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by Joyia Emard
A thrift shop features a wide variety of furniture, lamps, and decorative items.Don’t sacrifice safety to save a few bucks

Inexpensive items at a thrift store, consignment shop, or garage sale could save you some dough, but could come at a high cost of safety for yourself and your family, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).

The commission’s product-safety laws and regulations don’t just apply to manufacturers: They also apply to anyone who sells or distributes consumer products. That includes thrift and consignment stores, charity shops, and individuals or groups holding garage and yard sales or flea markets. And that’s why CPSC’s working to get the word out about things secondhand sellers shouldn’t sell, and what buyers should beware of, including:

  • Mattresses—Old, used, or unregulated mattresses run the major risk of not being up to current anti-flammability or sanitizing standards.
  • Bean-bag chairs—These fun pieces of furniture pose suffocation and choking hazards, especially those with zippers, flimsy seams, and leaking stuffing or pellets.
  • Cribs and playpens—Unlike older or used models, new cribs and playpens must comply with the latest structural and strength standards to prevent suffocation, strangulation, and choking.

If you’re unsure whether to buy something, or even to sell or donate something, don’t take a chance—as CPSC says, “When in doubt, throw it out!” Used or older products have caused injuries and deaths, and many have been the subject of safety recalls for tragic reasons. Don’t sacrifice safety to make or save a few bucks: Visit www.cpsc.gov and check out the Reseller’s Guide for more information.

Don’t forget: In California, new and used mattresses—as well as many other everyday household items and furnishings—must meet stringent safety standards, and outdated mattresses can easily be recycled. Find out more about household-goods safety and services from the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Household Goods and Services at https://bhgs.dca.ca.gov, and check a retailer, manufacturer, or sanitizer license at https://search.dca.ca.gov.

Related Reading: #TBT with DCA: Bureau of Household Goods and Services

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A fitness plan features charts and graphs.You’re not alone: Licensed medical and mental-health professionals can help

You know about COVID-19, but what about COVID-15? In a nod to the “Freshman 15” theory of first-year college students gaining significant weight, “COVID-15” is a cheeky reference to people’s pounds gained during this year of stress, isolation, and uncertainty. However, there’s nothing humorous about how much weight gain has impacted Americans—or how so many of us have been affected—since the pandemic began.

Americans already were struggling with weight issues pre-pandemic, with more than 42% of U.S. adults identified as obese in 2017–2018. Now new figures note 37% of Americans, or about two in five of us, have gained an average of 14.5 pounds during this past year, closely mirroring the “COVID-15” saying.

Those additional pounds add up to serious impacts on health, including:

  • Higher overall mortality
  • High blood pressure
  • High levels of LDL cholesterol or triglycerides
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Body pain

What’s more, there is growing evidence linking higher weight to higher danger for COVID-19 complications and mortality across all age groups.

Losing weight is a challenge, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has five tips to get you started on the path to weight loss and healthier living during the pandemic, or anytime:

  1. Make a commitment—Making the decision to lose weight, change your lifestyle, and become healthier is a big step to take, so start simply by making a commitment to yourself. One easy yet effective way to do this is to create and post a written contract committing to the process, including the amount of weight you’d like to lose, the date you’d like to lose the weight by, and the dietary and activity changes you promise to use to get there. You can also write down the reasons why you’re making these changes to help keep motivation high.
  2. Take stock of where you are—Contact a licensed health care provider to evaluate your weight, height, health history, personal challenges, current eating and exercise habits, and lifestyle goals. While you’re at your evaluation appointment, make a follow-up appointment to monitor your changes and progress (Step 5).
  3. Set realistic goals—Set some short-term goals and reward your efforts along the way. If your long-term goal is to lose 40 pounds and to control your high blood pressure, some short-term eating and physical activity goals might be to start eating a healthy breakfast, taking a 15-minute walk in the evenings, or having a salad or vegetable with dinner. Focus on two to three goals at a time that are specific, realistic, and achievable. For example, “exercise more” is not a specific goal, but if you say you’ll walk 15 minutes a day three days a week, you are setting a specific, realistic, and achievable goal. By achieving short-term goals day-by-day, you’ll feel good about your progress and be motivated to continue. Setting unrealistic goals (say, losing 20 pounds in two weeks) will leave you feeling defeated and frustrated.
  4. Identify resources for information and support—Find family members or friends who will support your weight loss efforts. Making lifestyle changes can feel easier when you have others you can talk to and rely on for support. You might have neighbors or co-workers with similar goals: Together you can share healthful recipes and plan group exercise.
  5. Monitor your progress—Revisit the goals you set for yourself (Step 3) and evaluate your progress regularly. If you set a goal to walk each morning but are having trouble fitting it in before work, get your walk in at lunchtime or after work. Evaluate which parts of your plan are working well and which ones need tweaking. Then rewrite your goals and plan accordingly. If you are consistently achieving a particular goal, add a new goal to help you continue on your path to success. Be sure to celebrate your successes and be proud of your positive progress.

