Twice a year, when Daylight Saving Time begins or ends, make it a habit to not only change your clocks, but also do a few other semi-annual tasks that will improve safety in your home…
Do these things every 6 months when you reset your clocks:
- Check and replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Remember to check the AGE of your detectors! On November 2nd, 2007, the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), press release #08-062, suggests not only to check/change batteries in alarms, but also check the age of the alarms and replace older alarms. The CPSC suggests that consumers replace smoke alarms every ten years and replace carbon monoxide (CO) alarms every five years. As the cold sets in and many start up their gas-fired furnaces, fireplaces, portable unit heaters and the like for the first time, carbon monoxide poisoning risks increase dramatically during this time of year.
- Prepare a disaster supply kit for your house (water, food, flashlights, batteries, blankets). Once you’ve created your home disaster kit, use the semi-annual time change to check its contents (including testing/replacing flashlight batteries).
- A COLD winter is coming! Make a “winter car-emergency kit” now and put it in your vehicle! (Don’t know what to include? Check these ideas at this website: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/auto/20-must-haves-in-your-car-emergency-kit-1.aspx)
It’s a good idea to carry a car-emergency kit in your car year-round, but be sure to add cold-weather gear to your general car-emergency kit each fall. (Having a separate duffle/gear bag clearly marked “Cold Gear” specifically for your cold weather emergency gear makes it easy to add or take out of the car, seasonally.) Like a Boy Scout, “Be Prepared!” In cold weather, even a very minor car problem or flat tire can be deadly serious, or at the very least, miserable to deal with, unless you’re well prepared.
- Check home and outbuilding storage areas for hazardous materials. Discard properly any which are outdated, no longer used or in poor condition. Move any which are within reach of kids or pets.
- Check and discard expired medications -those dates really DO have meaning - some very common over-the-counter medications can cause serious problems due to change through aging.
ALSO…in addition to smoke detectors and CO detectors, the semi-annual time change is also a great time to change ALL the batteries in the house- clocks, controls with backup timers(thermostats, irrigation, outdoor lighting, water conditioners), phone accessories, flashlights and portable electronics…And remember to discard the used batteries properly.
There is a huge difference between the “society clock” and the “biological clock” we all work from. During these time changes there is statistically an increase in safety incidents.
With the end of daylight savings time comes an increase of darkness around the time of rush hour, when traffic is at a peak and many are making our way home from work. Drivers aren’t used to the decreased visibility – nor are pedestrians, who might take chances crossing roads when they shouldn’t. Pedestrians walking around at dusk are nearly three times more likely to be struck and killed by cars in the days following the end of daylight saving time than just before the time change.
Studies have also found that auto accidents increase after the clocks fall back an hour. Besides the lack of visibility, commuting in the dark can also make drivers drowsier than usual. According to some health studies, changes in waking time coupled with the earlier onset of darkness throws off our internal clocks. This increases driving risks, primarily because in our 24/7 society, we have a fundamental problem of already being sleep deprived. The end of daylight saving time can leave many feeling fatigued, which can pose safety risks both at home and in the workplace. Some things to keep in mind when switching back to standard time are:
Fatigue– Studies suggest that it takes people who work traditional hours several days to fully readjust their sleep schedule after the time change. While it may seem a welcome gift to get an extra hour of sleep as opposed to losing an hour in the spring, there is a physiological consequence to changing our clocks. Don’t be surprised if you feel a bit sluggish during the first week or so of November.
Accidents– Evidence suggests that time changes increase safety problems both at work and at home. Just being aware of the increased risk of accidents in the period immediately following the time change may help you stay alert. Try to avoid building up a sleep debt in the days before the change.
These safety tips will help remind you to use each time change to improve your home safety!