‘Fight the Bite!’ by Reducing Mosquitoes Around Your Home

shutterstock_145890299We’re still in the thick of it. Both mosquito and West Nile virus activity peak from June to September, and the hotter the weather, the faster mosquitoes reproduce. The Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District (District) strongly urges everyone to “Fight the Bite!” and take all mosquito prevention and protection measures.

Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying—they can pose a serious threat to public health. They can transmit and spread diseases such as West Nile virus, canine heartworm, Western equine encephalomyelitis virus, St. Louis encephalitis virus, and malaria.

Since water is necessary to the lifecycle of a mosquito, anything that holds water for even a few days quickly becomes a breeding ground for these insects. To control their production and protect your health, the District advises the seven Ds:

  • Drain standing water
  • Dawn and Dusk are times to avoid being outdoors
  • Dress appropriately when going outside
  • Defend yourself with an effective insect repellent
  • Doors and window screens should be in good working condition
  • District can be contacted for more information

Mosquito sources around homes include fish ponds, swimming pools and spas, tree holes, bird baths, pet water bowls, and roof gutters.

For more information about controlling mosquitoes around your home or to report mosquito sources to the District, call (800) 429-1022 or go to the Fight the Bite! website at www.fightthebite.net.

New Rebate Programs Promote Water Conservation

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has announced two new rebate programs that benefit Californians who replace water-guzzling lawns and inefficient toilets to conserve water during the State’s historic drought.

The rebate programs are financed by the Proposition 1 water bond that was approved by voters last year. The programs will help carry out Governor Brown’s April 1 Executive Order to further reduce water use in homes by replacing more than 10 million square feet of lawn and upgrading more than 60,000 toilets.

The programs, overseen by DWR, provide a $100 consumer rebate to replace one old toilet per household and up to $2 per square foot for replacing lawns. Consumers can apply for the rebates by visiting SaveOurWaterRebates.com.

save our waterWith $24 million in Proposition 1 funding, the lawn replacement program will rebate up to $2,000 per household through State or local turf replacement programs. Consumers are eligible to replace grass that is living or dead at the time of the rebate application (bare earth areas with no sign of turf are not eligible). The program will be monitored by DWR and administered by the Electric & Gas Industries Association.

The $6 million toilet rebate program will help Californians replace about 60,000 old toilets with high-efficiency ones.

To learn about the actions the State has taken to manage its water system and cope with the impacts of severe drought, visit Drought.CA.gov. You can also find more ways to conserve at SaveOurWater.com.

Consumers who hire a contractor for a home project such as replacing a lawn should keep in mind that anyone who contracts to perform work in California valued at $500 or more for combined labor and materials costs must have a valid license from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). The CSLB website’s “Consumers” section provides information on finding and hiring the right licensed contractor at www.cslb.ca.gov.




Check Out the Summer 2015 Issue of Consumer Connection

cons connThe cemetery you visit may look a bit different than it usually does. Cemeteries must follow Governor Brown’s April 2015 Executive Order to conserve water, which may impact the appearance of the property. The summer 2015 issue of DCA’s award-winning magazine the Consumer Connection has details about how cemeteries licensed by the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau must comply.

Thinking about doing some home improvements? Read the article, “Home Improvement Projects That Will Pay Off” to find out how to get the most bang for your buck. Plus, read about the pros and cons of artificial turf, how to choose a real estate agent, getting out safe in a home emergency, water safety for kids, how to protect your phone beyond the kill switch, and more!

Visit the DCA website to download or read the magazine. You can also pick up a printed copy in the DCA Headquarters lobby at 1625 North Market Boulevard in Sacramento. Or, to have it mailed to you at no charge, call (866) 320-8652 or send an e-mail request to consumerconnection@dca.ca.gov. Get connected!

Hot Weather Can Harm Pets

Hot dog

For our four-legged friends, warm summer days can spell trouble in the form of heat stroke and heat-related injury.

Dr. Beth Parvin, a consultant with the California Veterinary Medical Board, warns that heat stroke in pets is a medical emergency that can quickly turn deadly. She advises that even after pets are removed from the heat, animals suffering from heat stroke still need immediate veterinary medical attention to avoid complications.

Dr. Parvin says leaving pets alone in a parked vehicle, even with the windows cracked, is the most frequent cause of heat stroke. Temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly soar to 140 degrees. Besides being unsafe for your animal, it’s also illegal in California.

Section 597.7 of the Penal Code states, “No person shall leave or confine an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of an animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal.”

Warning Signs of Heat Stroke:

  • Excessive panting, salivating or discomfort.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Increased heart and respiratory rate.
  • Drooling.
  • Mild weakness.
  • Disorientation.
  • Stupor.
  • Collapse.
  • Seizures.
  • Diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.
  • Coma.
  • Death.

If heat stroke is suspected, try to cool your pet off immediately and then get your pet to a veterinarian.

