Educate Yourself and Protect Your Identity

We’ve all heard of the news about Equifax and the astonishing number of 143 million individuals whose personal information may have been stolen by hackers. With so many media outlets providing coverage on this issue, it’s hard not to panic and worry about whether you are one of the victims. Since we have been let down Equifax and its security systems, we are now the ones to bear the burden of protecting ourselves from identity theft. Even if you feel that your information has not been compromised, you need to proceed as if you are one of the victims.

The most important thing you need to do is to educate yourself on what is happening, what are the implications, what to look out for, and what actions you need to take. You need to be aware of the gravity of this situation and know how this can potentially affect your life. There are dozens of articles being published by the hour on this issue. Reading even one article will give you a better knowledge on what you need to do to protect yourself.

As terrible as this is already, there are scammers out there who would use this opportunity to try to deceive people into give out their personal information. For example, if you receive any calls or emails from someone claiming to be from Equifax, do not release any of your personal information. Check the scam or fraud alerts online and educate yourself on the existing and new scams.

There are many different things you can do to protect your identity, but it’s ultimately up to you to take action. The following are links to some articles and resources you can use to protect yourself now and in the future.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-equifax-credit-freeze-20170913-story.html

http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2017/09/heres_what_not_to_do_after_the.html

http://www.ocregister.com/2017/09/13/after-the-equifax-hack-should-you-freeze-your-credit/

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts

Are You Prepared to Evacuate?

Millions of people have been affected by the natural disasters that occurred recently. The hurricanes and earthquake have destroyed countless homes, buildings, and even took the lives of innocent people. As residents of California, we do not have to worry about hurricanes, but we do have other natural disasters to fear, such as earthquakes and wildfires.

Ask yourself: if a mandatory evacuation was ordered in your area, are you ready to leave? Do you know who to call? Do you know what to take? Do you know where to go? Depending on the situation or the type of natural disaster, you may only get a moment’s notice before you need to evacuate your home.

As the news broadcasts and headlines have portrayed, millions of people in Florida were ordered to evacuate, which has caused panic, stress, traffic, and a shortage of many necessities such as food, water, and gas. As a Californian, even if you cannot fathom the idea of being in a similar situation, you need to be prepared so that you are not completely helpless if a disaster strikes.

Articles published by AARP and the Los Angeles Times will give you some ideas on how to prepare for an emergency. It is an extremely good investment to buy a fire-proof lock box to keep important documents, such as copies of driver’s license, passport/green card/visa, Social Security card, any insurance papers, credit cards, medical prescriptions, birth/marriage certificates, and some cash. You should keep this box somewhere hidden, but also in a convenient place to grab and go when needed. Along with this box, you should have a bag or a backpack with a few necessities, such as a first-aid kit, flashlight, non-perishable food, bottles of water, change of clothes, and any medication you take should also be organized and within reach.

Being prepared to evacuate can be more complex and difficult if you have kids or pets, have a disability, or have no means of transportation. Make sure you take a few minutes to think about how you will save your kids and pets. What will you pack for them? Do they have any special needs that require your attention? If you have a disability or have no means of transportation and you are living alone, you should take this opportunity to speak to your family, friends, or neighbors about an evacuation plan.

Make sure to read the full articles published by AARP and the Los Angeles Times to get more ideas on being prepared for an emergency.

Resources: http://www.aarp.org/home-family/your-home/info-2016/hurricane-survival-preparedness-tips.html?intcmp=AE-HP-FLXSLDR-SLIDE1-RL2

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-emergency-supplies-20170908-story.html

Mosquitoes & West Nile Virus

Earlier in August, there were a few articles published by the Orange County Register stating that a few cities had mosquitoes that were infected with the West Nile Virus – these cities included Costa mesa and La Habra. There was one woman in Laguna Beach who tested positive for this virus, which was the first case to be reported in 2017.

