Consumer Connection - Summer 2020

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In this Issue:

You Have Questions? We’ve Got Answers! #AskDCA

Matt Woodcheke
Consumer Connection staff

Got a question about your contractor, dentist, doctor, cosmetologist, or one of the many other professionals licensed and regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA)? Maybe you’d like to know more about how DCA helps consumers make wise purchasing decisions by informing them about the laws that protect them? Now is your chance to ask!

Submit your question via email to publicaffairs@dca.ca.gov and it may be answered in a future issue of Consumer Connection.

Please note: We are not able to answer questions regarding the status of a license application, complaint, or investigation. Some questions have been edited for clarity or brevity.

Question: My elderly neighbor doesn’t have family nearby and I’m concerned for his well-being. How can I make sure he is looked after?

Answer: A professional fiduciary, licensed by the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau (PFB), can be hired by independent, productive people who anticipate a future need in making sound financial, health care, and day-to-day decisions. If a person becomes incapacitated or dies, the professional fiduciary can manage their estate.

Services provided by professional fiduciaries may include banking, paying bills, daily care, housing, tax preparation and payment, and household maintenance and upkeep. Some services—such as insurance and medical needs, real estate and personal property, and asset distribution—may be managed by the professional fiduciary themselves, or they may hire other professionals to perform those duties.

PFB’s guide, “What You Should Know Before Hiring a Professional Fiduciary,” includes questions to ask before working with a fiduciary. The fiduciary must have an active license in good standing with PFB. You can access the guide at www.fiduciary.ca.gov, and check to make sure the professional fiduciary is licensed at https://search.dca.ca.gov.

Question: I found evidence of termites in my house. Does the whole house need to be fumigated?

Answer: A licensed pest control company must identify the presence of termites and then recommend, in writing, how to solve the problem. Fumigation is not always required, depending on the pest and the scale of the infestation.

Fumigation is an all-encompassing treatment in which the gases permeate the entire house, eradicating both visible infestations and termites that are otherwise inaccessible.

If only a small area is infested, local applications may be used. A pest control inspector will decide which treatment is necessary. You should be aware that the localized treatments will not eradicate hidden infestations elsewhere in the building.

Make sure that you’re working with a pest control professional, licensed by the Structural Pest Control Board, by checking the license at https://search.dca.ca.gov.

Question: I’ve been having trouble hearing, so I went online and bought a set of hearing aids. They don’t help. What did I do wrong?

Answer: Today’s hearing aids are designed to be programmed in a way that customizes their response for each individual’s hearing loss. When purchasing hearing aids online, you likely don’t have the benefit of the customization that you need for your hearing loss, speech discrimination ability, or noise suppression needs. Before making a purchase, make an appointment with a licensed audiologist or hearing aid dispenser for a hearing test. This test will help determine which type of aid, along with the required programming, will provide the best hearing outcome for you.

If you have questions, see the booklet “Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids for Adults” on the website for the Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board at www.speechandhearing.ca.gov.

Question: My refrigerator stopped working six months after I bought it. The company is giving me the runaround on sending a technician to fix it. What can I do?

Answer: The Bureau of Household Goods and Services regulates the appliance repair and service contract industries in California. Please file a complaint at www.bhgs.dca.ca.gov so Bureau staff can look into it.


TALKING TO YOUR CHILD ABOUT BAD NEWS
MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS OFFER TIPS FOR THESE SCARY TIMES

Matt Woodcheke
Consumer Connection staff

For much of 2020, COVID-19 has been the top story on local and national television newscasts across the country. It has featured prominently on the front pages of newspapers in large cities and small towns alike. Day after day, coverage has been dominated by an ever-rising toll of the infected and the deceased, compounded by the economic consequences.

Even for adults who have lived through recessions, terror attacks, natural disasters, and other pandemics, the news is scary. But for young children who don’t have prior experiences to which they can logically equate this crisis, and who don’t know how to adequately express their anxiety, the news may be considerably scarier.