And remember: You are not alone on your weight-loss journey. Medical and mental-health professionals licensed by Department of Consumer Affairs’ boards and bureaus are dedicated to helping you reach your health and well-being goals. Contact a licensed professional for assistance today, and to check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov. For help accessing healthy food during the pandemic, as well as other vital resources, visit www.covid19.ca.gov or call 211 toll-free.

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Clear defensible space, then get help and insights from licensed professionals

Our California lifestyle is impacted by our Mediterranean climate: cool, wet winters that lead to hot, dry summers. But those winters aren’t as wet as we’d like, leading to drier summers and increased fire dangers throughout the state, wherever Californians call home. Keep your home more fire-resistant year-round by following steps from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), and call on licensed professionals for assistance.

KNOW YOUR ZONES

A low-maintenance, fire-resistant yard features gravel, stone walkways, widely spaced shrubs, and house clearance.

A low-maintenance, fire-resistant yard features different colors of gravel, stone walkways, widely spaced shrubs, and plenty of structure and chimney clearance.

CAL FIRE says homes should have what it calls “defensible space.” This space is a buffer created between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area surrounding it. Defensible space is key not only to slow or stop the spread of wildfire, but also to help protect your home from catching fire as well as to give firefighters protection in case they need to defend your home.

To create a defensible space, look at your yard or property in terms of zones:

Zone 1, extending 30 to 50 feet from buildings, structures, and decks:

  • Remove all dead plants, grass, and weeds.
  • Remove dead or dry leaves and pine needles from your yard, roof, and rain gutters.
  • Remove branches that hang over your roof and keep dead branches 10 feet away from your chimney.
  • Trim trees regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees.
  • Relocate wood piles to Zone 2.
  • Remove or prune flammable plants and shrubs near windows.
  • Remove vegetation and items that could catch fire from around and under decks.
  • Create a separation between trees, shrubs, and items that could catch fire, such as patio furniture, wood piles, swing sets, etc.

Zone 2, extending 100 feet out from buildings, structures, and decks:

  • Cut or mow annual grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches.
  • Create clear horizontal and vertical space between shrubs and trees such as by spacing out plants and by removing tree branches to a 6-foot minimum clearance.
  • Remove fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones, and small branches.

And clearing your zones isn’t just to improve your property: It’s also the law in many parts of the state. Contact your local fire department for more information about laws, codes, and requirements for defensible space in your specific area.

COLORFUL CHOICES

A residential hillside uses rocks and gravel plus fire-resistant plants like succulents and birds of paradise to create a colorful view.

A residential hillside uses rocks and gravel plus fire-resistant plants like succulents and birds of paradise to create a beautiful yet fire-defensible view.

With zones cleared, now comes the fun part: choosing and using fire-resistant plants, shrubs, and trees in your landscape. Fire-resistant planting and landscaping isn’t necessarily the same thing as a well-maintained yard or cleared, defensible space. Rather, this practice uses strategically placed vegetation and materials to actively resist the spread of fire to your home.

CAL FIRE notes you don’t need to spend a lot of money to make your landscape fire-resistant. What’s more, this type of landscaping can actually increase your property value and conserve water. And fire-resistant landscaping doesn’t mean dull: Numerous beautiful and practical plants are available at your local nursery.

To incorporate fire-resistant plants and other elements in your home, contact a professional licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Landscape Architects Technical Committee. For assistance with tree pruning for defensible spaces and elsewhere, contact a tree service contractor licensed by the Contractors State License Board. To check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov. For additional information on wildfire preparedness and related resources, visit CAL FIRE’s Ready for Wildfire website and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

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Today, Department of Consumer Affairs Director Kimberly Kirchmeyer announced the appointment of Zima Creason to the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) Advisory Committee. Creason will serve on the committee as the Former Student of an Institution, a role designated by statute.

