The excitement of the upcoming eclipse can be heard across the nation. The radio and news stations are keeping tabs on the weather and hoping for clear skies on August 21st. While we are all looking forward to the possible two minutes and 40 seconds where the sun will be completely covered, other cities have been focusing on other aspects of the eclipse.
As preppers, we often think of our family, friends and property when it comes to being prepared. We know that businesses, cities, counties and states look at possible disasters and do their best to mitigate any potential problems. But how could an eclipse be a concern to cities across America? Idaho Falls, Idaho is a quiet city of about 60,000. They have been planning for the eclipse since last December. It seems like a long time to prepare for something that only lasts a few minutes. Idaho Falls is very easy to travel to. If you live in California, Arizona, Nevada or the other surrounding states, it is an easy drive. The skies are clear and there is an abundance of natural beauty. It is an inexpensive and nice town to visit.
What the city of Idaho Falls realized is that they could have 150,000 visitors, maybe more, show up for the eclipse. We don’t need to live in Idaho Falls to learn from their preparation. How does a city and its citizens prepare for that many people?
First responders and traffic
The emergency management department knows the importance of their first responders. All responders will be working the week of the eclipse. First responders will be spread out over the city to have fast access to any area they may be called. Response times will be late because of the increased traffic. The infrastructure works well for the size of the population now, but when you double or triple that number, you need to plan for delays. Educating the public has been one method that could help prevent some of these delays. The citizens have been reminded about when they should and shouldn’t call 911. Each fire station will have a first aid station available to help. Learn more about how authorities respond to disasters.
Check your preps: Are you prepared to do first aid if medical help isn’t available? What education and supplies do you need to have to help yourself and your loved ones?
Wild fires at the end of summer are always a possibility. There will be an Area Command along with command centers in the communities of eastern Idaho. This will allow the firefighters to travel to any area they may be called to. Even with burn bans, fires can start by parking a hot vehicle in tall grass and there will almost certainly be careless campers. Communication with the community can be done in advance with citizens, but it is difficult to educate those who are coming into town. Visitors are going to be encouraged to think of the fire risk and how they can prevent fires. Do you have what is needed to survive a wild fire?
Check your preps: Is your home prepared for a small fire? Do you have fire extinguishers located in the proper areas in your home?
The following advice is from the Eastern Idaho Public Health and the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. The advice is valid for any of us outside Idaho and for can be applied to other situations.
- You will be outdoors, so use sunscreen. Have the proper eye-wear that is certified by ISO if you are planning on viewing the solar eclipse.
- There could be ticks, mosquitoes and other insects. Many carry disease, so wear insect repellent and read this article about dealing with mosquitoes.
- Stock up on groceries and other items. Plan easy-to-prepare meals. It may not be easy to get in and out of grocery stores quickly.
- If you will be out camping or hiking, take note of your surroundings and be aware of any wildlife.
- Check your family’s immunization records. With the influx of visitors there is always a chance of communicable disease. Keeping up to date of your immunizations is one way to protect yourself. Washing your hands is one other easy way to prevent illness.
- Cell phones may not work, your ability to access maps may not work. In the Eastern Idaho area, “travel will be reduced to one lane in each direction on four-lane highways and to one lane on two-lane routes, with signs or flaggers directing traffic through the work zones.”
- Consider a paper map and plan alternative directions. Red here to learn more about the importance of using a map.
- Always be aware of where you park and where you are at. Are you blocking access for emergency vehicles, are you in areas of potential danger?
- Carry extra supplies with you in your vehicle. You may be stuck somewhere longer than you plan. Purchase a battery operated radio to hear any emergency updates. Here is an easy to use, durable radio
- Learn the area, know where local medical offices, hospitals, fire and police departments.
- Keep a full tank of gas. Gas prices will also be increasing in the area. Tune in and listen to local radio stations for up to date information and keep cash on hand.
- Be considerate about the property of others. Don’t trespass or assume that you can park or camp anywhere.
- Check the cities website for information about utilities, city services and other community information.
- Have family members download the Life 360 app or something similar to keep tabs on each others’ locations. Families and groups get separated all the time in large crowds, and this might be very helpful. Also have a meetup location in case of separation.
Whether you are planning on leaving your home to view the eclipse, or any other event, the information is still valid. Now is a good time to check your supplies and think about the many ways you can prepare.