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Northumberland County, local municipalities, and the Health Unit advise residents to prepare for rare total Solar Eclipse

Cobourg, ON – March 4, 2024 – On Monday, April 8, 2024, Northumberland will witness a rare celestial event as a total solar eclipse appears in our skies. Northumberland County, together with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit, and local municipalities are teaming up to ensure residents are prepared to safely enjoy this extraordinary phenomenon.

"As we approach the date of the solar eclipse, it's crucial for everyone to plan ahead and be prepared,” emphasizes County Warden Brian Ostrander. “Residents intending to view the eclipse should consider a suitable viewing area ahead of time. Also, with the potential for a high number of visitors to our area, we are reminding residents about the importance of having necessary supplies, including those for a complete emergency kit.

“While unlikely, were an emergency to happen in our community during this period, the increased number of people in the area could put a strain on our road network, emergency and health care services, and other infrastructure. It is important for people to have the resources in place to be self-sufficient during the first 72 hours of an emergency, to enable the most effective deployment of emergency resources during such an instance.”

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly between the Earth and the Sun, casting its shadow on the Earth's surface. A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon completely blocks the face of the Sun – visible to people in the ‘Path of Totality’. The last total eclipse in our area was 400 years ago and the next total eclipse will not come around again until 2399. Because of its rarity, many people will be eager to get a look at the eclipse, but residents should always prioritize personal safety, especially when it involves looking at the sun.

"It is important to remember that looking at the sun anytime is dangerous, and without certified glasses that contain specialized filters your eyes could suffer retinal burns, blurred vision and vision loss," says Bernie Mayer, Manager of Environmental Health with the HKPR District Health Unit. "By securing proper eye protection, you can safely experience this rare solar eclipse event. Sunglasses – even high-quality ones – will not suffice. Although this can be an exciting and memorable time, please remember that your personal safety comes first."

The Path of Totality for the 2024 eclipse will only be approximately 180kms wide. On the afternoon of April 8, the total eclipse will be visible in the lower part of Northumberland along the shores of Lake Ontario as it travels through the Path of Totality.  Residents further north, above Baltimore and Brighton, will witness a partial eclipse of the sun. Glasses with specialized filters, adhering to the ISO 12312-2 international standard, should be worn throughout the eclipse, regardless of your location in Northumberland County. Certified solar eclipse glasses are thousands of times darker than regular sunglasses.

The eclipse will gradually begin at 2:06 pm and will last for about two hours. Full totality, where complete darkness occurs, will start in affected areas around 3:20 pm and last for just under two minutes. During the eclipse, residents can expect a gradual dimming of natural light and a temporary drop in temperature as the sun's heat is partially blocked by the moon's shadow.

Important safety considerations for viewing the eclipse

  • Never look directly at the Sun without proper eye protection, even during partial phases of the eclipse. Certified glasses adhering to the ISO 12312-2 international standard should be worn to prevent eye damage. Inspect glasses for damage before use, and discard if scratched, punctured, or older than three years.
  • To ensure a safe and enjoyable viewing experience, residents are encouraged to identify a safe and unobstructed location, check local viewing times, and arrive early to set up equipment and come prepared with supplies. If you plan to view the solar eclipse with friends and family, remember to monitor your respiratory symptoms beforehand to avoid spreading illness to others.
  • Northumberland County, in partnership with local municipalities and the HKPR District Health Unit, has developed a comprehensive webpage at Northumberland.ca/NoCoEclipse. The site offers information on how to safely view the eclipse and the best ways to prepare and plan ahead to ensure you can have a safe and memorable viewing experience.

Additional notes for editors

  • The Path of Totality will impact certain areas of Northumberland County, providing residents with a unique opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse.
  • Large portions of Ontario, including Toronto, will not be in the Path of Totality and it is possible that a large number of visitors may travel to our area creating road congestion, impacting cell service, and increasing demands on emergency services.
  • Residents are advised to be prepared with necessary supplies on the day, including an updated emergency preparedness kit at-hand.
  • It is not safe to look at the Sun without eye protection. Looking at even a small sliver before or after the eclipse without proper eye protection can be harmful to your vision. Since the retinas of the eyes do not have pain sensors, eye damage from looking at the Sun it may take several hours to notice and include retinal burns, blurred vision and loss of eyesight.
  • Glasses with specialized filters adhering to the ISO 12312-2 international standard should be worn to prevent eye damage. Sunglasses are not safe viewing eye-wear. Certified solar eclipse glasses are thousands of times darker than regular sunglasses.

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