BPPE Logo“We are pleased to welcome Zima Creason to the BPPE Advisory Committee,” said Director Kirchmeyer. “The breadth of her experiences as a student of a private postsecondary institution makes her uniquely qualified to fill an invaluable role on the committee. We look forward to her knowledge and insights as guiding forces in BPPE’s continuing efforts to serve and protect California consumers.”

Creason serves as the Executive Director of the California EDGE Coalition and was elected as a San Juan Unified School District Governing Board Member in 2018. At EDGE, she works to address the skilled workforce shortage and to advance economic mobility for all Californians. She attended University of Phoenix for two of her degrees, giving her direct experience with private education in addition to the advocacy efforts she leads at EDGE.

The Advisory Committee examines the oversight functions and operational policies of the BPPE and advises with respect to matters relating to private postsecondary education. The Committee also makes recommendations with respect to policies, practices, and regulations relating to private postsecondary education, and provides assistance as may be requested by the BPPE.

To learn more about BPPE, click here.

For a printer friendly version of this news release, click here.

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El portal de aplicaciones para Ayuda Con La Renta de COVID-19 de California se abre hoy $2.6 mil millones en ayuda federal para ayudar a los californianos afectados por la pandemia

Centro de asistencia telefónica, línea gratuita, organizaciones comunitarias que ayudan con el esfuerzo; y aplicaciones disponibles en varios idiomas para

Nota del editor: Este comunicado de prensa fue distribuido por la Agencia de Negocios, Servicios al Consumidor y Vivienda (BCSH). Haz clic aquí para obtener una versión imprimible de este comunicado de prensa en el sitio web de BCSH.

SACRAMENTO—De acuerdo con el compromiso del gobernador Gavin Newsom de garantizar que las personas y las familias permanezcan en sus hogares durante y a pesar de la pandemia de COVID-19, los californianos que participan que han sufrido dificultades financieras debido a la pandemia y que están en mayor riesgo de desalojo ahora pueden aplicar para el programa Ayuda Con La Renta de COVID-19 de California para ayudar a pagar la renta atrasada. A partir de hoy, los inquilinos y propietarios pueden verificar su elegibilidad y aplicar visitando HousingIsKey.com o llamando al número gratuito 833-430-2122, los siete días de la semana.

“Para cientos de miles de inquilinos y propietarios, hay más luz al final del túnel”, explicó el gobernador Newsom. “Tenemos las protecciones de desalojo más fuertes de la nación y, a partir de hoy, estamos brindando el apoyo financiero que tanto necesitan los inquilinos como los pequeños propietarios que necesitan asistencia para pagar sus hipotecas, con un enfoque en la equidad racial y geográfica”.

El programa Ayuda Con La Renta de COVID-19 de California fue creado por la Ley de Alivio para Inquilinos durante COVID-19, con las protecciones de desalojo más sólidas del país firmadas por el gobernador Newsom el 29 de enero. Los fondos provienen de los $2.6 mil millones en asistencia federal de emergencia para la renta para los estados y jurisdicciones locales.

“Se estima que 1.5 millones de familias de california, trabajadores de primera línea y personas de bajos ingresos están atrasados en el pago de su renta debido a las consecuencias

económicas de esta pandemia”, explicó la secretaria de la Agencia de Vivienda, Servicios al Consumidor y Negocios (BCSH) Lourdes Castro Ramirez. “Han acumulado una deuda significativa y sus propietarios están luchando para cumplir con sus obligaciones financieras. El programa Ayuda Con La Renta de COVID-19 de California será un salvavidas para inquilinos y propietarios. Elimina la deuda de renta acumulada, mantiene a las familias más afectadas en hogares y conducirá a una recuperación económica más justa”.

Tanto los inquilinos como los propietarios pueden solicitar Ayuda Con La Renta de COVID-19 de California. Si los propietarios participan, recibirán el 80 por ciento del alquiler impago de un inquilino elegible durante el período del 1 de abril de 2020 y el 31 de marzo de 2021 si aceptan renunciar al 20 por ciento restante del alquiler impago.

