Tips for Keeping Your Car and Family Safe: Winter Driving

Most Californians are fortunate to live in areas where the notion of “winterizing” our vehicles is not necessary, but winter driving season is near so keep reading if you live in or are planning to visit an area where the barometric pressure can take a sharp dive well before the winter solstice.

Winter Driving Image

The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) offers the following tips to keep you, your passengers, and your vehicle safe for driving this winter.


Below are procedures you may already follow for proper vehicle maintenance, but driving during inclement conditions such as snow and ice really ups the ante.

  • Start with your owner’s manual

Be sure your vehicle is up-to-date on its recommended maintenance, including changing the engine oil and filter, and adding antifreeze, coolant, brake, automatic transmission, windshield wiper and steering fluids if needed.  Be sure to use the correct engine oil because engine oil thickens below a specific temperature.

  • Carry tire chains

Practice placing the chains on your tires before venturing out.  It’s better to get the hang of it before you need to use them.

  • Check the battery

Corrosion, cracks, and dirt can affect battery cables and hinder performance.

  • Be sure your brake system is in good shape

Have a licensed adjuster check pads and linings. Visit the BAR website at to find a licensed brake station.

  •  Inspect the lights

The inspection should include turn signals, brake, fog, and high beams. Cleaning your car’s lenses can maximize visibility.

  • Check hoses and belts

Look for any cracks, soft spots, or bulges that could be a potential problem and find a qualified technician for any repairs.  Visit the BAR website ( to find a licensed auto repair technician.

  • Test your vehicle’s heater and defrost systems

Make sure they are working properly.

  • Change wiper blades

Unless you recently purchased a pair, it is best to err on the side of caution and purchase new, quality, windshield wiper blades.

  • Inspect tires

Balding or underinflated tires reduce your vehicle’s handling and traction and can be a safety hazard.  Check the air pressure in your tires regularly, including the spare.



Road trips during the winter months, although beautiful, can be dangerous.  Below are additional precautions and items you might consider bringing while traveling in winter.

  • Share your plans

Let family members or friends know your dates of travel and proposed travel route.

  • Carry a road atlas

GPS reception can become compromised in remote areas or during storms.

  •  Bring extra windshield washer fluid

During a snowy or messy day of driving, you may use your windshield wipers and the washer fluid more than usual.

  • Fill’er up!

Your vehicle may become your life source should you become stranded during a winter road trip.  The more fuel you have, the longer the vehicle can idle to heat the interior of the car in an emergency.

  • Pack on the pounds

Keep sand bags or two 20-pound bags of kitty litter in the trunk to help add weight to improve rear wheel traction.  Sand and liter can also be spread on the ground in front of or behind wheels to provide traction if you get stuck in the snow.


Pack a winter safety kit with the following essentials.

  • Jumper cables
  • NOAA Weather radio with re-chargeable battery and crank power option and phone/tablet charger through USB connection and flashlight
  • Extra batteries for smartphone
  • Basic first-aid supplies
  • Bottled water and non-perishable snacks
  • Fleece blankets
  • Extra clothing
  • Road safety flares
  • Windshield ice-scraper and brush
  • Tool kit
  • Cellphone and car charger

The Bureau of Automotive Repair has created a brochure with the above tips and more ( to help you get your vehicle winter road trip ready.

Board of Optometry Wants You!


The California Board of Optometry is recruiting Subject Matter Experts to assist in the Board’s Law Exam Development Workshops. The next workshop is scheduled for November 2, 2015.

Contribute to the profession of optometry by becoming a Subject Matter Expert and assisting the Board in upcoming workshops. Experts have the opportunity to meet and work with other licensed optometrists from around the State on the development, review, and grading of the California Law and Regulation Examination (CLRE). Many experts find the experience very rewarding and choose to return year after year.

For more information and to register, click here or visit the Board of Optometry’s Web site.

Board of Chiropractic Examiners: New Pubs Online

                      BCE About the Board          BCE cons guide

Looking for concise explanations of what chiropractic care is and what the Board of Chiropractic Examiners (Board) does? The Board has two new publications available that may have the answers to your questions

First, there’s the Board’s new About Us publication, available online in English and Spanish.

