Will Daylight Savings Be a Mini Y2K Event?

What does Daylight-Saving time have to do with the doomsday drama of Y2K you ask? First, let's get some background. On March 11, daylight-saving time will start. This is three weeks earlier than years before because of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The goal of this legislation is to conserve energy by extending the daylight-saving concept an extra month. (It will end a week later in the fall.)

Since the time change is new, just about every electronic device that has a clock visible or otherwise will be affected. All computers, cell phones, microwaves, videocassette recorders, and electronic calendars will need to be adjusted.

These are fairly obvious, but what about the not so obvious events in our lives that are dictated by computers and electronic timers: climate-control systems in buildings, medical appointments, stock trades, utilities automatic billing, time controlled vaults and doors, airline arrival and departure monitors, and business meeting times.

Wow, who would have thought that a measly little hour could have the potential for, while not catastrophic, certainly a nuisance and perhaps a major, costly nuisance.

Some fixes have been put is place. The Windows operating system with the latest version will have an update automatically take place on Feb 13. There may be other patches you need to download for software other that the operating system.

Stock brokerage companies along with health care providers are aware of the problem but depend on the software vendor to deliver a patch that will fix the problem. Will they get the fix in time?

Large companies will probably be OK since they have updated systems. The question does remain, however, have they done enough? The biggest problem will be the medium and small businesses. Many of them are probably oblivious to the problem.

Some consumer tips to help:

  • Cable boxes and cell phones will probably be updated by your service providers. Be aware of the March 11 date and check you cell phones and cable boxes.
  • Home computers with Windows will get an automatic update if you have subscribed to the automatic update service offered by Microsoft. To view other fixes, go to www.microsoft.com/dst2007.
  • Older VCR's will need to be updated manually on March 11 and again on Nov 4 when daylight-saving time ends.
  • Be aware of the potential problem if you are flying on that day. The airport monitors may be off by one hour. Check with your airline to confirm the landing or arrival time.
  • Medically, if you have an automatic appointment for the doctor or an operation, check with the necessary medical personnel to confirm your appointment.
  • If a stock trade is to occur automatically, check with you brokerage.

The general opinion is this will not by a Y2K type event. In order to be an informed consumer, it would be prudent of you to be aware of this event and protect yourself from any major nuisance.

USA Today