Home Treatment of Heat Stroke:

  • Move pet to a cool, shady area.
  • Avoid ice or very cold water.
  • Cool pet by spraying with or immersing in cool – not cold – water or wrap pet in wet towels.
  • Wet earflaps and paws with cool water.
  • Allow, but don’t force, the pet to drink cool water.

Veterinarians will treat not just the heat stroke, but also check for complications. They will:

  • Lower the animal’s body temperature to a safe range.
  • Continually monitor pet’s temperature.
  • Give fluids, oxygen and medication as needed.
  • Monitor for shock, respiratory distress, kidney failure, heart abnormalities and other complications and treat accordingly.
  • Take blood samples before and during the treatment to check the clotting time of the blood, since clotting problems are a common complication.

Seek immediate veterinary medical attention to ensure your pet’s temperature returns to and stays at normal and to ensure there are no complications. Be sure you don’t lower your pet’s temperature too much as this, too, can cause complications.

With proper care and planning, heat stroke in pets can be preventable.

The Humane Society of the United States says that brachycephalic (short-nosed) animals such as pugs, bull dogs or Persian cats, and pets with long hair are the most vulnerable to heat stroke as are dogs and cats that are young, elderly, overweight or those with heart or lung diseases.

Dr. Parvin says on hot days these pets should be kept indoors in air conditioning. She says providing outside pets with access to plenty of shade and cool water is critical to their safety during hot weather.

To avoid heat stroke, be sure to limit your pet’s exercise to early mornings or cooler evenings and avoid hot pavement or gravel that can burn tender paws. Also, don’t muzzle your dog during hot weather because panting allows them to cool off.

During periods of high temperatures, cooling centers throughout California are open to the public. Some cooling centers allow entrance to pets on leashes, depending on the location. To find a pet-friendly cooling center in your area, contact your local city or county offices.

For more information about the Veterinary Medical Board, go to http://www.vmb.ca.gov/.

New California Laws for 2015—Update

shutterstock_150165167Hundreds of laws—930 to be exact—went into effect this year. Most took effect back in January; however, a number of them went into effect on July 1. Here are a few:

Smartphone kill switches: Senate Bill 962 requires all smartphones sold in California have theft-deterring technology that allows owners to remotely disable their stolen devices.

Pet insurance: Assembly Bill 2056 requires that pet insurance policies clearly disclose details, including coverage limitations, reimbursements, waiting periods, and deductibles.

Fines for assisted living home violations: Under AB 2236, the top fine for violations of State regulations of State-licensed assisted-living homes increases from $150 to $15,000. This law is part of a package of bills that tightens California’s oversight of the State’s 7,500 assisted living homes.

Mandatory paid sick days: AB 1522 requires almost all California employers provide a minimum of three paid sick days to employees who currently receive no sick time. Employees can use the sick days starting on the 90th day of employment.

Ride-service insurance coverage: AB 2293 requires that drivers for ride-service companies, such as Uber and Lyft, must be insured during the time they have their app open but have yet to accept a call. The bill also calls on insurance companies to offer policies tailored specifically for ride-service drivers.

Lead ammunition ban: The first of three phases of AB 711, the law bans lead ammunition by barring its use for hunting in certain areas.

For more information on the laws effective in July, go to the Office of Governor’s website at http://gov.ca.gov.


Cemeteries Adhere to Drought Water Restrictions

Governor Brown’s Executive Order in April calling for a mandatory a 25 percent cut in potable water use through February 2016 means belt-tightening not only for residents and municipalities, but for commercial and industrial properties as well.

That directive includes California’s cemeteries.

The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Cemetery and Funeral Bureau (Bureau) wants to alert consumers that their local cemetery may not look as green and lush as it normally does because of the dire nature of California’s drought status. The Bureau’s latest brochure, “Cemetery Maintenance During Drought,” offers information to consumers on what they can expect from the Bureau and from cemeteries and to cemeteries on how to maintain their grounds and inform consumers about their drought-related practices. You can access the brochure online at http://www.cfb.ca.gov/consumer/drought.pdfPages from 15_244_CemFun_Drought_R1

Not all cemeteries are affected by the Governor’s Executive Order. Those that use recycled or reclaimed water are not restricted. Cemeteries with a self-sufficient water supply, such as a well, are required to reduce water use by 25 percent or limit outdoor irrigation with potable water to no more than two days per week. Cemeteries that receive their water from another source (an urban water supplier or a water utility regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission) must comply with efficiency measures implemented by their water provider.

Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations section 2333 (b)(3) states that cemeteries shall “provide a sufficient supply of water to keep cemetery grass and plants as green as seasonably possible in accordance with natural terrain, availability of water, and local or county ordinances regarding water use.”

The Bureau will continue to monitor cemeteries for compliance with State regulations, considering the watering restrictions applicable to the cemetery. The Bureau is dedicated to working with individual cemeteries based on any applicable watering restrictions for their property.

