For those who live in the Daylight Saving Time zone, be sure to set your clocks back one hour this Sunday, November 4th!   (Go ahead and set your clocks back Saturday night.) The pros and cons of this decision made by the government are debated year after year.  Many people enjoy having extra daylight to enjoy outdoor activities, and others wish it were just left alone and not changed. 

During World War I, Daylight Saving Time was instituted in the U.S. in order to save energy for war production, by taking advantage of the daylight between April and October.  Between the wars and after World War II, communities and states were able to choose whether they wanted to observe DST.  During World War II, the government again required the states to observe this change.    In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which standardized the length of Daylight Saving Time.    

Since 2007, DST is four weeks longer, due to the passage of the Energy Policy Act in 2005.  This act extended four weeks – from the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November, hoping that it would save 10,000 barrels of oil each day through reduced use of power by businesses during daylight hours.   Unfortunately, it is very difficult to determine energy savings from this plan, based on a variety of factors.  Many persons speculate that little or no energy is saved by this time change.  Power usage increases in the early morning hours, as people must get up for work while it is still dark to prepare for their day.  Some even have to commute before daylight. 

Although research shows that traffic fatalities are reduced when there is more daylight, (DST), the early morning darkness brings more danger for workers driving to work, and children walking to catch the school bus while it’s still dark.  With the time change, statistics show an increase in evening traffic accidents immediately following the time change in November, as drivers face going home in a darker environment, and possibly children are on their bikes returning home from after-school activities.

To ensure that we don’t “fall backward” on safety, this marks an excellent time to do a home safety evaluation.  The National Fire Protection Association recommends that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms be checked once a year.  Their figures show that around ninety per cent of homes in the United States have smoke alarms; however one-third of those are estimated to have dead or missing batteries.  They also recommend that smoke alarms be replaced after 10 years.  Some newer types of alarms have remote controls, making it easier than ever to check them. 

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be:

  •        Installed on every level of the home, and in sleeping areas
  •        Tested once a month
  •        Equipped with new batteries annually 

Also, keep a fire extinguisher handy, and have a fire escape plan for every member of the family.  While you are doing your home safety evaluation, also ensure that your door locks function properly, 

Enjoy that extra hour of sleep we lost in the spring!