According to the Los Angeles Times, as of September 1st, there have been three people who passed away from the West Nile virus. According to the California health officials, these three individuals lived in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Kern Counties. There were 19 people in California who died from the virus in 2016.

The West Nile virus exists mostly in birds, but mosquitoes can be infected when biting them. Thus, people who get bitten by the infected mosquitoes will carry the disease. Everyone should be wary of the West Nile season, which usually starts during the summer and ends during fall season. The Department of Public Health has stated that it is a deadly disease and the elderly are particularly susceptible.

Most people don’t realize that they are being bitten by a mosquito until after it happens. If you are out camping or have a mosquito in your home, it can even bite you in your sleep without you knowing. The article states that most people who are bitten by an infected mosquito won’t notice any symptoms, but a small number of them can develop encephalitis or meningitis that can be fatal.

The health officials are recommending that people wear insect repellent and try to cover as much skin as possible when going outside, especially during dawn and dusk. It is also recommended that people drain any water from flower pots or buckets so that mosquitoes won’t be able to lay eggs.

Visit the following links to read more about the West Nile virus, and remember to alert your neighbors and friends to spread awareness.

Resources: http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-ln-west-nile-20170901-story.html

https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html

Driving Tips for Back-to-School Season

It’s back-to-school season, which means there will be more kids out on the streets daily. Whether you have kids of your own, pass by schools, or live in a neighborhood with kids, it’s important to keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Watch out for pedestrians – you might not see them starting to cross at an intersection if you don’t take your time to look carefully – also watch out for those that ride bikes to school.
  2. Check your blind spots – pedestrians and bikers can “come out of nowhere”. Pedestrians, especially children, might assume that you saw them and you will stop for them.
  3. Slow down in school zones – the speed limit around a school is usually a lot slower, so there might be a sudden slowdown depending on the traffic and the time of day.
  4. Avoid school zones if you can to possibly save some time – if you live near a school, it might help to check the school’s bell schedule to avoid the morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up traffic.
  5. If your morning/afternoon routes go through school zones, make sure you give yourself enough time so you aren’t inconvenienced by pedestrian crossing or traffic slowdown.
  6. Avoid using distractions such as a cellphone for directions or a navigation system – if needed, make sure you set up the destination and get it started before you start driving.
  7. If you are driving behind a school bus, make sure you are prepared to stop or slow down with it.
  8. If you are driving through your neighborhood, make sure you are driving below the speed limit and looking for any possible children/pedestrians darting out to cross the road. In addition, keep an eye on any cars backing out of parking spaces suddenly – we have all been there where we are late for work or school, but always make sure to stop for those cars.

These safety tips should always be remembered when you are driving, but it is extremely important to be extra alert during back-to-school season. For more information on driver safety tips, visit the AARP website and read their article.

Resource: http://www.aarp.org/auto/info-2017/school-zone-driver-safety-tips-fd.html?intcmp=AE-HP-WFY3

 

Summer Safety Tips

It’s back-to-school season, but the summer weather conditions persist across the country. If you live in Southern California, you probably know that the intense heat will continue for several more weeks. The heat may be bearable along the coast, but it can be unforgiving in the Inland Empire. As we enjoy the rest of the summer/vacation months, keep in mind the following heat safety tips provided by the American Red Cross. In addition, Red Cross has a few different apps you can download so that you can be notified of severe weather and emergency alerts.

  1. Hot cars can be deadly. Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees.
  2. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  3. Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  4. If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should seek relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day in places like schools, libraries, theaters, malls, etc.
  5. Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  6. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  7. Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  8. Postpone outdoor games and activities. The Red Cross has a First Aid, Health and Safety for Coaches online course designed to give those who take it an overview of first aid and “best practices” for many first aid situations encountered by coaches.
  9. Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
  10. Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.

HEAT EXHAUSTION Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes.

If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1.

HEAT STROKE LIFE-THREATENING Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.

