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9 solar eclipse safety tips & risk concerns you need to know for Aug. 21

This March 9, 2016 file photo shows a total solar eclipse in Belitung, Indonesia. (AP Photo, File)


The United States will experience its first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse since 1918, on Monday, August 21.

An estimated 500 million people across North America will be impacted as the moon passes between the sun and Earth in the 70-mile wide path of the total eclipse.

Path of totality

The path of totality will track across the U.S. from the Northwest to the Southeast through these states: Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The shadow outside that track will affect North and Central America, parts of South America and northwestern Europe.

Related: Summer weather safety risks & preparation

The first point of contact will be at Lincoln Beach, Oregon, at 9:05 a.m. PDT. Totality begins there at 10:16 a.m. PDT.  Over the next hour and a half, it will cross through all 12 states. The total eclipse will end near Charleston, South Carolina, at 2:48 p.m. EDT.

From there, the lunar shadow finally leaves the U.S. at 4:09 p.m. EDT.

In the path of totality, the sun will be blocked for about 2 minutes and the sun’s hidden solar corona — its outer atmosphere — will become visible and create eerie diamond rings of light, weather permitting. NASA describes it as one of nature’s most awesome sights.

Travel concerns & more

How will the total solar eclipse impact drivers, observers and communities? Keep reading for safety tips and possible risk management issues many American’s may experience on Monday:

cellular phone tower

Even as the major cellphone companies temporarily upgrade service, there are no guarantees cell service will be available since the best places to see the solar eclipse on Aug. 21 are largely in rural areas with normally spotty coverage. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

1. Last-minute travel is discouraged.

If you have plans to travel, arrive a day or two early, suggests Bryan Brewer, author of the first edition of “Eclipse: History. Science. Awe.” Then stay put, as last-minute travel may be difficult on public roadways.

Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination throughout the weekend. Traffic will be heavy with large crowds going to and from events all weekend.

Related: Washington state moves to outlaw distracted driving

Many small towns within the path of the eclipse expect their infrastructure and community services to be stretched to the limit during the event, says the U.S. Department of the Interior. Be early and patient. Don’t expect cell-phone reception as it’s already spotty in rural areas and may be overtaxed by the high number of users.

traffic jam

Heavy traffic is predicted near areas in the solar eclipse path of totality, starting Saturday, August 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

2. Be prepared for heavy traffic, delays and headaches.

The Federal Highway Administration, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado State Patrol and the Wyoming Department of Transportation recommend the following tips if you plan to travel to areas within the “totality” path of the eclipse:

  • Pay attention, and don’t drive distracted. Drive defensively because there will be more motorists on the road, and some of them may be slowing down or may not be paying attention when the eclipse is occurring.
  • Ensure vehicles have plenty of fuel.
  • Don’t take photographs while driving.
  • Turn your headlights on and don’t rely on your automatic headlights.
  • Don’t stop and pull off onto the side of the roads.
  • Don’t use the center median crossings on the interstates for turning around or parking. Those crossings are for authorized vehicles. Emergency vehicles need to keep these areas clear for response to emergency situations.
  • Don’t park on any highway shoulder or in any ditch area. That can not only be dangerous for you and other drivers, but a person’s car exhaust could start a grass fire.
  • Watch out for increased pedestrian traffic along smaller roads. People may randomly park and walking alongside roads in the hour before the total eclipse to get the best viewing.
  • Plan ahead and move to a safe and legal area prior to the eclipse so you can enjoy the experience.
  • Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and snacks. It’s unknown how busy traffic will be, but with hotels and campsites sold out, authorities are expecting large amounts of traffic surrounding this momentous event.