Los inquilinos que ganan menos del 80 por ciento o menos del ingreso medio del área (AMI) para su ubicación, son elegibles. Por ejemplo, una familia de cuatro miembros en Visalia en el condado de Tulare, es elegible para recibir asistencia para la renta si el ingreso de su hogar es de $55,900 o menos. La elegibilidad de ingresos de los inquilinos se calculará automáticamente durante el proceso de aplicación.

Los inquilinos elegibles con propietarios que opten por no participar en el programa, pueden aplicar por cuenta propia. Esos inquilinos serán elegibles para recibir pagos del 25 por ciento del alquiler atrasado acumulado desde el 1 de abril de 2020 hasta el 31 de marzo de 2021, lo que puede ayudarlos a protegerlos del desalojo según SB 91.

Uno de nuestros objetivos principales es asegurarnos de llegar y servir a las comunidades que han sido más afectadas por la pandemia”, explicó Gustavo Velásquez, Director del Departamento de Vivienda y Desarrollo Comunitario (HCD como sus siglas en inglés), que administra el programa. “Agradecemos el apoyo y la asociación de las jurisdicciones locales que trabajan con el Estado para garantizar que quienes más necesitan asistencia obtengan información clara, precisa, consistente y accesible sobre cómo y cuándo aplicar”.

Se ha establecido una red estatal de socios comunitarios locales para ayudar a las personas, responder a preguntas de elegibilidad y someter aplicaciones. Además, se está llevando a cabo un sólido esfuerzo de comunicación y educación multilingüe en todo el estado para ayudar a informar a los inquilinos y propietarios sobre la disponibilidad de Ayuda Con La Renta de COVID-19 de California.

La aplicación estará disponible en inglés, español, vietnamita, tagalo, chino y coreano, y habrá ayuda disponible en más de 200 idiomas adicionales a través del centro de llamadas de Ayuda Con La Renta de COVID-19 de California al 833-430-2122.

as aplicaciones de los propietarios o inquilinos deben incluir toda la información requerida y los elementos de verificación de elegibilidad para ser procesados. Los equipos de administración de casos estarán disponibles para ayudar a los solicitantes a completar sus solicitudes. Hay una lista de verificación para inquilinos que incluye la documentación que necesitarán y otra para los propietarios. Una vez que una solicitud ha sido enviada y procesada con éxito, un administrador de casos de Ayuda Con La Renta de COVID-19 de California notificará tanto al propietario como al inquilino sobre el estado de la aplicación.

Para obtener más información sobre la elegibilidad del programa, la información requerida para la aplicación, y para comenzar el proceso de aplicación, visite HousingIsKey.com o llame al 833-430-2122.

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CA COVID-19 Rent Relief application portal opens today

$2.6 billion in federal aid to assist Californians impacted by the pandemic

Call Center, toll-free line, and community-based organizations assisting with effort; and
applications available in multiple languages to connect hardest hit communities to relief

Editor’s note: this news release was distributed by the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency (BCSH). Click here to view a printer-friendly version of this news release on the BCSH website.

SACRAMENTO— In keeping with Governor Gavin Newsom’s commitment to ensuring individuals and families stay housed during – and despite – the COVID-19 pandemic, Californians who have experienced a financial hardship because of the pandemic and who are most at-risk of eviction can now apply for the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program to help pay past due rent. Beginning today, renters and landlords can check eligibility and apply by visiting HousingIsKey.com or by calling 833-430-2122 toll-free, seven days a week.

For hundreds of thousands of renters and small property owners, there is more light at the end of the tunnel,” said Governor Newsom. “We have the strongest eviction protections in the nation and, beginning today, we are providing greatly needed financial support to both renters and small property owners in need of assistance to pay their mortgages, with a focus on racial and geographic equity.”

The CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program was created by the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act, with the strongest-in-the nation eviction protections signed into law by Governor Newsom on January 29. Funding comes from the $2.6 billion in federal emergency rental assistance program to states and local jurisdictions.

“An estimated 1.5 million California families, front-line workers and low-wage earners are behind on their rent due to the economic fallout of this pandemic,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency (BCSH) Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramirez. “They have accumulated significant debt and their landlords are struggling to meet their financial obligations. The CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program will be a lifeline to renters and landlords. It clears accumulated rental debt, keeps families hardest hit housed and will lead to a more equitable economic recovery.”