Consumers should keep in mind that the State does not license cemeteries operated by religious organizations; cities, counties, or cemetery districts; the military; Native American tribal organizations; or other groups. If you don’t know who regulates the cemetery you visit, ask the manager of the property.

For more information, visit the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau website or call the Bureau at (916) 574-7870.

Don’t Let Dry Rot Destroy Your Home

dry picOn June 16 in Berkeley, California, six students died after a balcony they were standing on collapsed. Inspection reports showed that the collapse was caused by dry rot. On July 3 in Folsom, California, a man was killed when a stairway at an apartment complex fell on him.  Dry rot is the suspected cause of the collapse.   Since then, dry rot has become a hot-button issue.

Dry rot is a type of wood-destroying fungi that compromises the structural integrity of wood due to a variety of factors, such as excessive moisture or conditions deemed likely to lead to (or cause) infestation or infection of the wood (e.g. leaking pipes or condensation).

For homeowners with raised, wooden decks and lofts who are also concerned about their safety, there are measures to take that can help to prevent or to repair structural dry rot damage.


  • Regularly inspect your wood deck/loft carefully for cracked, warped or splintered boards to see if they are soft or moist and free from any insect infestation.  If you notice any signs of damage, it may be necessary to contact a licensed professional to determine what repairs, if any, are needed.  Making a small investment early on can save a lot of money and worry down the line.
  • CHECK FOR WATER LEAKAGEMake sure there aren’t any broken water pipes or sprinklers in your yard that allow water to seep under your deck or loft.
  •  WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS TURN TO A PRO: If all this sounds like too much work, you can always hire a licensed professional.  After all, they’re trained to observe and detect things that you might overlook.
  • WHO TO CALL: The Structural Pest Control Board is here to help. If you have questions about a structural pest control company and need to verify their license status, log on to www.pestboard.ca.gov or call (916) 561-8700. You can also contact the Contractors State License Board at (800) 321-CSLB (2752) or log on to www.cslb.ca.gov to check the status of a contractor’s license.

Warning on Dangers of Cutting Weight, Dehydration

CSAC_bear_logoThe California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) and Association of Ringside Physicians are warning boxers and mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters about the risks of unhealthy weight loss—known as cutting weight—and dehydrating.

A recent study found that 39 percent of MMA fighters were entering competition in a dehydrated state, according to CSAC. Heat illness and death in athletes have occurred in MMA and wrestling.

Combat sports competitors often cut weight to qualify for a bout or fight in a specific weight class.

It has been shown that excessive or rapid weight loss and repeated “cycling” of weight gain/loss causes decreased performance, hormonal imbalance, decreased nutrition, and increased injury risk. Other serious medical conditions associated with improper weight loss and dehydration include:

Decreased muscle strength and endurance. Decreased blood flow to muscles hinders their performance.

Decreased cardiovascular function. The heart works harder and less efficiently.

Reduced energy utilization and nutrient exchange. With decreased blood flow to tissues, nutrients don’t get delivered, and the body’s waste products are not removed.

Heat illness. This takes on four forms—heat cramps, heat syncope (loss of consciousness), heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, which can be fatal. Dehydration causes a decreased ability to regulate body temperature.

Decreased kidney function. Dehydration leads to decreased kidney blood flow and urine problems. Decreased kidney function also results in electrolyte imbalances such as unhealthy increases in potassium and sodium.

CSAC warns against using extreme methods to making weight, such as excessive heat methods (rubberized suits, steam rooms, saunas) and excessive intense bouts of exercise, vomiting, laxatives, and diuretics.

The Commission recommends athletes commit to a proper diet year-round and train for proper weight control; maintain an optimum state of hydration by drinking fluids throughout the day, particularly during workouts; and be wary of nutritional supplements—they are not regulated by the federal Food and Drug Administration and some have been shown to be harmful.

For more information on the risks of extreme methods of cutting weight and dehydration, visit the CSAC and Association of Ringside Physicians websites.

Tips to Stay Safe at Your Next Salon, Barbershop Visit


Wedding season and special events have many of us visiting the salon and barbershop to get primped and pampered. What you may not realize are the dangers you could be exposing yourself to while there. The good thing is you can guard yourself and others with the right information. The Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (BBC) has launched its latest educational campaign CASafeSalon to spread the word about salon safety and infection control.

Here a few things to remember during your next visit to the salon or barbershop:

  • Make sure everyone is licensed, including the establishment. Anyone providing services needs to have a BBC license.
  • Check the cleaning logs. Footspas used for pedicures should be cleaned and disinfected after each customer.
  • Does the salon or barbershop look clean? If the place doesn’t look clean when you first walk in, you may want to visit another location.
  • Check with your barber or cosmetologist if they know whether a product contains formaldehyde-related ingredients and avoid those products.

To learn how to protect yourself and others from potential health hazards from a pedicure, a manicure, hair treatment or other salon services, visit the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology’s website.