A parent can offer their child reassurance during frightening and difficult times. Mental health professionals offer some tips to help you talk to your child about bad news:

  • Think about what you will say in advance. If you believe your child might ask questions about current events, think about what you want to say and discuss it with the other adults in your child’s life so everyone can be on the same page. Some advanced planning may make the discussion easier.
  • Make yourself available to talk with your kids on their terms. Seek out quiet moments where your child can have your full attention. Your child may feel anxious by the disruption of their routine or isolated without access to teachers and their usual peer group. It is important they know they can come to you if they have questions.
  • Remain calm, reassuring, truthful, and age-appropriate. Children react to what you say, but also the way you say it. Be mindful of your tone and body language, as they will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.
  • Provide simple, honest answers to your child, and never ignore your child’s questions. Children often imagine situations worse than reality, so ignoring or dismissing their question may cause them to dream up even more frightening scenarios.
  • Keep your responses age-appropriate. Young children should be given brief, simple information that balances facts with appropriate reassurances that adults are there to take care of them. Upper elementary-age children are more likely to ask if something bad could happen to them and may need help separating rumor from reality. For teens, issues can be discussed in more depth, and you can provide more detailed, honest, accurate, and factual information.
  • Pay attention to what children see or hear on television and online. Newscasts aimed at adult audiences are not appropriate for young audiences and may cause anxiety, confusion, or fear in young children. Try to reduce the amount of screen time focused on bad news. This includes keeping an eye on their internet browsing, where information is more likely to be sensationalized, based on rumor, or fabricated outright.
  • Above all, reassure. At the end of the conversation, reassure your children that you will do everything you know how to do to keep them safe and to watch out for them. Reassure them that you will be available to answer any questions or talk about this topic again in the future. Reassure them that they are loved.

If you need help talking to your child about bad news, a mental health professional may be able to help. The Board of Psychology (www.psychology.ca.gov) and the Board of Behavioral Sciences (www.bbs.ca.gov) regulate California’s mental health professionals. You can check their licenses at https://search.dca.ca.gov.


ESSENTIAL OILS: HEALTHFUL OR HARMFUL? Many claim benefits from the essence of plant materials, but there’s little science behind these unregulated products

Michelle McVay-Cave
Consumer Connection staff

Essential oils have existed for centuries and have been lauded for their healing and stress-relieving properties. These scented oils are derived from the essence of plant materials such as peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, ginger, and lemon. Though essential oils have been touted as a natural, homeopathic alternative to over-the-counter or prescription medications, most are not regulated. Some do not have scientific backing to prove they can aid with medical treatments.

How do the oils work? Essential oils can enter the body’s bloodstream by being absorbed through the skin when applied topically and through smell, thereby stimulating different parts of the brain through inhalation (e.g., aromatherapy). The olfactory system of the brain interprets and delivers information about the scent to the limbic system of the brain where functions such as behavior, emotions, memory, and mood are controlled.

In recent years, the practice of self-care has become an important component to overall well-being and with that, the unregulated market for essential oils—oils that have not been tested and are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—have increased in popularity. Reality shows and advertisements on television promote their various physical and mental health benefits from relieving headaches, pain, stress, insomnia, depression, and poor circulation to increased energy levels and boosting the immune system. Below is a list of popular essential oils and some of their purported benefits:

  • Lavender: Calming, reduces anxiety, promotes sleep, and relieves itching from insect bites.
  • Eucalyptus: Used as an expectorant or decongestant.
  • Ginger: Relieves constipation and nausea, pain reliever, anti-inflammatory.
  • Lemon: Mood lifting, anti-stress, also used for cleaning.
  • Peppermint: Relieves nausea, energizing.

It should be noted that scientific research does not support the benefits of essential oils. And, as stated in the February issue of Discover magazine, “plant compounds — especially in high doses — can be toxic, irritating or may cause allergic reactions or drug interactions.” Meanwhile, the positive effects of their use are anecdotal rather than rooted in science. If you have more questions about the use of essential oils, you should seek the advice of a health care or mental health professional licensed through the California Department of Consumer Affairs. Visit https://search.dca.ca.gov to verify their license and to find a professional near you.


REMODELING DO’S AND DON’TS Following the law can actually save you money … and your house

Lana K. Wilson-Combs
Consumer Connection staff

Summer may be waning, but in California, homeowners still may be considering sprucing up their property with a new landscaped yard, a remodeled bathroom, or an outdoor kitchen.

For any job that costs $500 or more in labor and materials combined, California law mandates that you hire a contractor licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Contractors State License Board (CSLB).

We’ve all heard the horror stories about some unlicensed contractors who leave jobs unfinished or poorly done. Hiring a licensed contractor can protect you from becoming a victim of such unscrupulous and fraudulent activity. You can check the status of a contractor’s license by calling (800) 321-CSLB (2752), or you can search for licensed contractors in your area using CSLB’s Find My Licensed Contractor website feature at www.cslb.ca.gov.