Both renters and landlords can apply for CA COVID-19 Rent Relief. If landlords choose to participate, they will receive 80 percent of an eligible tenant’s unpaid rent for the period of April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021 if they agree to waive the remaining 20 percent of unpaid rent.

Renters making less than 80 percent or less of the Area Median Income (AMI) for their location are eligible. For example, a family of four in Visalia in Tulare County is eligible for rental assistance if their household income is $55,900 or less. Renters’ income eligibility will automatically be calculated during the application process.

Eligible renters with landlords who choose not to participate in the program can apply on their own. Those renters will be eligible to receive payments of 25 percent of unpaid rent accrued from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, which can help protect them from eviction under SB 91.

“One of our primary goals is to ensure we reach and serve communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Gustavo Velasquez, Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development, which is administering the program. “We appreciate the support and partnership of local jurisdictions working with the State to ensure that those in most need of assistance get clear, accurate, consistent, and accessible information on how and when to apply.”

A statewide network of has been established to help individuals answer eligibility questions and submit applications. In addition, a robust statewide multilingual communication and education effort is underway to help inform renters and landlords about the availability of CA COVID-19 Rent Relief.

The application will be available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Chinese and Korean, and help will be available in more than 200 additional languages through the California COVID-19 Rent Relief call center at 833-430-2122.

Applications from landlords or renters must include all required information and eligibility verification items to be processed. Case management teams will be available to help applicants complete their applications. There is a checklist for renters that includes the paperwork they will need, and one for landlords. Once an application has been successfully submitted and processed, both the landlord and tenant will be notified by a COVID19 Rent Relief case manager about the application status.

For more information on program eligibility, required application information, and to start the application process, visit HousingIsKey.com or call 833-430-2122.

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COVID-19 vaccinations have become increasingly available to millions of people, but that increase has brought with it scam artists attempting to cheat you out of your money and personal information.

It’s best to reach out to your health care provider or local health department directly to get legitimate facts rather than interacting with an unknown person through email or text. A legitimate source won’t ask you to pay for a vaccine or visit a questionable link.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector has these tips to avoid being victimized by COVID-19 fraudsters:

  • Offers to purchase COVID-19 vaccination cards are scams. Valid proof of COVID-19 vaccination can only be provided to individuals by legitimate providers administering vaccines.
  • Photos of COVID-19 vaccination cards should not be shared on social media. Posting content that includes your date of birth, health care details or other personally identifiable information can be used to steal your identity.
  • Be vigilant to protect yourself. You will not be asked for money to enhance your ranking for vaccine eligibility. Government and state officials will not call you to obtain personal information to receive the vaccine.
  • Beneficiaries should be cautious of unsolicited requests for their personal, medical, and financial information. Medicare will not call beneficiaries to offer COVID-19-related products, services, or benefit review.
  • Be suspicious of any unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 vaccine test options or other supplies. If you receive a suspicious call, hang up immediately.
  • Do not respond to, or open hyperlinks in, text messages about COVID-19 from unknown individuals.
  • Ignore offers or advertisements for vaccine offers or any COVID-19 testing on social media sites. If you make an appointment for a COVID-19 test online, make sure the location is an official testing site.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone claiming to offer grants related to COVID-19 treatment or vaccination.

If you suspect COVID-19 health care fraud or have been a victim of a scam, options for reporting it include:

  • HHS online or by calling (800) HHS-TIPS/(800) 447-8477.
  • The Federal Trade Commission’s ReportFraud.ftc.gov, which shares information with law enforcement.
  • The FBI’s tip line, at tips.fbi.gov or (800) CALL-FBI.
  • The Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker.

In California, to sign up for a notification when you’re eligible for a vaccine, visit myturn.ca.gov, and for more information on the vaccine effort, visit the Vaccinate All 58 webpage. For the latest COVID-19 updates, visit covid19.ca.gov.

For any health care concerns, COVID-19-related or otherwise, contact a medical professional licensed by one of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ numerous health care licensing entities.

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If you start your vehicle and hear a nice, loud roar that only gets louder when you hit the gas, you might want to look under the car—you may be one of the latest victims of the catalytic converter theft craze.

Catalytic converter thefts are on the upswing, especially in the Bay Area, and what can net a thief up to $300 bucks at a scrapyard or recycler can cost you $1,000 to $5,000 to fix, depending on the model and make of your ride.

