Use special glasses
As much of the nation prepares for Monday’s solar eclipse, some emergency physicians say that this natural phenomenon could lead to a temporary surge in emergency visits at points across the country. While they are prepared to handle this potential increase in patient traffic, they urge caution.
“Like many experts have said, emergency physicians remind the public that it’s extremely important to protect your eyes during this eclipse,” said Dr. Becky Parker, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. .
“If you choose to look at it, you must use proper eye protection for safe viewing from a reputable manufacturer. Staring at the sun – even for a second – can cause severe, permanent loss of vision. Remember, regular sunglasses do NOT offer enough protection.”
For more information, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/features/solar-eclipse-safety/index.html
“For many in this country, Monday’s solar eclipse will be a once-in-a-lifetime event,” said Parker. “We want you to enjoy it, but do so safely and be mindful of the risks.”
A huge increase in visitors
“I suspect there will be an increase in patient traffic to ERs, especially in areas expecting a large influx of eclipse-watchers, such as Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina and Missouri,” Parker said.
“When a population surges, even temporarily, ER visits tend to rise. Anything out of the ordinary that shakes up a regular routine, like this eclipse, or daylight savings, can lead to more vehicle accidents. Be mindful of that.”
ACEP reached out to emergency physicians across the country to get an idea of what they expect to experience on Monday in emergency departments. Those in rural areas – especially in the direct path of the eclipse – expect to see an increase of people seeking emergency care.
One emergency physician said that in east Idaho alone, officials are predicting that town and city populations will triple and put pressure on local hospitals to deal with the major increase in patients.
ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine and has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.