Here are a few other do’s and don’ts to consider before hiring a contractor:

  • Shop around for bids and references. The more the merrier. Try to get at least three bids from contractors you’re considering and ask to see their work. Don’t be afraid to contact their references to see how satisfied their clients were with completed jobs. You should also ask whether the contractor was punctual, if they were professional, and if they cleaned up during the work process.
  • Keep your cash. Don’t let a contractor pressure you to pay cash or to pay the full amount of the project upfront. It’s against the law for a contractor to demand a deposit for more than 10% of the total project costs or $1,000, whichever is less. Always pay for your services with a check or credit card. This protects you in case the contractor botches the job 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 or credit card provider, cancel the payment and have it refunded back to you.
  • Have a written contract. All projects over $500—this includes labor and materials—require a written contract. Don’t sign any part of a contract that you don’t understand. It’s best to read over it thoroughly before making any commitments.
  • Don’t be lured by lowball pricing. We all like getting a good deal, but we should be mindful of the old saying, “You get what you pay for.” Using quality materials is important when it comes to repairing anything in your home. Don’t go cheap or be lured by lowball pricing. Do your homework on the remodeling project. Check online so you’ll know what the general price is for your materials and such. That way, you will know exactly what you’re getting and not be blindsided by anything down the line.

CSLB also offers an important and comprehensive video for consumers considering home-improvement projects.

To view, visit www.cslb.ca.gov and, under the Consumer tab at the top of the page, click on the “Hire a Contractor” link.


Relocating? Some Tips for a Smooth Move To hire or not to hire, that is the Question ... Among others

Cheri Gyuro
Consumer Connection staff

A new chapter in your life might include living in a new location, once you turn the page. Before getting too excited about your new career or place to live, you’ve got to get there first.

The thought of moving might be overwhelming, but with proper organization and by making smart financial choices, hitting the road could be smooth sailing for you.

Get Smart

Utilize your smart calendar and set up a full moving schedule from start to finish. Planning ahead can help avoid any bumps in the road:

  • Schedule a moving van that you plan on driving yourself early in advance if possible.
  • If you are using a professional service, place a time on your calendar to organize the process.
  • Set up a time to purchase materials needed like boxes, packing material, tape, and markers.
  • Write down what days and times you plan to pack and unpack each room.
  • Budget time to load up your belongings, travel, and unload. Always allow extra time for mishaps.

Purge, Purge, Purge!

Before packing your possessions, purge them first. Walk through every room, skim through every drawer, closet, and cabinet, and start throwing things out. “Purging isn’t easy for all of us, but before a move, it’s one of the most important times to embrace the task,” said California interior design consultant Diana Mahoney.

Although sifting through your belongings may sound agonizing, Mahoney suggests going easy on yourself by working through one room at a time and filling up donation bags, garage sale boxes, and trash.

“Who wants to box up obsolete equipment, unnecessary paperwork, broken appliances, or clothes that are too small or outdated?” Mahoney said.

Give yourself plenty of time to arrange for donation drop-offs and pick-ups, garage sales, or trips to the landfill. Be sure to put that on your calendar!

Efficiency Is Your Best Friend

De-cluttering and organizing before your move are key to a smooth operation.

“When you arrive in your new home, you’ll have more than a fresh start!” exclaimed Mahoney, who is also a big cheerleader of putting like items in boxes and labeling them. A description of what’s inside the boxes will enable you or your movers to put them in the appropriate places at the new location.

To Hire or Not to Hire?

The average cost to move varies when it comes to distance or local moves. You can find moving calculators online to determine your specific needs. Moving can be expensive, and the cost can really add up, especially in California. There are ways to cut corners if you are moving by yourself and save a few bucks—as long as you’re prepared and willing to take some chances:

  • Try the friends-and-family discount by enlisting their help. You’ll be amazed who’s willing to pitch in, and perhaps you could return the favor one day.
  • If you do hire a licensed company, you can save money by doing the packing yourself and have it ready for the movers to load onto the van.
  • If you can afford to invest your own time into moving by yourself, it’s definitely cheaper as long as you’re prepared when the “what if” becomes “what now?” Can you afford a couple extra days if your rental truck breaks down in Timbuktu?
  • Consider the distance you are moving before doing it yourself or hiring a company. While moving by yourself might be cheaper, don’t forget about hidden costs like filling the truck with gas, per-mile fees, insurance, dollies, and hotels.

Your Time Is Worth Money—Or Is It?

Moving by yourself requires a large commitment. You have to find a rental truck, arrange to pick it up, sign papers, pack everything, load it up, drive to your destination, unload, unpack, and return the truck. It takes a lot of your own time and requires constant problem-solving such as figuring out how to fit everything into the van, mapping out your trip, and knowing when and where to get gas and potentially hotels. Sometimes hiring a moving service can be more efficient, but if you’re willing to invest your own time, doing it by yourself is definitely a cheaper alternative.