Related: Sitting in the back seat? Don’t forget to buckle up

Boater safety

If you plan to be on the water during the eclipse, make sure that your boat has proper lighting. Be aware of your surroundings leading up to the eclipse. You should also keep a safe distance between yourself and other boaters.

people wearing protective glasses look up at the sun to watch a solar eclipse

In this Wednesday, March 9, 2016 file photo, people wearing protective glasses look up at the sun to watch a solar eclipse in Jakarta, Indonesia. Doctors say not to look at the sun without eclipse glasses or other certified filters except during the two minutes or so when the moon completely blots out the sun, called totality. That’s the only time it’s safe to view the eclipse without protection. When totality is ending, then it’s time to put them back on. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

3. Wear eclipse glasses for eye protection.

Experts stress that the only safe way to look directly at the sun
, except at the brief phase of totality (in the path of totality), is using a special-purpose solar filter, popularly known as eclipse glasses. Eclipse glasses block more UV rays than everyday sunglasses, protecting your retinas from burning even when you feel no discomfort looking at the sun through shades.

NASA offers the following solar eclipse viewing safety guidelines:

  • Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.
  • Always supervise children using solar filters.
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.
  • Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
  • Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device. Note that solar filters must be attached to the front of any telescope, binoculars, camera lens, or other optics.
  • If you are within the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to look at the remaining partial phases.

    Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.

  • If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.

solar eclipse glasses on a dog

A dog is given protective glasses by its owner prior to the solar eclipse in Regent’s Park in London, Friday, March 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

4. Be wary of phony glasses.

Make sure that your eclipse safety glasses or viewers are certified as meeting ISO standards for safe solar viewing. The current standard for safe solar viewing is ISO 12312-2.

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has warned that the market is being flooded by counterfeit eclipse glasses that are labeled as if they’re compliant with the international safety standard for filters enabling direct viewing of the Sun, but in fact are not.

Related: Is your product recall covered? Probably not

Amazon has offered refunds on some solar eclipse glasses purchased via its site, citing concerns about consumer safety.

The AAS and NASA have posted a list of reputable solar filter brands, retail distributors and online dealers. See also: How to avoid buying ‘bogus’ solar eclipse glasses.

Panels containing solar cells

Panels containing solar cells make up the new West Tennessee Solar Farm. Tennessee’s largest solar generating facility uses its more than 21,000 panels to harness the sun’s energy to output 5 megawatts of power. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)

5. The total eclipse will blot out solar panels.

There are thousands and thousands of solar panels across the country that will suddenly be switched off as the sun slips behind the moon, according to the Denver Post.

The eclipse will cast a 70-mile-wide shadow across the country knocking out photovoltaic (PV) solar arrays from Oregon to South Carolina, briefly turning off as much as 9,000 megawatts (MW) of generation. That’s equal to 11 of Xcel Energy’s biggest Colorado power plants.

Related: The renewable energy market

The last time there was a nationwide total eclipse was in 1918, long before solar energy was a thing.

While the eclipse is national, its shadow will fall heaviest in the West where solar has been deeply embraced. Four of the six top states for solar installations — California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah — are located in the region. Some days, California gets as much as 40% of its electricity from solar arrays.

The West will experience biggest impact

The West alone could see the loss of as much as 7,000 MW spread over time, according to Brett Wangen, director of engineering at Peak Reliability, the organization responsible for assuring the dependable operation of the region’s power grid.

Wangen said the “biggest risk” is in California, where 80% of the state is served by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).

Between about 9 a.m. and noon on the day of the eclipse, CAISO expects to lose 4,194 MW of utility-scale solar and 1,365 MW of rooftop solar, according to Steven Greenlee, a spokesman for the agency.

If your house has solar panels for electricity, you should be able to notice a power drop in the output of your panels, which will reach a minimum when the sun is in full eclipse, according to NASA. Power levels will recover as the moon moves away from the sun.


Dress for the cooling temperatures while viewing the solar eclipse, the same way you’d prepare for sundown. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

6. Prepare for things to get chilly.

If you’ve never experienced it before, the lack of heat coming from the sun can feel both surprising and alarming. Prepare for the cooling temperatures the same way you’d prepare for sundown. Temperatures may drop by as much as 20-to-30 degrees Fahrenheit in some places over the course of an hour or two, according to Forbes.

When 80% of the sunlight is blocked, you won’t notice a difference in brightness, but your skin will.

hikers on their way down from Mount Washburn in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Hikers on their way down from Mount Washburn in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. (AP Photo/Anick Jesdanun)

7. Hikers, wildfire danger could cause chaos during solar eclipse.

Millions of visitors are projected to swarm the forests and mountains in states within the eclipse path of totality, right at the time wildfire danger and summer tourism is reaching its apex.

The nightmare scenario is a wildfire breaking out while roads are clogged with cars and campgrounds filled with people.

But there’s also concern about thousands of people fighting for just a few open campsites, along with hikers attempting to climb dangerous mountains.

Related: At least 29 large wildfires ravage Western states

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“The thing we’re worried about is people waking up the morning of the eclipse, heading out and expecting to find a campsite or beautiful place to view it,” said Cody Norris, public information officer for Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri and USA Today.

“Don’t show up at the last minute,” Norris said. “And once you’re here, be prepared to get stuck somewhere for a long time.”

Virtually all public campsites that can be reserved within the eclipse path were snapped up long ago.

Small airplanes are parked close together

Small airplanes are parked close together at Chehalis-Centralia Airport in Chehalis, Washington. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

8. General aviation will be significantly impacted.

The total solar eclipse that will take place across the U.S. on August 21, is having a significant impact on general aviation, according to AVWeb.

In Oregon, general aviation airports in the path of totality are reporting that they are fully booked up for the event. Pilots will be camping out with their airplanes.

In Nebraska, Diana Smith, manager of the Beatrice Municipal Airport, told the Nebraska Radio Network she’s heard from pilots across the country who want to fly in for the eclipse. “I would say it will probably be the [most traffic] that we’ve seen at one time, especially since everybody will be coming in all at once,” she said. The airport will close its diagonal runway to park the overflow of aircraft.

amateur astronomer Mike Conley practices with the telescope

In this Aug. 3, 2017 photo, amateur astronomer Mike Conley practices with the telescope he will use to document the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, at his home in Salem, Ore. Conley is part of a project led by the National Solar Observatory to have dozens of citizen-scientists posted across the U.S. photograph the celestial event in an effort to create a live movie of its path that will help scientists learn more about the sun’s corona. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

9. Landowner liability for camping & eclipse viewing.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) is suggesting landowners may want to brush up on potential liability issues if they are planning to open up their land for camping and eclipse viewing.

In Nebraska, for example, landowners have legal protection against tourist personal injury liability if they do not charge a fee to campers or eclipse viewers. If they do charge a fee, they must meet 2015 Nebraska agritourism legal requirements in order to reduce their injury liability risk.

Property owners may be liable for damages resulting from injuries occurring on their property. A common example would be a slip-and-fall lawsuit against a retail store. This “premises liability” is not limited to business premises; however, it basically extends to all property, including farm and ranch land.

Landowners are encouraged to contact their insurance agents regarding whether current liability insurance will cover any eclipse-related incidents.

Original Article

The 10 most affordable electric vehicles to insure

The list is based on the Mercury Insurance price for full coverage in California.

Electric vehicles have come a long way in the past four years, as the market has seen a strong growth in sales and the number of makes and models available to consumers.

Insurance cost

Mercury Insurance put together a list
 of the 10 most affordable electric vehicles to insure.

Mercury’s research and development team examined the 2017 electric vehicles available at car dealerships today or in the near future to compile a list of the most affordable vehicles to insure. The list was created based on the Mercury price for full coverage — liability, comprehensive and collision — in California.

Consumer interest increasing

“Consumer interest and intent to buy electric vehicles has increased substantially,” said Chong Gao, senior product manager, R&D for Mercury Insurance. “We put together this list to help inform your decision, because many people don’t consider what it will cost to insure a vehicle before they buy it.”

