The No. 1 safety item that every viewer needs to be carrying for the total solar eclipse are a pair of certified safety glasses.

Solar shades use Mylar filter lenses to block out all visible light except for a dim orange circle when looking at the sun.

Glasses are essential for viewing the partial phases of the eclipse 90 minutes before and after totality, but should be taken off at 1:06 p.m. when totality phase begins.

Michael Bakich senior editor of Astronomy Magazine said it’s important for viewers to practice putting glasses on first and find the sun after.

“The easiest way to know when you should take them off is when you can’t see any of the sun through them,” Bakich said. “Solar glasses drop the sun’s brightness by a factor of 200,000. That’s what makes it safe to look at the sun. And then you put them back on once you see the second diamond ring and the sun start to reappear. That is the way to use them. It’s really simple.”

For families with young eclipse viewers, Jada McClintick, the emergency management director for the City of St. Joseph, suggests hole-punching the sides of the glasses and using a ribbon to tie it around their neck so they don’t get lost.

“As long as you leave the filters intact, the glasses will still be fully functional,” McClintick said. “To get smaller kids ready for it, they can wear those glasses anytime, so when eclipse day comes they’re already prepared on how to utilize those and when to take them off.”

Make sure any solar eclipse glasses being used were made by American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, or TSE 17 whose products are certified under ISO 12312-2 and are proven to be safe for solar viewing.

Nathan Ellgren can be reached at nathan.ellgren@knpn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @NPNowEllgren.