that puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid scenarios. Download these apps by searching for “American Red Cross” in your app store or at


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