Resource: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Heat-Safety-Red-Cross-Offers-Safety-Steps-When-Temperatures-Soar

Download the Red Cross App: redcross.org/apps

Financial Assistance

What state/local financial assistance is available to low-income mobilehome owners? Some programs that provide financial assistance to low-income or senior park residents include:

  • C.A.R.E. Utility Assistance: Low-income residents of master-meter mobilehome parks may qualify annually for a 20% discount on their electric or gas bills through the California Alternate Rates for Energy Program (care). For more information, check with your park management or the local gas or electric utility company listed in your phone directory.
  • Mobilehome Rehabilitation: Loans or grants are available to low-income mobilehome owners through the Department of Housing and Community Development’s CalHome program to make specified repairs on their mobilehomes. Although not all jurisdictions participate, the funds are channeled through qualified local government housing or non-profit agencies. For more information, check with your city or county housing department, authority or commission.
  • Mobilehome Park Resident Ownership Program (MPROP): On a limited basis, this program provides loans to resident organizations and non-profit organizations and 3% simple interest loans to low-income homeowners for costs involving the resident or non-profit purchase of a mobilehome park. For more information about the MPROP process and requirements, call the Department of Housing and Community Development at 916.323.3178, or at www.hcd.ca.gov/fa/mprop.
  • Section 8 Housing Assistance: Rent subsidies may be available to eligible low-income mobilehome residents who live in mobilehome parks. This program is funded by the federal government but administered by local housing agencies. Section 8 allocations are often full and many jurisdictions have waiting lists of a year or more. Not all mobilehome park owners accept Section 8 vouchers. For more information, check with your city or county housing department, authority or commission.

Resource: What Every Mobile Home Owner Should Know, published by the Senate Select Committee on Manufactured Home Communities

Loneliness: A Big Issue for Seniors

Many seniors and older adults feel disconnected from society and lose relationships as they get older. There are several of reasons for isolation in the lives of seniors. For example, retired individuals and couples can choose to move into a senior-only community, but their new home is little ways from their children and friends, thus getting less visitors throughout the years.

According to an article by AARP, a study by the University of California, San Francisco, found that about 43% of adults older than 65 felt lonely. The article quotes other studies that prove that feelings of loneliness and isolation can lead to serious health issues, and even increase the risk of mortality. For example, there are instances where after one of the elderly couple passes away, the other one “follows” and passes too.

The article also quotes the director of the University of Chicago Center for Cognitive & Social Neurosciences, who stated that loneliness is not a permanent feeling, and should be treated like physical pain or hunger. By viewing loneliness as a temporary state of mind, seniors can “treat themselves” by being proactive in their daily lives to maintain old relationships and establish new ones.

If you are a senior and are looking for ways to reconnect with society, consider the following ideas: visit or volunteer at your local community centers (senior center, animal shelter, youth center, public library, etc.), reconnect with your old friends or coworkers, or reach out to your neighbors and (extended) family. Interacting with others will give you a sense of presence in your community, and can lead to the establishment of meaningful relationships. Don’t hesitate to call your local office on aging to get more ideas on community activities and events.

If you know any seniors, whether they are your family, friends or neighbors, it helps to pay them a visit every now and then. Invite them over for tea or dinner, ask them to tell you their life stories, go on light walks, or even run errands together. Chances are, you will gain new knowledge and perspectives by spending time with seniors. Keep in mind that even small interactions or gestures can go a long way.

Reference: http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2017/isolation-loneliness-impacts-seniors-fd.html

Did You Know…

…that there are simple solutions to your pest problems? As the weather continues to be hot during the summer, your home can be a target to various types of pests. Calling pest control to can be costly, although it should be considered as an option if your home has a serious pest problem. But if you have a minor pest problem, you might be able to try a few DIY (do-it-yourself) remedies to keep your home protected.

The following are a few solutions and remedies for the pests that visit your home, published in the book Who knew? 10,001 Easy Solutions to Everyday Problems.