When It’s Time to Let Someone Else Take Over

Monetary costs aside, if moving becomes too big of a task, it might be time to look into having a professional take over. Do you have a lot of heavy items like a piano or large furniture? Sometimes it’s worth letting a moving company professionally handle the job. It’s very important, however, to make sure you research and invest in a reputable service:

  • Check their license to see if it’s valid and in good standing with the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Household Goods and Services (BHGS) by visiting https://search.dca.ca.gov.
  • Photograph or videotape your belongings to refer to if there is a dispute.
  • Get a copy of the moving service agreement. The moving company is required to give this to you, and it must include a “not to exceed” price.
  • If you request different or additional services at the time of your move, a change order may require you to pay extra fees. Just be aware that a change order cannot be used simply because the mover underestimated costs.
  • Don’t let movers hold your belongings hostage. It’s illegal for companies to store or hold on to your personal property and demand more money. Again, make sure the company has a license. If an unlicensed company does this, there’s really no recourse for the consumer.

Go on Offense to Ward Off Rodents, Ants, and Termites Trimming trees, closing gaps, keeping your house clean are among many strategies to prevent infestations

Ryan Jones
Consumer Connection staff

No one wants to cohabitate with pests. Hearing the faint scurrying of rats behind the walls of your home or coming across a parade of ants on a kitchen counter can be unnerving and unhealthy. But there are proactive strategies homeowners can take to minimize the chance of a move-in by pesky pests.

RODENTS

Gaps and openings in windows and doors. Any broken windows that may have gone unrepaired or screens that have been ripped should move to the top of the to-do list. Other less obvious spots to watch for include a door that does not close flush with the door frame or that has gaps on the bottom or sides. This includes the garage door. Pest control experts say that rats can crawl through a space the size of a quarter and mice can get through a space the size of a dime. Any gaps should be blocked or fixed.

Trees. Trees close to a house can provide valuable shade for any home, but they can also act as a natural ladder rats use to get to the roof and attic. If you have a tree that is close enough for limbs to overhang the roof, then rodents have direct access. Any branches making contact with the roof should be trimmed back. Trees can be an issue from the other end as well. Mature trees with large root systems can bully their way through practically anything, from water pipes to the foundation of a house. Any of these cracks or holes will give rodents an easy entryway into a home in places that can be difficult for a homeowner to access. Rats are always scavenging for food, and fruit-bearing trees can be a smorgasbord. If the fruit get overripe and fall, be sure to pick them up right away.

Trash cans. Where you store your trash cans, and the condition of the cans and lids are important to check. Be sure the lids are intact without holes or cracks. Also, a lid left ajar or propped open because the can is overstuffed can be an invitation for rodents. Check the area where cans are stored to make sure there is no garbage, especially food scraps, on the ground.

Pet food and bird feeders. Californians are blessed with mild weather much of the year and our pets benefit as well, with many living outside year-round. But dog and cat food dishes left outside can be an open invitation for rodents. And because rats are nocturnal, it becomes a bigger problem if food is left out overnight. If you are going to leave out seed in a bird feeder, make sure the feeder is off the ground or table and positioned away from anything that could be used by rats as an entry point.

ANTS

An ant infestation isn’t the worst pest problem you can have since most species of ants found in the home do no real damage. But no one wants to see a marching band of ants on the kitchen counter. The large majority of ant species are garden dwellers that do more good than harm by aerating soil and providing food for birds and other animals, but they can sometimes spread bacteria.

Carpenter ants, which are found in California, are less common but more destructive. They don’t consume wood like termites, but they do burrow through and excavate it in large numbers, which can compromise the integrity of a structure.

The University of California Integrated Pest Management Program provides these recommendations to avoid an infestation:

  • Trim tree branches and shrubs away from structures to prevent access.
  • Seal off potential entry points such as where utility lines enter a structure.
  • Reduce mulch around building perimeters to a depth of 2 to 3 inches to discourage nesting.
  • Replace decayed or damaged wood and correct problems that cause decay such as clogged rain gutters or leaky pipes.
  • Increase ventilation to damp areas such as attic or subfloor spaces.
  • Store firewood off the ground and several feet away from structures.

Ants are social creatures that form nests. Because of this, an ant infestation is rarely controlled by only spraying the visible ants—there are hundreds if not thousands ready to take their place on the same trails that lead to a pet’s bowl or along the baseboard of a home.

“The problem is they can really proliferate,” Jody Gangloff-Kauffman, the director of the Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University, told Consumer Reports. “By the time you start spotting them inside your house, you already have hundreds.”

