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    Safety Tips & Fascinating Factoids On Rolling Back One Hour To Standard Time This Sunday Morning

    (Oct. 27, 2006) -- Below are some important safety reminders from the Long Beach Fire Dept., and some fascinating factoids from us, when you roll back your clocks one hour on late Saturday nite-Sunday morning from Daylight Savings Time to Pacific Standard Time.

    Important safety reminders from Long Beach Fire Dept.

    LBFD says that to protect yourself, your family and your belongings from fire and natural disasters: when you change your clocks, change your smoke detector batteries and rotate your emergency food supplies. LBFD recommends:

    • Change the batteries in your smoke detectors and press the test button to esnure that they work properly.

    • Go over your Exit Drill In The Home (E.D.I.T.H) plan with your family. [How would you and your family get out of your home if there were a fire? How would they escape from the second or third floor? What would you do after everyone is out of the house?]

    • Update your Emergency Contact Information with friends, family, and relatives out of state

    • Gather or rotate your Emergency Food and Water supplies. Officials recommend residents keep a 5-day supply of emergency food and water at all times for family and pets; family members will need at least 1 gallon of water per day per person.


    So...what time is it really?

    • Old fashioned: Once upon a time, you could get the time free by dialing UL 3-1212 [shows our age]. Now it's (562) 853-1212 and you're gouged eleven cents for the first three minutes, seven cents for each additional minute (jeers). We presume it's accurate but we resent spending a dime to call a computer just to check this and we think the state Public Utilities Comm'n was nuts to allow a charge for this.

    • Snazzy via the internet: You can access what used to be called "Naval Observatory Time" or "Nat'l Bureau of Standards" via the internet from the National Institutute of Science and Technology website (NIST is a branch of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce). To view it, click here.

      Caveats: NIST says its website display time is accurate to within two-tenths of a second and it uses Java (scripting you may already have installed but if you don't, you won't see the time display).

      Geeky but free: You can hear the NIST shortwave radio stations -- still called WWV and WWVH (as in their Naval Observatory days) -- if you have a shortwave radio and can receive 5.0 Mhz, 10.0Mhz or 15.0MHz. WWV is in Ft. Collins, CO; WWVH is on Kauai, HI; at least one frequency is audible virtually anywhere in the U.S. at any given time of day.

      WWV announces the time in "UTC" ("Universal Time Coordinate" or "Coordinated Universal Time," a high fallutin' change from the charming "Greenwich Mean Time" (which was "standard" non-summer-advanced time in London). UTC is seven hours ahead of LB during Pacific Daylight Time (until Sunday at 2 a.m.) and eight hours ahead of us when we fall back to Pacific Standard Time (by Sunday morning).

      WWV uses "24 hour" time, so just subtract seven hours (while we're on Daylight Savings Time) or subtract eight hours (after we switch back to Pacific Standard Time).

      WWV also has some obscure features known mainly to radio geeks and some musicians. In the second minute of each hour (except the first hour of the new UTC day), WWV transmits a musical "A" tone (440 Hz, the perfect-pitch "A") used to tune musical instruments. [In orchestras, this is done by an oboe player, not WWV].

    • Costly and geeky: You can telephone WWV to hear their transmissions at (303) 499-7111 BUT this is a long-distance call to Colorado...and you WILL be charged for the call at whatever you pay for your regular long-distance rates. NIST says the WWV number receives over 1 million calls per year. Via telephone, the time announcements are normally delayed by less than 30 ms [thousanths of a second] when using land lines from within the continental United States, and the stability (delay variation) is generally < 1 ms. When mobile phones are used, the delays are often more than 100 ms due to the multiple access methods used to share cell channels. In rare instances when the telephone connection is made by satellite, the time is delayed by 250 to 500 ms.

    • Cable box quick check Charter Cable's computer boxes display the time and as best we can tell it's accurate to about a second...but since it doesn't display seconds, you can't tell when the minute will change unless you stare at the display for the exact moment (a nuisance when setting your clocks/watches).

    If your computer has Windows, it will probably roll back your computer clock back one hour automatically this Sunday morning if you calendar is properly set.

    If you want to take your life in your hands, you can synchronize your computer's clock to NIST's clockwork using the following NIST webpage. [Caution: we haven't tried this and probably won't]. Synchronize your computer clock if you dare.

    And if you have kids, don't expect to "gain" an hour of sleep. They'll probably wake you up this Sunday morning at 5 a.m. PST which on their body clocks will be 6 a.m. PDT.

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