Here’s a quick sampling of some of the information you can find in About Us

  • Chiropractic is a health care profession that emphasizes the power of one’s own body to heal itself, without the use of drugs or surgery.
  • The Board licenses and regulates California chiropractors who provide chiropractic care in a variety of settings.

The second new publication from the Board is A Consumer’s Guide to Chiropractic Care, also available online in English and Spanish. Read through the pamphlet and find out important information such as what happens during a chiropractic adjustment, how to select a chiropractor, what to expect at your appointment, and how to file a complaint.

To download the publications, visit the Board’s website at, or contact the Board at (916) 263-5355 or by e-mail at

Updated Consumer’s Guide to Auto Repair

BAR_ConsumerGuide_CVRWBIf you’re like most Californians, you depend on your vehicle. When it needs service or repair, you want the work done quickly, correctly, and at a reasonable cost.
By following the tips in the recently updated Consumer’s Guide to Auto Repair from the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), you can keep your vehicle in good condition and ensure a good working relationship with your auto repair shop.
For more valuable consumer information from BAR, visit or call toll-free at (800) 952-5210.

CalBRE: Sales Materials Can’t Imply Agent Is Independent of Broker


The California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) issued an advisory informing licensees that sales materials cannot contain terms that imply the existence of a real estate entity independent of a licensed broker and that sales agents owning a fictitious business name or “team name” must include both a team member license number and broker license number on all sales materials. Sales materials include “for sale” signs and print and electronic media.

Click here to see the advisory.

Midwives Move to Medi-Cal

Midwife_Cvr2Affordable access to midwives’ services—and, consequently, home births and birth center deliveries—will soon get easier.

Last week, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 407 (Morrell) into law, allowing licensed midwives to provide comprehensive services to Medi-Cal patients. The new law means a greater number of low-income women can choose to use a midwife and, as a result, have access to a range of prenatal and postpartum support. Services can include nutrition assessments, breastfeeding counseling, childbirth and parenting education, and mental health services.

In addition to allowing for more provider choices to low-income women, the law should save the State money. According to the author’s comments on the bill, using a licensed midwife for a home or birth center delivery can save up to 80 percent compared to the cost of a hospital birth. Also, “Increasing the number of comprehensive perinatal Medi-Cal providers alleviates wait times and access issues within the overall perinatal health delivery system, allowing women to receive timely and personalized care.”

A California-licensed midwife is a health care practitioner who can attend to normal childbirth cases and provide prenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum care, according to the Medical Board of California (Board). In order for pregnancy and childbirth to be defined as normal, certain conditions must exist, such as a single fetus, absence of disease during pregnancy, and no pre-existing maternal disease of condition that would affect pregnancy.

For more information about midwives and their services and licensing requirements, read the article “California Midwives: Delivering Health Care at Home,” in the summer issue of DCA’s Consumer Connection magazine, and visit the Board’s website at


If you’re considering doing renovations on your home, it pays to do some research on the company you plan to hire. We’ve all heard the horror stories about people who have had bad contractor experiences, whether it’s sloppy workmanship, cost overruns or even worse, a contractor who takes your money upfront and doesn’t return to do any work whatsoever.

contractor blog photo

What can you do to protect yourself from phony contractors and not get ripped off?

The first and most important thing, says Steve Breen, a spokesperson for the Contractors State License Board, is to hire a licensed contractor. “You’re at a greater risk of being exposed to shoddy or even dangerous work by hiring an unlicensed contractor,” Breen says. “So we really warn consumers—especially seniors who are often targeted–to not just take a contractor’s word that they are licensed, but to also check their credentials thoroughly.”

Breen says contracting without a license can carry a penalty of up to $5,000 and up to six months in jail for first-time offenders. Contractors who also fail to mention in advertisements that they are licensed can be fined up to $1,000.

The Contractors State License Board’s website,, provides consumers quick and easy access to check a contractor’s credentials and license history .

Here are a few additional tips to consider when hiring a contractor.