Here are tips to prevent a home invasion for common ant species:

Identify the trails. The key first step is to identify the trails used by worker ants to move to and from the nest. Any visible ants moving inside your home are seeking food, and once an ant finds some, it carries it back to the nest. This leaves a chemical path, or trail, for its fellow worker ants to follow to collect more food. This behavior is what makes it possible to most effectively combat ants, since you can now fool the worker ants into bringing some form of poisoned food (ant bait) back to the nest.

Use ant bait indoors. Avoid the temptation to simply use pesticides to spray visible ants along trails in your home. It’s unlikely you’ll ever make real progress, according to pest control specialists, to eliminate an infestation. Instead, use these worker ants as the ticket into the colony by placing ant bait for them to carry back to the out-of-sight nest.

Ant baits are edible materials—typically sweet, sugary carbohydrates—mixed with substances that are toxic to ants but that have minimal toxicity to animals and people. Some ant baits are primarily made from boric acid, a natural substance that is entirely nontoxic to humans.

Whatever form of ant bait you use, try to place it close to visible ant trails but outside the reach of pets and children. It will work most effectively if you keep other surfaces clean so the bait is the only sweet substance available to attract the ants.

Keep it clean. Sanitation is critical for the prevention and control of any pest. Like all living creatures, ants need water, food, and shelter for survival. Don’t make it easy for them! Keep foods sealed, floors swept, and all surfaces clean. Be especially careful to keep things clean while you are using ant bait so that it’s the only thing available to the ants. However, don’t wipe out the ant trails until you have eliminated the infestation: These trails will allow ants to find the bait and carry it back to the nest.

Seal entry points. Ants can enter homes and buildings through minute cracks and crevices. To minimize this, seal around windows and doors and all cable, pipe, and wire entry points. Regularly inspect foundations for tiny cracks through which ants can gain entry to your home.

TERMITES

Damaging and often costly, termites are difficult to deter. And usually the discovery of termites comes with an inspection by a licensed pest control professional. Experts recommend being on the lookout for signs of termites and eradicating them as quickly as possible to limit damage. Among the signs of a possible termite infestation are hollowed out and damaged wood, particularly exposed joists or subfloors, and mud tubes, which termites build to gain ground-to-structure access where they do their damage. Termites are known for being very adaptive, although they tend to flourish and be most problematic in the spring and summer.

If you suspect you have a termite problem, or have tried but cannot get rid of any other pest in your home, it’s wise to call a professional. The Structural Pest Control Board, under the umbrella of the Department of Consumer Affairs, licenses all pest control specialists in California. Verify a professional’s license at https://search.dca.ca.gov.


A Day in the Life of California Licensed Services Follow a ‘typical’ Californian through a busy day of professional, regulated assistance

Brady Oppenheim
Consumer Connection staff

Over the course of a regular day, whether we are aware of it or not, California consumers engage with several—and sometimes even dozens—of licensed, regulated services overseen by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) licensing boards and bureaus.

Why is licensure and regulation of professional services important? DCA’s licensing entities set and enforce minimum qualifications for the professionals, establishments, and businesses they oversee to prevent consumers from being victimized by unscrupulous or unqualified people or deceptive or unsafe services.

While the examples outlined here don’t come close to illustrating the talents of each of the more than 3.5 million licensed California professionals and their more than 280 license types administered by DCA boards and bureaus, we do hope they encourage you to think a bit more about regulated services and the licensed professionals who provide them as you go about your day in our Golden State.

To find out more about each of the boards, bureaus, and licensed professionals mentioned here, please see our Reach Out section on page 24; to check an individual’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.

Hope you had a good breakfast—You’re in for a busy day. Follow our day’s timeline at right and the following pages. Let’s get started!

TAKE SHOWER
Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists licensees wear many hats, including ensuring we have safe and dependable water supplies and systems, and Contractors State License Board plumbing contractors help bring it all home.

BRUSH AND FLOSS TEETH
Licensees of the California Dental Board and Dental Hygiene Board of California help us keep our teeth, gums, and our entire selves healthy.

PUT IN CONTACTS
California State Board of Optometry licensees focus on Californians’ vision care and services, and the Medical Board of California licenses ophthalmologists. Osteopathic Medical Board of California licensees also can specialize in ophthalmology and vision-care services.

DO ASSIGNED EXERCISES
Physical Therapy Board of California and California Board of Occupational Therapy licensees improve our ability to perform movement and activities of daily living.

BROWSE HOME PRICES IN NEIGHBORHOOD NEWSLETTER
California Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers licensees analyze property values and help ensure fair and unbiased property pricing.

WALK DOGS
California Veterinary Medical Board licensees keep our animal friends healthy, enhancing their quality of life.

