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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Its That Time Of Year...Again!

By Bill Fortune

It’s the time of year when we need to set our clocks forward one hour as daylight saving time starts Sunday, March 9. While some people complain about losing an hour of sleep, I prefer to think of it as a time to get my “Red Cross Ready” act together. The first thing to do is to reset all of my clocks.

Resetting the clocks really sets the tone for the day because it drives home the message that I just lost an hour of my day and I really need to get moving. Fortunately most computers, tablets and cell phones are set to change automatically. However, most other clocks in my house require a manual reset. Changing the clock in your car can be a whole new adventure. Every car I have ever owned was different. I had one car that required you to open a paper clip and carefully insert it into a small hole to change the minute. My favorite clocks are the ones that only advance by the minute -- of course I invariably miss the current minute and have to go through a 24-hour sweep to get to the correct time. Obviously this activity is not for the faint of heart and should not be done while driving.

Once the clocks are changed, it’s time to tackle the dreaded smoke alarms. I change the batteries in my smoke alarms once per year but always on Daylight Savings so as not to forget. One year I didn’t stick to this schedule, and then a few nights later at 2 a.m. I heard a strange voice saying, “low battery…low battery.” At first I didn’t recognize the voice and thought there was an intruder in my house. The voice kept getting louder and soon there was a chorus of voices as each of 6 alarms in my house began chanting. Full-scale panic ensued as I stumbled into the garage for a ladder (a painful experience without shoes on, I might add) while my wife went in search of 9-volt batteries. It’s funny how drained batteries always end up in the same drawer with the new ones. Of course there were no new batteries, which meant a 2 a.m. dash to Walmart.

As the day moves on I bring out the 72-hour emergency kit. Our kit is what I like to call “practical and portable.” I followed the suggestions on the Red Cross preparedness website (www.redcross.org/prepare) and tailored it to the needs of my household. The change in season dictates a change in the type of clothing from cold weather gear to items appropriate for warm and wet weather. I go through the food and water items to make sure that nothing has a broken seal or an expired date. I check the flashlights and batteries, charge the emergency cellphone, make sure the radio works and replace the medications. I flip through the documents that are stored in the kit to make sure nothing has changed. The most likely change would be in the list of medications, expiration dates on credit cards or a change in an emergency contact number but I go through it all just to make sure.

The last thing on my list is to replace the backup battery in my Weather Alert Radio. This is particularly important as we move into the severe weather season. Waking up to the sound of debris hitting my house is not one of my favorite things. So, with the list completed, I climb into my easy chair, content in knowing that I am Red Cross Ready.

Now if I could just get out of the spring cleaning requirement…

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