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Officials urge residents to take safety precautions as daylight saving time ends

Agencies are reminding residents to do more than just adjust their clocks this weekend.

Officials are urging residents to take several safety precautions around the time of the end of daylight saving time, which occurs at 2 a.m. Sunday.

In addition to changing their clocks back one hour, the occasion is an ideal time to check on several important items, according to Maj. Phil Kasten, spokesman from the Carroll County Sheriff's Office.

"Residents are reminded to ensure essential items are checked," he said.

It is important to make sure vehicle headlights are aimed properly, especially if you have an older vehicle, and both headlights and windshields are clean, he said.

People should also control their speed and allow extra travel time.

"Motorists should prepare their vehicles for nighttime travel," Kasten said.

People will be experiencing shorter days and longer nights, according to Ragina Averella, spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

"Traffic death rates are greater at night than during the day," she said.

Darkness is also a time for increased pedestrian vigilance, since nearly 60 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., Averella said.

Pedestrians should wear bright colors or reflective gear or carry a flashlight while walking in the dark. People should walk on sidewalks and cross at intersections, she said.

Kasten also suggests people check their medicine cabinets for expired medication.

Rather than flush that medicine down the toilet or throw it into the trash can, they should drop the medicine off at designated disposal sights.

"We don't want someone to get sick from an accidental or even an intentional overdose," he said.

Bruce Bouch, the director of media affairs at the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office, said people should also practice safety drills and check home alarms since most fires occur during the winter months.

It is a good time to practice a fire escape plan, which should be done twice a year, he said. People should also check their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to make sure they are working. If need be, they should change the batteries.

"It's important that everyone has a meeting place out of the house and everyone knows how to get there," Bouch said.

Since household items are made from ingredients that burn faster than the same items did 20 years ago, people now have less time to escape from a fire, he said.

But if people train how to exit a fire, they are less likely to panic and succumb to the effects of a fire, such as carbon monoxide and toxic gases.

"Every second counts," Bouch said.

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