MOVERS ARRIVE NEXT DOOR
California Bureau of Household Goods and Services licensees include moving companies, appliance and electronics repair businesses, furniture and bedding retailers, and more.

STOP IN TO CHECK OUT NEW CANNABIS RETAILER
The Bureau of Cannabis Control licenses retailers, distributors, testing laboratories, microbusinesses, and even cannabis events.

GET HAIRCUT
Board of Barbering and Cosmetology licensees are trained to provide safe barbering, cosmetology, and electrology services to make you look and feel your best. WRITE EMAIL TO MOTHER’S FIDUCIARY Professional Fiduciaries Bureau licensees assist clients with matters including daily care, housing, medical needs, and financial management.

ADMIRE NEW COMMUNITY CENTER
California Architects Board licensees take structural ideas from concept to design to reality, shaping our everyday world.

ENJOY NEW PARK LANDSCAPING
Landscape Architects Technical Committee licensees inspire us with ecologically responsible, natural environments.

JURY DUTY NOTICE
Whether in court or other areas of practice, Court Reporters Board of California licensees protect Californians by ensuring the integrity of the judicial record.

FORGOT KEYS: CALL LOCKSMITH
California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services licensees—security guards, investigators, locksmiths, and more—help keep Californians safe.

BRAKES SQUEALING: CALL REPAIR SHOP
The Bureau of Automotive Repair regulates automotive repair dealers, brake and lamp adjusters, and smog check/repair stations. Worried if that new car is a lemon? The Arbitration Certification Program can help!

MEET WITH PRIVATE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS COUNSELOR
Institutions approved by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) must uphold educational programs and operating standards to provide quality education. BPPE’s Office of Student Assistance and Relief also protects the rights of private for-profit college students.

MOUSE IN KITCHEN: CALL PEST CONTROL
Structural Pest Control Board licensees provide safe and effective services to mitigate rodents, vermin, insects, and wood-destroying pests and organisms wherever they are found.

VISIT WITH CONTRACTOR TO DISCUSS NEW DECK
The more than 40 specializations of Contractors State License Board licensees reflect a wide variety of professional construction coordination and services.

TEXT FROM UPSET FRIEND: RECOMMEND PROFESSIONAL COUNSELING
Licensees of the Board of Behavioral Sciences and the California Board of Psychology are here to help Californians with a wide range of challenges and concerns.

VISIT HEALTH CARE FACILITY
About half of DCA licensees and licensing entities are dedicated to keeping Californians healthy, including the Acupuncture Board, California Board of Chiropractic Examiners, Medical Board of California, Naturopathic Medicine Committee, Osteopathic Medical Board of California, Physical Therapy Board of California, Physician Assistant Board, Podiatric Medical Board of California, Board of Registered Nursing, Respiratory Care Board of California, and Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians.

PICK UP PRESCRIPTION
California State Board of Pharmacy licensees prepare and dispense medications and counsel patients on their safe use.

GATHER MATERIALS FOR TAX SEASON
California Board of Accountancy licensees provide quality, trustworthy accounting services for tax deadline day and the other 364 days of the year.

MAKE APPOINTMENT WITH SON’S SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST
Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board licensees diagnose and treat communication disorders.

SEND COUSIN’S REMEMBRANCE FLOWERS TO FUNERAL HOME
Cemetery and Funeral Bureau licensed professionals and establishments provide services to Californians when they’re needed most.

WATCH BOXING MATCH
The California State Athletic Commission regulates professional and amateur boxing, mixed martial arts, and kickboxing throughout California.


FUNERALS: REFLECTING YOUR VALUES New—and new-again—trends for life’s last step

Brady Oppenheim
Consumer Connection staff

Let’s face it, thinking about funeral preparations isn’t easy. But one way to ensure you and your family are prepared is to think about what you value most in life, and then have those values reflected in your last rites.

For instance, are you inspired by nature? Are environmental issues important to you? Do you love being surrounded by family and friends? Are you interested in meeting new people? These personal priorities and more can be reflected in your final funeral wishes, including through some new and new-again options.

HOME FUNERALS

When people are asked to envision a “traditional” funeral in today’s Western society, thoughts of professional preparation, a formal viewing or visitation, a funeral service, and then cremation or burial may come to mind. But a return to home funeral goes even further back in tradition to truly bring services home, where they used to be.

For millennia, funerals were family affairs: Loved ones washed and laid out bodies, dressed them, made the coffin or other covering, and took care of all burial arrangements. These longstanding customs started changing in the 19th century, when advancements in funerary science—such as professional chemical embalming to preserve bodies for longer periods—began making inroads.