What is a catalytic converter, anyway?
If you drive a fuel-powered vehicle 1974 and newer, you have a catalytic converter on your vehicle. They are located between the engine and the exhaust system—just about in the middle of the vehicle’s undercarriage—and their purpose is to turn gases into harmless non-toxic emissions or water vapor. The demand for stricter car emissions worldwide has sent the demand for catalytic converters, and the precious metals contained within them, to record highs.Diagram of a car exhaust ystem

Why are people stealing them?

  • Catalytic converters are a gold mine, so to speak. Each unit contains somewhere between 3 to 7 grams (1/5 of an ounce) of three precious metals—rhodium, platinum, and palladium—that are worth thousands of $$ per ounce on the market (at the time of the writing of this article, rhodium is selling for $28,250, platinum for $1,181.63 and palladium for $2,531.18 per ounce*).
  • The parts are non-traceable.
  • Fast money. According to Edmunds.com, it only takes experienced thieves one to two minutes to remove bolted on or welded on units with a saw or wrench and run. Times are tough and practice, as always, makes perfect.

Favorite targets
Toyota Prius model years 2004 to 2009 are favorites; hybrids use less gas, which means the precious metals in the catalytic converters undergo less strain and tend to be in better condition. Honda Elements are also a favorite. But thieves really favor high-off-the-ground SUVs and trucks, because they are easy to slide under—no jack needed for the heist on these.

What the law says
Senate Bill 627 (Chapter 603, Calderon, Statutes of 2009), added a section to California Business and Professions Code 21610 regarding documentation and record-keeping by core recyclers of purchases and sales of catalytic converters. (Although selling converters is covered under the law, less reputable scrappers can always be found.)

In order to skirt the U.S. safety net,  thieves are now collecting and piling up catalytic converters, then, when enough units have been collected, they are sold on the black market and shipped overseas.

Three types of protective devices: DIY rebar cage (top), aftermarket shield (center) and an aftermarket cage (bottom)

What can you do?
You can’t sleep all night in your car to keep thieves away, however, there are a few things you can do:

  • Engrave your car’s VIN (vehicle identification number) on your converter. If thieves try to sell it at a reputable scrap dealer, this may help alert them that it is a stolen converter; it also makes it easier to identify the owner of the car it was stolen from.
  • If you have a car alarm, calibrate it to detect vibration. Look into purchasing a dash cam.
  • Park in well-lit areas and close to buildings. If you have a garage, use it. Also consider installing motion detection lighting outside if possible.
  • Cover the converter with a protective plate, shield, clamp, cage or strap. If your catalytic converter is bolted on, consider having the bolts welded. If you are mechanical, some of these options, including some DIY methods, such as the rebar cage, you can do yourself. If you’d rather have a professional do it for you, make sure he or she is licensed in good standing by the Bureau of Automotive Repair.

And there you have it: What catalytic converters are, why they’re so valuable, and how to keep yours under your vehicle where it belongs. Although there are laws against stealing them and selling them, you are still, as always, the first line of defense. Spending few hundred bucks for a simple fix can keep you from having to spend thousands of dollars later.

Watch it: “Gone in 60 Seconds: Catalytic Converter Theft” 

“CCTV Catches Catalytic Theft From Toyota Prius In Broad Day Light”

*Source: jmbullion.com

 

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On February 24, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a comprehensive package that will provide urgent relief to millions of Californians struggling with pandemic hardship, including the nearly 600,000 individuals and businesses licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (BBC).

“As millions of Californians are struggling to make ends meet amid the devastating impacts of this pandemic, we are taking immediate action in partnership with our legislative leadership to provide families and businesses the relief they need,” said Governor Newsom in a statement.

What Does This Mean for BBC Licensees?

Under the current law, licensees and licensed establishments must renew their licenses every two years. Effective immediately, this new law will exempt these individuals and businesses from paying those renewal fees for the next two years—through January 1, 2023. For information about what the law entails, visit BBC’s website, which also has a list of frequently asked questions in English, Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese.

How Will BBC Function Without This Revenue?

The legislation will appropriate $25,600,000 from the state’s General Fund to the Barbering and Cosmetology Contingent Fund, which will be used by BBC to backfill revenues relating to the fee waivers.