  1. Silverfish – put sliced lemons down where they usually appear and replace with fresh lemons every few days to keep them away.
  2. Cockroach – to get rid of them, chop cucumber skins and bay leaves, mix together, and spread around the areas where they appear.
  3. Mice/Rats – fill in any openings or gaps with steel wool, since it will kill the mice by causing internal bleeding when they ingest it. If you are using the traditional mouse traps, try using peanut butter instead of cheese, since they can’t pick it up and run away. If you don’t feel comfortable killing them, use caulk or baking soda in the crevices and hiding spots around your home.
  4. Wasps – fill a wide brim jar with 1 cup sugar and 1½ cup of water. It will attract the wasps in the water, where they will drown. If not, open the windows and turn off the lights, and wait for them to fly outside. Do not panic and try to swat them to avoid getting stung.

According to a post on mobile home best control by Mobile Home Living, you can use moth balls around your home to keep away pests from entering. The author also states that the skirting of your mobile home can act as a barrier, as long as it is installed properly and doesn’t have any holes or openings. Quality skirting can protect your mobile home, even though it is usually made of plastic.

Sources: http://mobilehomeliving.org/mobile-home-pest-control/

Who knew? 10,001 Easy Solutions to Everyday Problems by Bruce Lubin & Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin

Phone Calls: Do you know who’s really calling?

If you pick up your phone from an unknown number often, chances are, you have been contacted by some type of scam or sales call. It’s easy to hang up when it’s a pre-recorded message, but what do you do when the person on the other line is claiming to be calling from the IRS, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, or Medicare? What if they are calling from a well-known charity, such as Make-a-Wish? Your first instinct won’t be to hang up right away, so you might stay on the line to hear what they have to say. It may be harmless to do so, but what do you do when they say that you have a payment due, or asks for your Social Security number? You might feel pressured to give out your information, but always remember that scammers try to get your money in the quickest way possible. No one from the government, a charity organization, or even a tech support company should be calling you first and asking for your payment or any other personal information. In addition, if a caller says that he or she is simply calling to confirm your name and address – hang up immediately. These types of calls can come from a live phone operator or a recorded message to confirm your personal information.

Make sure to visit The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information blog page to read about the recent scam alerts. The following are a few tips from the FTC blog to keep in mind when you receive unknown phone calls.

  • The federal government would contact you by US Mail, not by phone or email first.
  • Federal agencies would not ask or demand your personal information over the phone.
  • Scammers may threaten you to give up a payment information to pressure you.
  • Do not trust a caller who asks for your bank account information or asks to wire money over the phone.
  • Free prize or winner? It’s a scam.
  • Hang up immediately if someone is calling to “just to confirm” personal information. Just because they recite your name and address, doesn’t mean that they are trustworthy.

Reference: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts

Stay Cool in Your Home

Temperatures are rising everywhere this summer, and in some places, it is unbearable without using the air conditioner. Using it often will result in high utility bills, but it is also important to keep your home under a tolerable temperature. If you are looking for ways to stay cool by not using the AC, consider adopting the following methods into your lifestyle.

During the day, close your windows and do your best to keep the sunlight from coming into your home. You might be tempted to leave the window open when there’s a breeze, but you won’t benefit from the breeze if it’s warm. In addition, avoid using appliances and lights that generate a lot of heat so that the inside of your home will be lower than outside.

Switch your bed sheets to lightweight cotton, since it is a more breathable material, and will promote ventilation and airflow in your bedroom. Choose lightweight cotton for not only your sheets, but also for your clothes.

Make your own ice packs or use chilled towels, and even take a cold shower to get some instant relief from the heat. You can also put a pan or bowl of ice in front of a fan to create a make-shift “air conditioner.”

Remember to stay hydrated. Make sure your body get enough fluids, but avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol, since they will leave you dehydrated.

If you still feel like your home is unbearable, try spending some time in buildings with AC, such as your local public library or senior/community centers.

Resource: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/08/01/8-ways-to-cool-down-your-home-without-air-conditioning/