Related: Volvo to pull plug on gasoline engines

Mercury Insurance developed the list using a 30-year-old male with a clean driving record, who lives in Newport Beach, California, and travels 13,000 miles per year. The full coverage with a $500 deductible includes liability limits of $100,000 in injuries per person, $300,000 per accident, and $50,000 in property damage.

Here are the 10 most affordable 2017 all-electric vehicles to insure:

Tesla Model 3

(Photo: video screenshot)

10. Tesla Model 3

Tesla has characterized the Model 3 as its inroad to

mass-market drivers — the base model, before options or incentives, at $35,000, will be roughly half the price of the company’s cheapest Model S, according to Bloomberg.

Related: Choosing a plug-in electric car

A blue and black 2017 BMW i3


8. BMW i3 (tie)

The new BMW i3 received the inaugural 2017 World Urban Car award at the New York International Auto Show, in April.

Related: Best eco-friendly cars for Earth Day 2017

A white 2017 Hyundai Ioniq electric vehicle

The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq electric vehicle is shown at the New York International Auto Show, Wednesday, March 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

8. Hyundai IONIQ Electric (tie)

The Ioniq Electric is EPA-rated at 124 miles of range from the 28-kwh battery pack that powers an 88-kilowatt (118-horsepower) electric motor.

Related: The best cars for senior drivers in 2017

Red 2017 Ford Focus electric car


7. Ford Focus Electric

The Ford Focus Electric is now in its sixth model year, although it’s still sold in limited numbers and only in certain regions of the U.S. This 5-door hatchback is currently the only full battery-electric vehicle (EV) sold by Ford, as noted by CarGurus.

Related: 10 things you don’t know about electric vehicles

white 2017 Mitsubishi i-Miev


6. Mitsubishi i-MiEV

With a base price of less than $24,000, the i-MiEV is the least expensive electric car available in the U.S., according to Kelley Blue Book.

Related: 5 reasons why auto accidents are on the rise

2017 white & green Smart ForTwo Electric Drive car


5. Smart ForTwo Electric Drive

The 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Cabriolet is actually the only convertible EV on the market.

The ForTwo battery is 17.6 kWh, and range is up from 68 miles to between 70 and 80. It now has a faster on-board charger, so it takes only about 3 hours to bring the battery from empty to full — twice as fast as it was before, notes CNET.

Related: Shocked! The dangers of electric vehicle charging stations

A white 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf electric car

The 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf is shown during the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

4. Volkswagen e-Golf

Now in its third year, the 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf is the first and so far only all-electric VW offered in the U.S. and Canada. The 2017 e-Golf’s range is substantially improved over previous versions. This year, VW says the e-Golf will travel up top 124 miles on a charge, according to The Car Connection.

The VW e-Golf has launched only in 10 Northeast and West Coast states, although the company says it will expand distribution in future.

Related: 20 best cars for the money in 2017

2017 Nissan Leaf electric car


3. Nissan Leaf

The Leaf arrives into the 2017 model year all but unchanged as Nissan prepares a redesigned second-generation model for launch at some future date, according to Green Car Reports.

With the 30-kWh pack, the Leaf gets an EPA-rated 107 miles of range. A full charge from a 240-volt Level 2 AC sources takes around 7 hours with the 3.6-kW charger, and around 6 hours with the 6.6-kW charger, according to Nissan.

Related: 20 best car insurance companies of 2016 ranked by consumers

2017 Kia Soul EV electric car


2. Kia Soul EV

The 2017 Kia Soul EV offers more space for people and cargo than many other small battery-electric cars, but you can only buy it in limited regions.

The range for a fully charged Soul EV is 93 miles.

Related: 10 states with the worst drivers

2017 Fiat 500e electric car


1. Fiat 500e

The 500e is unchanged for 2017. The 500e is powered by an 83kW electric motor with a single-speed transmission that provides a range of 87 miles, according to Autoblog.

Original Article