“This will allow our Board to continue its role to ensure the health and safety of California consumers by promoting ethical standards and by enforcing the laws of the barbering and beauty industry,” said BBC Executive Officer Kristy Underwood.

Can Other Licensees Under the Umbrella of the Department of Consumer Affairs Benefit From This Economic Relief Package?

Possibly: There are many things to consider when looking into this law. Small-business owners who hold a license with one of DCA’s entities may qualify for the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program. This legislation also affects qualified individuals who either need child care, have an income below $30,000, are attending a college or university, or all of the above. For more information, you can read the full text of the related bills by visiting these links:

  • AB 81 (Ting, Chapter 5, Statutes of 2021).
  • AB 82 (Ting, Chapter 6, Statutes of 2021).
  • AB 85 (Committee on Budget, Chapter 4, Statutes of 2021).
  • SB 87 (Caballero, Chapter 7, Statutes of 2021).
  • SB 88 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, Chapter 8, Statutes of 2021).
  • SB 94 (Skinner, Chapter 9, Statutes of 2021).
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There is a lot of truth to the adage: “The Eyes Are the Windows to The Soul.” That’s because our eyes reveal so much about us. They convey when we’re tired, sad, frightened, angry, happy and they can even help determine other potential systemic health issues such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has many people either neglecting or altering health maintenance of their eyes. Many have altered their healthcare schedules and avoided in person contact with optometrists and ophthalmologists. They are turning to virtual meetings and telemedicine to address their medical questions and concerns instead.

An AARP article from January 11, 2021 noted that there were 44 percent fewer ophthalmology visits and procedures done in 2020 than in 2019. That’s one of the biggest dips for any medical subspecialty according to findings by Strata Decision Technology.

There are preventative maintenance measures that consumers can take year-round to help ensure healthy eye care.

Since March is “National Save Your Vision Month,” now is a great time to ensure your eyes are in tip-top shape and that you take all the proper steps to keep them that way.

Many of us spend countless hours with our eyes glued to smartphones, computers, and other electronic devices, so it should come as no surprise that optometrists and ophthalmologists rank digital eye strain (DES) as one of the most common ailments among their patients.

According to the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) American Eye-Q survey (2016) noted that 58 percent of adults have experienced digital eye strain or vision problems—such as eye irritation, dryness, fatigue, and blurred vision—as a direct result of overexposure to electronic devices.

In addition, more than 40 million Americans will likely be at risk for reduced vision, cataracts, glaucoma, and other age-related macular disease.  However, many of these eye problems are preventable or curable with proper evaluation and treatment.

Even if you’re not experiencing any vision problems, don’t take your eyes for granted.  For serious eye problems it’s always best to have them examined by a licensed professional. Most eye care specialists recommend a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years.

Before making an appointment, check the license or registration status of the healthcare provider through the Department of Consumer Affairs’ License Search at https://search.dca.ca.gov/.  You can also view this information online via the board websites: Medical Board of California at www.mbc.ca.gov and the California State Board of Optometry at www.optometry.ca.gov.

Here are a few tips from AARP, The National Eye Institute, and the American Optometric Association you should “focus” on to help protect your eyes.

  • THE EYES HAVE IT— Whether you’re drilling or sawing, or just mowing your lawn, it’s important to always protect your eyes with safety goggles to prevent anything from getting into them.
  • EASY ON THE EYES— Some harsh lighting can trigger headaches. Use softer LED bulbs which dim without flickering, strobing, and glare.
  • FOLLOW THE 20-20-20 RULE—Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.
  • COMPUTER READER GLASSES— Talk to your ophthalmologist about getting a pair of computer glasses. They are specially formatted to help reduce eyestrain.
  • ZOOM IN—Maintain a comfortable working distance from your digital device(s) by using the zoom feature to see small print and details, rather than bringing the device closer to your eyes.
  • ARE YOU ROLLING YOUR EYES? —It’s OK. Rolling those eyeballs around and from side to side or even up and down a few times a day helps lubricate and strengthen your eyes.
  • HERE COMES THE SUN—Spring and summer are right around the corner. So, protect your eyes by investing in a good pair of sunglasses. Look for a pair that blocks 99 percent to 100 percent of ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Not only will your eyes appreciate the shade, but you’ll also probably look pretty cool sporting them too.

 

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