Change Those Batteries Too!

This Sunday after 19 weeks on Pacific Standard Time (PST), we return to Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). On Sunday March 13, we ‘spring forward’ an hour at 2 AM early that morning.

Changing the clock does not create extra daylight but instead shifts both sunset and sunrise an hour later. Sunset just moved past 6 PM in Standard Time and starting on the 13th, will be after 7 PM. Sunrise has been approaching 6:30 AM lately and now will shift to 7:30 AM. With days getting longer by about three and a half minutes per day right now, a 6:30 AM sunrise will occur again in about a month.

Do you feel more tired after shifting to Daylight Time? You are not alone. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) that represents sleep scientists and clinicians, has found more than half of Americans usually feel tired after the change to Daylight Time. One tool to help make any time change adjustment is a sunrise alarm clock addressed in a previous article. This device could change your life!

On the Monday following the time change, studies have found that there is an increase in traffic crashes as well as more workplace injuries compared to other Mondays. A Swedish study found the risk of heart attack increases in the days following the time change as well.

Even though the circadian rhythm gets disrupted by the PST to PDT and vice versa changes, the impacts fade away in a matter of days. In fact, some feel happier after the time change thanks to the longer evenings of daylight.

Discussion about a form of savings time actually started several centuries ago. Some argue it was Benjamin Franklin who wrote an unpublished satirical letter in 1784 about adjusting the clock to save on wasteful candles. Years later, others in New Zealand, England, and Canada more seriously discussed daylight savings time, actually initiating it in parts of Ontario, Canada, in 1908. But it was The Great War (World War I) that pushed daylight time into place in many countries to save energy. After the war, many countries dropped and restarted daylight time a few times. The U.S. made the annual time change from Standard Time to Daylight Time and vice versa official by passing the Uniform Time Act of 1966.

But wait! Didn’t the Washington state legislature authorize keeping the state on daylight time full time a few years ago? Yes, they did.  So did Oregon and California.  And our neighbors to the north in British Columbia will follow suit if the entire west coast stays on daylight time year round.

However, only the U.S. Congress can authorize one or more states to stay either permanently in daylight or standard time like Arizona or Hawaii.  Congress has a full plate of legislative action, and action on this issue is not likely to be addressed anytime in the near future. So our twice annual tradition of switching from daylight to standard time in early November, and back to daylight time on the second Sunday in March continues.

Fire agencies also want to remind us that the change in time is also a good time to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors. Too many fatal fire tragedies occur because the smoke detector(s) had a dead battery.

In addition, the National Weather Service (NWS) reminds us to also change backup batteries in your all-hazard NOAA Weather Radios. If you are not familiar with these life savers for the cost of a pair of shoes, visit the NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards home page including how these devices can alert you to not only immediate life-saving weather warnings like tornadoes and flash floods, but also emergency messages from your local North Sound authorities for events like hazardous releases and wildfire warnings. Two NOAA Weather Radio stations serve the North Sound from Seattle (162.55 MHz) and Puget Sound (on the NE corner of the Olympic Peninsula – 162.425 MHz).

Your cell phones and computers will make the time change themselves. But on Saturday night, remember to move your clocks ahead one hour. Perhaps this time shift will be our last if Congress takes action on this issue this year!