Mar 25, 2016

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Important Eclipse Safety For Parents And Teachers

Important Eclipse Safety For Parents And Teachers

Providing the opportunity for children in the United States to view a very rare total eclipse across the center of the country is an amazing opportunity. This not only interesting and exciting, but it is a great teachable moment. The only issue that parents and teachers often worry about is how to manage eclipse safety.

There is really only one eye eclipse safety issue to worry about when viewing a total or a partial eclipse. Children are especially prone to trying to sneak a look at the sun before and after the total eclipse, which is when the damage can easily occur to the eyes.

There is no risk of looking at the sun directly during the full eclipse. The issue comes with an adult knowing when to tell the children to put their eclipse glasses back on. According to NASA experts, as just as little as 1% of the sun becoming visible again can cause damage to the eye.

The Damage

The need for eclipse safety has to do with damage to the retina of the eye. In the case of looking at the sun during an eclipse, the second that the UV, infrared and high-intensity visible light hits the eye, usually after the moon moves across the sun, causes a burn to the retina. This UV radiation burn can be temporary, as it is in most cases, but it can be permanent as well.

Even with just a second or two of exposure the risk increases for permanent loss of vision, which is why eclipse safety glasses or filters are so critical.

Explain to Children

In simple, age-appropriate language parents and teachers need to talk to children well in advance of the eclipse. It is also a good idea to allow the children to use the glasses or the hand held devices a few times before the eclipse to take the novelty factor out of the situation.

If you are going to allow the children to take off the glasses or put down the hand held lens during the minute or two of the full eclipse, practice giving a signal and having all the children immediately put on their glasses or start using the handhelds.

The more you practice eclipse safety with the children, particularly if you have more than one child or as a teacher with a larger group, the more your children will be comfortable with the process. This also helps children to have the time to understand eye safety and how to enjoy amazing things in the natural world while staying safe.

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