But the simplicity of home funerals can be appealing if you have a wish to be personally surrounded—and even prepared—by those closest to you: your friends and family. Like more modern funerals, home funerals can be as unique as you are. They can be as short as a few hours to quietly reflect with the body present prior to arrival of transportation by the chosen funeral home, or they can be as long as multiday vigils featuring washing and dressing the body, music, and visits by community members (the California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau recommends refrigerating or embalming a decedent within 24 hours after passing to slow decomposition). After any wished-for preparation of your body and any requested ceremonial or spiritual rituals, family and friends or licensed professionals and service providers can assist with final disposition.

The National Home Funeral Alliance states, “In every state and province, it is legal for families to bring or keep their loved one home until time of disposition.” The organization also notes that one of the main reasons people choose home funerals for themselves or their loved ones is “to participate more fully in their own lives and in their family life.” If being surrounded by friends and family as much as possible is a priority for you, a home funeral may be worth researching.

GREEN CEMETERIES

There’s nothing like the beauty of nature, and many people are considering a more natural eternal resting place with “green” cemeteries.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), green cemeteries are defined as burial sites that don’t permit vaults, nonbiodegradable caskets, or embalming chemicals. The sites eschew herbicides, pesticides, or irrigation for maintenance of the cemetery grounds. Instead of traditional headstones, many natural or green cemeteries feature sustainable landscape design and natural memorialization, such as rocks, plants, or trees. What’s more, some green cemeteries even are established as conservation areas in accordance with specific state laws.

If there are no green cemeteries in your area, you may still be able to have a green funeral and possibly a burial in a traditional cemetery that incorporates many environmentally focused elements.

The NFDA and other organizations have implemented special certification programs for green cemeteries and related services, so be sure to ask your funeral director or service provider about certified green-cemetery options as part of your personal planning process.

BASKET CASKETS

In a nod to both traditional and eco-friendly final wishes, some people are dispensing with modern metal coffins and seeking something simpler, such as:

  • Light basket caskets made from renewable materials.
  • Organic, undyed fabric shrouds.
  • Biodegradable eco-urns.
  • Other ecologically responsible options.

The Green Burial Council offers a list of certified product providers on its website—www.greenburialcouncil.org—that can provide inspiration for your own disposition.

COFFIN CLUBS

If you value socializing, crafting, or both, you may actually enjoy another emerging trend: make-your-own coffin clubs. New Zealand palliative care nurse Katie Williams got this DIY idea off the ground in her garage a decade ago, and now it’s going worldwide.

“I had seen lots of people dying and their funerals were nothing to do with the vibrancy and life of those people,” Williams told British newspaper The Guardian. “I had a deep-seated feeling that people’s journeys deserved a more personal farewell.”

Using new, recycled, or reclaimed materials that are often brightly painted with meaningful scenes and symbols, each created casket reflects the personality of its maker. Club members’ crafting abilities are as varied as their personal motivations, but everyone’s always ready to lend a hand … or a hug.

“There is a lot of loneliness among the elderly, but at the coffin club people feel useful, and it is very social,” Williams added. “We have morning tea and lunch, and music blaring, and cuddles.”

NEXT STEPS FOR YOUR LAST STEP

To make sure what you value most in life is reflected and respected even in your death, make sure you follow some key steps:

  • Do your research. Again, think about what you value most and find out how to make it happen, whether it’s by visiting a cemetery to ask about green burials, by browsing online for an eco-friendly urn, by visiting a library for home-funeral remembrance ideas, or by seeing if there is a casket club nearby.
  • Write down—and share—your funeral wishes. Ensure you’ve gathered all pertinent requests and information in a written preneed plan, which you’ve shared with designees.
  • Contact a licensed funeral director, cemetery, or crematory for assistance. Licensed California professionals and service providers are trained and knowledgeable in laws, regulations, and logistics. They’re ready to help, not only in time of need, but also before the need arises. To check the license status, please visit https://search.dca.ca.gov; for general planning information, visit the California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau’s website at www.cfb.ca.gov or call (916) 574-7870.

EXECUTIVE SPOTLIGHT
ANNE SODERGREN
CALIFORNIA STATE BOARD OF PHARMACY

The new executive officer of the California State Board of Pharmacy is a familiar face. When Virginia Herold left that post in 2018 to retire, Anne Sodergren was ready to step in and take charge. Ms. Sodergren has more than 25 years of experience with the Board, having served in various capacities. Most recently, she served as the Board’s interim executive officer and, over the last 10 years, as the assistant executive officer, where she had leadership responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the Board and worked in partnership with its 13-member board in carrying out their objectives.

Most notably, Ms. Sodergren was responsible for expanding licensure options and new licensing provisions that created additional options for pharmacy-related services in hospitals. This allowed the Board’s regulatory framework to keep pace with the proliferation of hospital services.

