Are You Prepared to Fall Back?
Daylight saving time ends Sunday, Nov. 3. And while many of us are excited for an extra hour of sleep, there are some safety concerns that come with "falling back."
- It gets dark earlier. Losing one hour means it will be getting on toward dusk at rush hour when many of us are on our way home from work. Less light means reduced visibility, which is dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians. Driving in the dark can also be tiring, and a drowsy driver is an accident waiting to happen.
- You're out after sunset. Whether it's running errands or going to the grocery story, you're bound to be out in public after dark, which means you're at increased risk for a run-in with a would-be thief. Be sure to park in busy, well-lit areas; lock your vehicle; be aware of your surroundings; walk with purpose and avoid using your cellphone. If you're not paying attention, you could fall prey to an attack – or walk in front of a moving vehicle.
- Your internal clock gets out of whack. The change in your sleep schedule combined with fewer hours of daylight can leave you feeling sluggish. For many people it also brings drowsiness, fatigue, irritability, depression, cluster headaches, seasonal affective disorder and an increased risk for accidents – both at work and at home.
Here are a few tips that may make the transition easier.
- Prepare in advance. Try staying up 20 to 30 minutes past your usual bedtime both Friday and Saturday before the time change. Doing so may help you "fall back" more easily and be able to stick to your regular sleep schedule in the weeks ahead.
- Limit alcohol, caffeine and nicotine in the days leading up to the time change. Doing so may help you sleep better and avoid the headaches, fatigue, irritability and drowsiness that are common side effects of "falling back."
- Catch as many rays as possible during the day in the weeks ahead. Eat lunch outside or take a 20-minute walk to soak up as much sun as you can. Your improved mood and energy levels will thank you.
- Take a hike. Exercise releases serotonin in your brain, which helps your body adjust to the time change. Instead of going home and crashing after work, try incorporating a brisk evening walk into your schedule.
- Avoid napping. Feeling tired or groggy? A quick walk (or a bunch of jumping jacks) and a healthy snack can help you feel more energized.
The end of daylight saving time is a great time to perform safety checks and prep around the house.
- Replace the batteries in your clocks. You never know when winter weather will knock out the power overnight. Don't be left scrambling the next morning.
- Replace lightbulbs inside and out. Shorter days mean you'll be relying on artificial light to get through the long winter nights.
- Check and replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. If any smoke alarm is more than 10 years old, replace it. The same goes for any CO alarm unit that is more than 5 years old.
- Check your fire extinguishers. If the arrow in the gauge on the top is in the green, you're good to go. If it's in the red, it's time to recharge or replace your extinguisher.
- Prepare a winter emergency kit for your car. Essential items include warm clothes, hat and gloves; a blanket; a flashlight and extra batteries; bottled water and nonperishable snacks; flares; jumper cables; and sand or kitty litter for traction.
About the Author
Scott Supernaw, MSEd, CEM, is the system-wide emergency management coordinator with Cone Health Emergency Management.