Daylight Death…

It’s creeping up behind you, silent and sinister. It’s (buh buh BUH BUH) Daylight Savings Monday! Honestly, it’s no joke that more people die the Monday after we adjust clocks – and for tragically preventable reasons. Last March, when we were springing forward, the increase in deaths was due to road fatalities from decreased morning light – particularly among pedestrians and children. Right after the Doc Gurley March post on this topic, we here in the Bay Area heard the tragic news about this heart-breaking, multiple-victim accident the dark Sunday morning after clocks changed. Here are important tips to keep you and yours safe these Daylight Days of potential Death.

1) Don’t go for a long jog or bike ride. It’s really tempting, when you’ve got that extra hour, to get out and enjoy the weather before true winter sets in. There aren’t many times you’re going to hear me say resist the temptation to exercise (outdoors) – but this is definitely one. The increased rate of traffic fatalities drops pretty quickly after the time change, so plan that outing for the next weekend, and I’ll be cheering you on.

2) Fall Daylight Saving Deaths are much more likely to occur in the afternoon, because drivers aren’t expecting the dramatic decrease in visibility at 5 pm traffic times. So, give your kids a treat and (again, you won’t be hearing me say this often) pick them up in the car Monday and Tuesday, instead of having them bike or walk home. If there is no other option, spend this weekend making sure bikes have lights, and there are reflector strips (you can get them cheap at a number of stores and then glue-gun or sew them on) all over backpacks and jackets. If you take public transportation or walk yourself, be alert Monday and Tuesday for drifting, distracted drivers. It’s a great time to practice defensive walking/biking.

3) Don’t forget the smoke alarm batteries! Because we’ve stretched Daylight Savings to more months, we’re now working on a 4 month/8 month battery change cycle – so these batteries have been in longer than we usually leave them! BTW – on a side note, one of the benefits of writing about health is that it reminds ME to actually do things. After I wrote the Five Things To Do For Your Health: October column, I nonchalantly asked my stove-using teenagers to show me where the fire extinguisher stays, and then to show me how to use it. Suffice it to say, after watching some prolonged stumbling around, opening and slamming cabinets, and scratching of heads, we got to spend an hour putting out an imaginary fire in the side yard that day. Let’s end this Fire Prevention Month with a bang (or would that be a sizzle?) by installing those smoke alarm batteries on the last night of the month!

4) Finally, some good news – that extra hour of sleep due to clocks changing in the fall may be good for your heart. Research shows a decrease in heart attacks the Monday after Daylight Savings Time ends. Besides savoring the good news, let’s all let this be a reminder of how important sleep is – in terms of preventing obesity, reducing stress levels, reducing risks of high blood pressure and diabetes, and even improving behavior among children. And there are no side effects (well, other than that puddle of drool on my pillow – yech…). Treat yourself to a little more of that good stuff, especially as the holiday season craziness approaches.

Stay tuned for Five Things To Do For Your Health: November.

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