    • NO PRESSURE—Watch for contractors who use pressure tactics such as “limited time offers” that require you to make hasty decisions and hire them on the spot.
    • SAY WHAT? –Never enter into a verbal agreement with a contractor. Get all the work you’re requesting in writing just in case disputes arise. You should never pay a contractor the total amount for services up front. In California, contractors are only entitled to deposits of 10 percent of the total cost of the job or $1,000—whichever is less—unless the contractor has a special bond.
    • KEEP YOUR CASH–If a contractor insists you pay with cash, beware. Always pay for your services with a check or credit card. This protects you in case the contractor botches the job and or fails to complete the work. In addition, you can call your bank and put a stop payment on a check and depending on your bank/credit card provider, cancel the payment and have it refunded back to you.
    • CLICK OR CALL CSLB–For more information about hiring licensed contractors, check out the CSLB website or call 1- 800-321-CSLB (2752). You also can sign up for CSLB email alerts.

Going for Gold: Statewide Golden Lawn Contest


Letting your lawn go gold not only helps conserve water during our historic drought—you may have a chance to win a substantial credit toward your water bill if you enter the Golden Lawn Contest sponsored by Golden State Water Company and California’s Statewide conservation education program, Save Our Water.

“The majority of California’s residential water use is for outdoor irrigation, and this contest is a great opportunity to both recognize customers who are using water responsibly and embrace lawns that have gone gold,” said Denise Kruger, Senior Vice President of Regulated Utilities for Golden State Water.

Entering the contest is easy: Submit a photo of your golden lawn by Tuesday, September 29 for a chance to win the first-place prize: A $100 credit on your water bill, or second prize: A $50 credit on your water bill. Prizes will be awarded on September 30. Photos can be submitted via email at or sent to @GoldenStateH2O on Twitter using the #GoGoldCA hashtag.

For information on contest guidelines and submission details, visit or For updates and information about the drought and conservation, follow Golden State Water (@GoldenStateH2O) and Save Our Water (@SaveOurWater) on Twitter.

DEA Prescription Drug Take-Back is Saturday

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This Saturday, get rid of unused, expired and unwanted drugs at the 10th Annual DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

On September 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., hundreds of locations throughout the state will accept unneeded and expired prescription drugs, including controlled substances, for safe and legal disposal.

The Take-Back event aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the public about the potential for the abuse of medications.

The family medicine cabinet is where many drug abusers get prescription medications that they use to get high. Anyone who has access to that bathroom – including teens, relatives, guests and workers in your home – can remove some or all of the medications. Prescription painkillers are especially sought out by abusers, as are muscle relaxants and anti-anxiety medications.

Prescription drug abuse has been declared a national epidemic and thousands of people die every year from overdoses and poisonings. Studies show that many of those prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends.

In the previous nine nationwide Take-Back events for the last four years, 4,823,251 pounds or 2,411 tons of drugs were collected.

To find a collection site near you, go to .

National Preparedness Month: Don’t Wait. Communicate.

shutterstock_209851783The recent Northern California wildfires may have you thinking about what you would do in case of an emergency. Are you prepared to evacuate if necessary? Do you have a plan for you, your family and your pets?

September is National Preparedness Month and it’s the perfect time to plan for an emergency situation.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends the following:

Make a disaster kit: Create a disaster kit that includes food, water, and medications in sufficient quantities to last for at least 72 hours.

Make a plan: Create a plan to communicate with your family in case of an emergency. Have important contact information that includes phone numbers, email address and medical information.

Pick a meeting location: When you identify a meeting location for your family, decide on safe, familiar places where your family can go for protection or to reunite in case you are separated.

  • Make sure these locations are accessible for household members with disabilities or access and functional needs.
  • If you have pets or service animals, think about animal-friendly locations.

Examples of meeting places:

  • In your neighborhood: A mailbox at the end of the driveway, or a neighbor’s house.
  • Outside of your neighborhood: A library, community center, place of worship, or family friend’s home.
  • Outside of your town or city: A home of a relative or family friend. Make sure everyone knows the address of the meeting place and discuss ways you would get there.

Practice: Have regular household meetings to review your emergency plans, communication plans, and meeting place after a disaster. Then, practice just as you would for a fire drill.

Use the FEMA App: FEMA has a free mobile app for Apple, Android, and Blackberry devices available in English and Spanish that offers:

  • Tips on surviving disasters, and ways to customize your emergency checklist and save meeting locations.
  • Receive alerts form the National Weather Service.
  • Locate open shelters and Disaster Recovery Centers.
  • Upload and share your disaster photos.
  • Stay connected on social media and to the FEMA blog.
  • Go to

For more information about disaster preparedness, visit