Fall Back Clock

With awareness and a few precautions, everyone can enjoy a wonderful worry-free autumn.

Reduced visibility. The days are getting shorter. Daylight Savings arrives on Nov. 3, which means that driving in the fall can be a challenge. People walk on the side of the road at dusk with dogs, are out jogging or riding bicycles and they can be difficult to see. Children are moving to/from school and they’re out playing. Mornings might be foggy. Farmers’ Almanac reports that fall is a time when wildlife is more active and mobile. Drivers should slow down, pay attention to signs for animal crossings and obey school zone speed limits. Pedestrians/bikers should wear lighter colors and/or reflective gear to ensure they are visible to motorists.

Change batteries when you “fall back.” Smoke alarms most often fail to sound an alarm because of missing, dead or disconnected batteries. It’s a good idea to replace the batteries twice a year when you’re adjusting the clocks. Check the batteries in your CO detectors also.

Weather changes. The air is gradually turning cooler, but we live in unpredictable Central Texas, where we can expect the temperature and weather patterns to fluctuate quickly. It is a good idea to be prepared for possible cold, windy and wet weather even when sun is shining. If you hike during the fall, it’s wise to be prepared for weather changes as you increase elevation. For fall boaters, the US Coast Guard warns that autumn boating accidents are far more likely to be fatal than those that occur during the summer months due to the colder water temperatures. The best bet is to dress in layers, ensure that you have a wind breaker or waterproof shell, plenty of water and to never hike or boat alone.

Flu season. Per the National Safety Council, autumn is the start of flu season and doctors recommend everyone six months and older receive a flu vaccination. People over age 65 comprised about 70% to 90% of all cases of flu in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children younger than five are also at high risk. October is the ideal time to get vaccinated. If you don’t like needles, ask your doctor if a nasal flu spray is available.

Space heaters. A space heater can quickly warm up a chilly room, but it’s important to read the instructions. More than 65,000 home fires are attributed to space heaters. If the space heater requires venting, ensure that it vents to the outdoors. Never use your stove or oven to heat your home. Always allow at least three feet of empty area around space heaters.

Candle caution. Candles provide ambiance and fragrance, but they too can cause fires. According to the National Candle Association, almost 10,000 home fires start with improper candle use. Never leave candles burning if you go out or go to sleep and keep your candles away from pets and kids.

Ladder safety. Use extra caution when climbing ladders for fall jobs, such as cleaning gutters or hanging holiday decorations. Shoes or boots may be wet, causing you to slip as you climb the ladder. More than 90,000 people require emergency room treatment for ladder-related injuries every year. If the gutters are hard to reach, install a leaf guard to keep most of the leaves out.

Get your car weather ready. Stock the trunk with a blanket, rain ponchos, hat and gloves, plus extra windshield fluid and an ice scraper. Add a brightly colored cloth to tie to the car in case you get stuck. Create or purchase a first aid kit and a nonperishable snack kit, i.e. trail mix, jerky, granola and bottled water. Check all fluid levels and the tires.

Halloween safety. Halloween is typically a fun-filled family holiday, but it’s important that parents take precautions to ensure the day remains safe for children enjoy. The most important Halloween safety tip: road and pedestrian safety. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Encourage all trick or treater regardless of age to wear reflective tape, use a glowstick or carry a flashlight. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following advice when selecting children’s costumes:

All costumes, wigs and accessories should be fire-resistant.

Avoid masks, which can obstruct vision.

If using Halloween makeup, make sure it is nontoxic, always test it on a small area first and remove all of it before children go to bed.

If a sword, cane or stick is a part of the child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories.

Do not use decorative contact lenses. This is potentially dangerous and could lead to eye problems.

A responsible adult should accompany young trick or treaters. Encourage older children to stay in groups, in familiar neighborhoods and agree on a time they will return. Remind children not to eat any treats until they return home. Last, ensure children know how to call 9-1-1 if they ever have an emergency or become lost.

By keeping these fall safety tips in mind, reassure yourself that you are well on your way to a stress-free and safe season. Enjoy!