Solar Eclipse Preparedness Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Experience in Bell County

Solar Eclipse Preparedness Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Experience in Bell County

On Monday, April 8, 2024, Bell County will experience a total eclipse. While this event promises awe-inspiring moments, it's crucial to ensure that you and your loved ones are well-prepared to make the most of this unique experience. The Bell County Public Health District (BCPH) is here to provide residents and visitors with essential health and safety guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable eclipse viewing.

Solar Eclipse Overview
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, casting a shadow on our planet and temporarily blocking the Sun's light. 

Eye Safety: Eclipse Glasses and Filters
While observing a solar eclipse is a breathtaking experience, it's crucial to prioritize your safety. Staring directly at the Sun, even during an eclipse, can cause severe eye damage. Always use certified solar viewing glasses or handheld solar filters to protect your eyes. Regular or prescription sunglasses are NOT eclipse glasses, no matter how dark. They are unsafe for viewing the Sun. Ensure your eclipse glasses comply with the ISO 12312-2 international standard of safety. Always inspect your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer before use; discard the device if torn, scratched, or otherwise damaged. Always supervise children using solar viewers. Do NOT look at the Sun through a camera lens, telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while wearing eclipse glasses or using a handheld solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will burn through the filter and cause serious eye injury.

Health and Safety Guidelines

Plan Your Viewing Location
Selecting a safe and comfortable location to view the eclipse is essential. Choose an open area away from tall buildings and trees that may obstruct your view. Bring a chair or blanket to make your eclipse-watching experience more enjoyable.

Property owners hosting, renting, or leasing space between April 5-9, 2024, which is expected to exceed 50 people, will need to complete a Private Property Eclipse Gathering Form through Bell County. To complete and submit a form, please visit  .Please leave a cleared pathway on the road for emergency response vehicles. 

Property owners are responsible for observing proper and legal waste disposal rules and regulations. On-site sewage Facility and RV Park regulations can be found on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality website. Illegal dumping is a crime and a public health hazard.

Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District encourages anyone staying overnight should be mindful of any "natural faults or features" on the surface of rural lands that are a direct conduit to underlying groundwater resources. Clearwater also states that these features should be avoided because they are natural habitats for Rattlesnakes and other venomous species endemic to our area, especially hill country transition lands west of Interstate Highway 35. 

Emergency Preparedness

Traffic and Transportation
With increased visitors, heavy congestion is expected on major roads. Expect travel delays and be prepared to take alternate routes. Stay home and avoid driving if possible. During the eclipse event, do NOT stop on the side of the road for viewing. It is recommended to fuel vehicles several days before the eclipse and purchase groceries and supplies in advance, including water, food, medications, and a first aid kit. 

Wireless Networks
While wireless networks are not expected to go down; however, with increased visitors in the area, there is a possibility that cellular devices may lose connection and limit the ability to make phone calls. In case of an emergency, dial 911; for nonemergency calls, dial (254)-298-5500. If you experience loss of cell service, text your emergency to 9-1-1 or call from a landline. Please keep in mind that due to the influx of traffic, it may take first responders longer to arrive at an emergency call. Sign up to receive emergency notification alerts for the City of Temple HERE and the City of Killeen HERE

Pet Safety
Keep pets and animals secure on leashes or in kennels during the eclipse to prevent distress or disorientation. 

On- Site Sewage Facilities
Bell County will see a large influx of people to the area. With the influx of people, existing septic systems may be impacted. Event locations, RV/campsites, and other private properties with existing septic systems could fail due to the hydraulic overload.

While planning for this event, locations with septic systems may be impacted, and some places may have no sanitary provisions at all. Please consider using portable toilets and frequently pumping and hauling the wastewater from the impacted systems to prevent any unauthorized discharge. It is the property owner's responsibility to properly abate public health issues associated with unauthorized discharge. Unauthorized discharges can be reported via email to the Bell County Public Health District's On-Site Wastewater Division at

Food Safety
Ensuring proper food safety and sanitation practices is essential during events like the upcoming solar eclipse. These practices are critical to safeguarding public health and preventing foodborne illnesses, especially in the context of outdoor activities and community gatherings. By adhering to simple yet vital guidelines, such as regular handwashing, proper food storage, and preventing cross-contamination, individuals contribute to a safer and healthier experience for the entire community. Please reference the Bell County Public Health District Food Safety and Sanitation  webpage for access to resources for maintaining food safety standards. If you suspect a foodborne illness, immediately report the incident to the Bell County Public Health District. You can enter a complaint online through the BCPH Foodborne Illness Complaint Form or by Contacting BCPH at (254) 239-8734. 

The Bell County Public Health District encourages everyone to embrace this rare event while prioritizing safety. By following these solar eclipse preparedness tips, you can ensure a memorable and safe viewing experience for you, your family, and our entire community.

American Astronomical Society 

Bell County Texas Eclipse Gathering Form

Bell County Texas Solar Eclipse Declaration

Bell County Public Health District- Foodborne Illness Complaint Form 

Bell County Public Health District Food Safety and Sanitation Webpage 

City of Killeen CodeRED Emergency Notification System 

 City of Temple Community Notification Enrollment

Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District

NASA Eclipse Website

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality