The Department of Consumer Affairs is pleased to announce the appointment today of Rebecca May as Chief of the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. Read the Governor’s press release here.
Many people don’t realize this, but maintaining your air conditioning system is important to help avoid costly repairs or breakdowns at times when it matters the most, like when the temperature is in triple digits outside. Dirt and neglect are the top causes of heating and cooling system inefficiency and failure. That’s according to Energy Star, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and improve energy efficiency. To ensure efficient system operation, it’s important to perform routine maintenance beyond simply changing the filter every month.
You can do this by calling in a licensed contractor to do annual pre-season check-ups. Ask neighbors, friends, and family for HVAC contractor recommendations. Check the status of the contractor’s license with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) before you hire at www.cslb.ca.gov. Contractors get busy once summer comes, so it’s best to check the cooling system in the spring. Energy Star recommends the following typical maintenance efforts:
- Check thermostat settings to ensure the cooling system keeps you comfortable when you are home and saves energy while you are away.
- Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system and reduce the life of major components.
- Lubricate all moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause friction in motors and increase the amount of electricity you use.
- Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central air conditioner, furnace and/or heat pump (when in cooling mode). A plugged drain can cause water damage in the house and affect indoor humidity levels. If plugged, the drain can cause water damage in the house, affect indoor humidity levels, and breed bacteria and mold.
- Check controls of the system to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to ensure the system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.
- Clean evaporator and condenser air conditioning coils. Dirty coils reduce the system’s ability to cool your home and cause the system to run longer, increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.
- Check your central air conditioner’s refrigerant level and adjust if necessary. Too much or too little refrigerant will make your system less efficient, increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.
- Clean and adjust blower components to provide proper system airflow for greater comfort levels. Airflow problems can reduce your system’s efficiency by up to 15 percent.
And remember—don’t be pressured into buying a new system, especially if it’s unnecessary. CSLB has issued warnings about upselling scams. Before replacing your system, read CSLB’s guidelines. For more tips on how to heat and cool efficiently, visit https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_hvac.
When women get their mammogram results, they may be notified that they have “dense breast tissue.” Starting in April 2013, California law requires that patients be informed if they have dense breasts, and if they do, they may want to consult with their doctor about additional screening options.
Density is apparent only in mammograms and has nothing to do with firmness. Breasts appear dense if there is a great deal of fibrous or glandular tissue, and less fatty tissue. According to the American Cancer Society, about 40 percent of women in the U.S. over age 40 have dense breasts.
Having dense breasts increases your risk of getting breast cancer—the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, with lung cancer as the number one-leading cause. A February 2017 University of California, San Francisco, study showed that women with dense breast tissue are at a greater risk for breast cancer compared to women with a family history of the disease, their own history of benign lesions, or a first full-term pregnancy over age 30. However, it’s still not understood why there is a link. But what is clear is that dense breast tissue makes it more difficult to see tumors in mammograms.
If you do receive notice that you have dense breasts, be sure to discuss with your doctor about what follow-up tests (e.g., an MRI, ultrasound, or 3D mammography) may be necessary. To check the license of a doctor, visit the Medical Board of California website at www.mbc.ca.gov.
Do you know how it feels to be adrift in one’s own mind? According to Mental Health America, one in four American adults lives with a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition. May is Mental Health Month, which began more than 65 years ago by Mental Health America to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness.
Last month, in support of mental health wellness, Assembly Bill 89, authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine, (D-Marin County), and sponsored by the California Board of Psychology, passed out of the Assembly. The bill requires applicants for licensure with the California Board of Psychology to complete a minimum of six hours of coursework or applied experience under supervision in suicide risk assessment and intervention.
“Suicide kills twice as many people in California as homicide, but not all mental healthcare providers have the training they need in suicide risk assessment and prevention,” said Assemblymember Levine. “AB 89 will save lives by making sure that psychologists have the training they need to identify suicidal individuals.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data, suicide is the third leading cause of death for Californians ages 15 to 34, and the tenth leading cause of death for Californians of all ages.
Moreover, in Sacramento County, nearly 355,000 residents live with mental illness, but research shows that only one-third of those individuals will seek help primarily due to the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.
The amount of training licensed psychologists receive varies widely from as few as six hours, to over 50. Assembly Bill 89 will standardize the minimum number of hours of suicide prevention training required for licensure in the State of California. This training can be completed through coursework, continuing education, or through applied experience.
On May 24, join mental health advocates on the East Steps of the State Capitol for Mental Health Matters Day 2017. The Each Mind Matters coalition has come together to plan and host this event to better the lives of people with mental illness.
In addition, learn more about reducing stigma and discrimination at StopStigmaSacramento.org and show your support on social media by following the project on Twitter @StopStigmaSac and be sure to ‘like’ the project on Facebook . Engage in positive mental health messages using the hashtag #StopStigma.
To check the licensing status of a psychologist, please visit the Board of Psychology’s website at www.psychology.ca.gov.
To learn more about Mental Health America, visit their website at www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may
May 7–13 is Wildfire Awareness Week, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) is urging homeowners to prepare now for the dry, flammable season ahead. California’s wet winter has brought an abundance of spring grass and brush, which, after it dries, will pose great fire danger.
Removing excess vegetation around homes and maintaining 100 feet of defensible space can raise the odds that your home—or any other structures on your property—will survive a wildfire.
CAL FIRE has launched a new app, Ready for Wildfire, which puts a library of step-by-step, wildfire preparedness checklists, emergency preparation information and more in the palm of a user’s hand. In conjunction with the app launch, CAL FIRE is sponsoring the Ready for Wildfire Sweepstakes through May 21 for a chance to win up to $10,000 when the app is downloaded or updated.
Public Service Recognition Week May 7-13, 2017
The first week of May marks Public Service Recognition Week which honors the men and women who serve our country as local, county, state and federal government employees.
These folks are the unsung heroes of government whose rank and file perform the daily tasks that keep government services rolling for all Americans. Many of these folks work behind-the-scenes and out of the limelight, but their dedication to their jobs benefits everyone.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines public service as “governmental employment” and civil service which it defines as “the branch of a government that takes care of the business of running the government and its programs.”
At the California Department of Consumer Affairs, our civil servants help to keep Californians safe as our 39 boards, bureaus, committees and commissions license and regulate many professions. Some of these professions are pharmacists, dentists, engineers, accountants, cosmetologists, contractors, physicians, psychologists, security guards, real estate agents, architects and court reporters, to name a few. For a full list of Department of Consumer Affairs licensing boards, bureaus, committees and commissions, click HERE.
The department also has staff that provides services to the boards, bureaus, committees and commissions. The various offices include the dedicated employees in Division of Investigation, Division of Legislative and Regulatory Review, Equal Employment Opportunity, Executive, Information Security, Internal Audits, Legal Affairs, Administrative Services, Professional Examination Services, Information Services, Communications, Strategic Planning and Development and Training Solutions.
We tip our hats to all civil servants and thank you for your service. Good government could not operate without you!
Public Service Recognition Week is organized annually by the Public Employees Roundtable and its member organizations to honor public service and connect citizens with their government. This week all across the country, mayors, governors, agency leaders, communities and public service organizations participate by issuing proclamations; hosting award ceremonies and special tribute events; and delivering messages about the value of public service.
With low inventory levels and a strong housing sellers’ market in California, you may be thinking it’s a good time to sell your home—or start making some improvements in preparation of selling. A few upgrades may be the difference between a disappointing home-selling experience and finding a buyer willing to pay your asking price or maybe a little more.
So, without draining your bank account, what can be done to your house to maximize its value when it comes time to sell? Below are some home improvement projects that are relatively inexpensive—a few thousand dollars or less, and much less in some cases—that could be the difference in convincing potential buyers that yours is the perfect home for them.
Fresh paint. This is an inexpensive first step, along with a thorough cleaning, that should be done by nearly all homeowners ready to sell. The scuffs and seemingly minor blemishes you may have gotten used to can turn off a potential buyer. Avoid bold colors. The purple your son or daughter may be fond of in their bedroom may make others cringe. Real estate agents recommend staying neutral with colors to appeal to the most buyers.
Front-yard facelift. In short, curb appeal is crucial—and first impressions count. Having a nice yard tells people you take pride in the home and it is well cared for. Small upgrades like a paver pathway or adding new bark mulch under a tree can have a significant impact. A splash of color with some fresh flowers or a few bright planted pots is an easy way to perk up a front yard. Be sure your shrubs and hedges are trimmed; crisp lawn edges are always a nice touch.
Front door. A new or repainted front door can be an easy and fairly inexpensive way to make a positive initial impression with prospective buyers. It’s a custom touch that adds visual appeal and can set your home apart from similar-looking facades in the neighborhood.
Lighting. Experts universally agree that dark spaces are not appealing. Adding canned or recessed lighting to a bathroom or kitchen can dramatically alter a room’s appearance. Because electrical jobs can be tricky and potentially dangerous for novices, hiring a qualified contractor may be a wise choice. The Contractors State License Board is a good place to start, with the “Check a License” online tool providing information on whether a contractor is licensed, insured, and in good standing. CSLB licenses nearly 300,000 contractors in 43 different classifications.
Bathroom. A few upgrades can enhance the appearance of a bathroom immensely. Replacing dated fixtures or adding a mirror can provide a modern look, and re-grouting a shower may be well worth the time and effort.
Kitchen. Experts often single out the kitchen as a potential deal-breaker when it comes to selling a home, but it’s easy to spend a lot of money on upgrades. Because kitchens are often a matter of personal taste and may be overhauled by new owners anyway, focus on any negatives that could be potential turnoffs. Have you been getting by with a particularly old dishwasher or microwave? Could your cabinets use new hardware or refacing? Does the counter tile grout need a good scrubbing? When it comes time to show the home, avoid cluttered countertops by putting away everything but absolute necessities—the more visible counter space the better.
Flooring. Experts say that old, worn, or dirty flooring can be a major buyer turnoff. As a starting point, any carpets should be thoroughly cleaned, with particular attention paid to the entryway area. If deep-cleaning isn’t going to be enough to revive your carpets—and you can afford it—consider investing in new carpets or engineered wood flooring. If you already have wood flooring, brighten them up with a mopping or other product treatment.
If you decide to hire a contractor for any home improvement projects, remember that anyone who contracts to perform work in California valued at $500 or more for combined labor and materials costs must have a valid CSLB license. The CSLB website provides information on finding and hiring the right type of contractor and on home improvement contracts.
If you’re looking for a real estate agent, or have any questions about buying or selling a home, the Bureau of Real Estate offers a license search, consumer information, and more in the “Consumers” section of its website.
National Nurses Week is one of the nation’s principal health care calendar events, giving recognition to all those in the nursing profession and sharing nursing education with the public.
Supported by the American Nurses Association (ANA), this week-long celebration of the nursing community occurs during the same week every year, commencing on National Nurses Day, May 6 and culminating on May 12, the birth-date of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.
Nurses do more than put bandages on cuts and bruises.
The ANA defines the profession of nursing as “the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, facilitation of healing, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations.”
The California Department of Consumer Affairs, through the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) and the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT), licenses professional nurses.
Both boards encourage industry members and partner organizations to use this week long celebration as an opportunity to engage with their surrounding communities to promote the array of career opportunities available to everyone, regardless of sex, ethnic or socio-economic background.
The California Department of Consumer Affairs along with BRN and BVNPT, salute nurses in California, across the nation and beyond.
Maintaining harmony in life is a balancing act—keeping that balance may be more challenging for those who can’t hear well or have speech problems. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has designated May as Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) in order to raise awareness about communication disorders, remove the mystery surrounding them, and let everyone know where to seek help.
Even just going through a normal day can affect your hearing:
Speech disorders occur when a person can’t produce sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with their voice. Language disorders occur when a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language) or sharing thoughts, ideas and feelings completely (expressive language).
Fortunately, there are professionals who can help.
Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems? The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and the Hearing Health Foundation reports that:
- 40 million Americans have communication disorders
- 6–8 million Americans have some form of language impairment
Audiologists provide care in the prevention, identification, diagnosis, and treatment of hearing, balance, and other auditory disorders for people of all ages. Statistics show that:
- Approximately 36 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss
- One in five Americans have hearing loss in at least one ear
- Approximately 26 million Americans, ages 20–69, have high frequency hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises
The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Speech-Language, Pathology & Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board regulates licensees in both of these professions. To check on the license of a hearing aid dispenser, speech-language pathologist or audiologist, please visit the Board’s website at http://www.speechandhearing.ca.gov/
Considering a career in nursing is a smart move for high school or college students or those thinking of a career change. According to a 2015 survey conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, 50% of the registered nurse (RN) workforce is age 50 or older and many will be retiring in the next 10 years. This, coupled with an increase in the health care needs of an aging baby boom population, means RNs will be in high demand during the next decade. In fact, by 2024, the California Employment Development Department projects there will be 105,000 RN job openings in the state.
Nurses are the backbone of the medical community and they play an important role in health care. Every day, they make a positive difference in the lives of others.
RNs care for patients, keep records, administer medication, consult with other healthcare providers, monitor patients and educate individuals and family. They also have to stay up-to-date on new technology and tools. Nurses provide care to patients and families and support to doctors and other healthcare professionals involved in the care of their patient.
RNs can work in hospitals, clinics, schools, medical offices, nursing care facilities and correctional facilities. They also serve in the military. RNs may work with children in pediatrics, with newborns in neonatal care, with seniors in geriatrics and with women giving birth in the delivery room. They can also work in orthopedics, pain management, post-anesthesia care and a number of other health care fields.
A nursing career offers a flexible work schedule and an average income ranging from $60,700 to $162,900. While in the past nurses have mostly been women, more and more men are choosing careers as registered nurses.
There are many paths you can take to become an RN. The California Board of Registered Nursing, the agency that licenses and regulates registered nurses, has resources available to help you explore and plan your nursing career. For information on how to become a registered nurse, visit the board’s website here.
The board has also created a brochure to encourage and help you as you consider this important career. You can view it here.
For more information on the Board of Registered Nursing, visit www.rn.ca.gov.