Ms. Sodergren’s lengthy tenure at the Board has afforded her significant experience in the regulation and enforcement of the Pharmacy Law in California, as well as directing the Board’s consumer protection mandate through consumer education campaigns. She has extensive experience in policy development, legislation, strategic planning, budgets, and personnel management.

Ms. Sodergren received her bachelor’s degree in communication studies from California State University, Sacramento, in 1992.

We recently sat down with Ms. Sodergren to get to know her a little better.

QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

ANSWER: I am very passionate about the Board’s mandate: consumer protection. It is very satisfying to be able to wake up every day and work hard to improve peoples’ lives, whether it is through policy initiatives, licensing decisions, or investigating matters.

QUESTION: WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?

ANSWER: Some of the Board’s efforts to streamline processes and provide better service are a bit hampered currently because of old systems. I look forward to the opportunity to replace legacy systems with new platforms that will provide the Board the opportunity to more robustly engage with consumers and other stakeholders.

QUESTION: WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE CONSUMERS TO KNOW?

ANSWER: The Board is a steward of the public and takes its responsibility to heart. The Board’s slogan, “BE AWARE AND TAKE CARE: Talk to a Pharmacist!”, is intended to be a reminder to all of us. Medication taken safely and appropriately improves our health. Pharmacists are readily accessible in many of our communities and can play an important role in our health care and education.

QUESTION: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

ANSWER: The current health crisis has really put a lot of things in perspective. Don’t sweat the small stuff, focus on the big picture, and find joy in the little things.


BRIEFS

7 Simple Tips to Prep Your House for Warm Weather

Summer’s in full swing, but it’s not too late to catch up on a few simple projects to improve your quality of life … and maybe save a few bucks.

Check seals and weather stripping around doors and windows. Wet your hand in the sink, then run your hand around the perimeter of closed doors and windows. The moisture on your hand will help you feel drafts and leaks.

Dust the ceiling fan blades and make sure they’re pushing air downward. In the summer, fan blades should spin counterclockwise, pushing air down from your ceiling.

Have your air conditioning unit serviced. A licensed contractor can clean the interior and exterior components of your air conditioner, reducing the amount of energy required to cool your home. Check the contractor’s license at the Contractors State License Board’s (CSLB) website, www.cslb.ca.gov.

Maintain your roof. Summer is a great time to have repairs done to your roof, gutters, and downspouts when contractors aren’t busy with emergency repairs. CSLB’s brochure, “Tips for Hiring a Roofing Contractor,” can help you make an informed decision.

Prepare your outdoor living space. Give your gas grill a thorough cleaning by heating it to high temperature for 15 minutes, scrubbing with a grill brush, then washing the grates and burners with soap and water after they’ve had time to cool. If you have outdoor patio furniture, most outdoor cushion covers are machine washable.

Go solar … maybe. Will installing a solar energy system help keep your cooling bill down? Head over to CSLB’s website and check out the resources in the “Smart Solar” section to find out if your home is suitable for a solar system.

Protect your home from unwanted pests. If you’re considering using the services of a pest control company, make sure they’re licensed by the Structural Pest Control Board.

Matt Woodcheke


Working from Home Doesn’t Have to Be a Pain

Working from home instead of the office and finding you have more aches and pains than usual? Most experts suggest that you focus on four main areas to create an ergonomic home office.

  1. Head and neck: To keep your neck, shoulders, and back free from injury, your head should be vertical to your neck. This position creates the least amount of strain. According to experts, every inch your head comes forward exerts an extra 10 pounds on your spine. If you have a monitor or laptop, use books to raise it to a comfortable eye level, one that keeps your head and neck in a neutral, stacked position.
  2. Hand, arm, and wrist position: Your hands and wrists should be in a neutral posture, similar to your head. Try and keep your elbows close to your side with your forearms parallel to the floor, creating a 90-degree angle between the upper arm and lower arm. Extend your arm and hand forward to lay them flat on the table to avoid creating a hinge at the wrist.
  3. Seated posture and back support: Similar to sitting in the driver’s seat of a car, find a posture that provides lower back support while sitting back in a way that allows you to see the screen. If you don’t have a fancy office chair that rocks back, try putting a cushion, pillow, or towel behind your lower back to provide lumbar support.
  4. Behavior: Take frequent but short breaks. Experts suggest about every 20 minutes, take a short one to two-minute break where you stand up, stretch out, walk in-place, or do leg-squats or lunges. Just move your body.

You may find these tips helpful, but it is always best to consult with a professional if you discover you are experiencing aches and pains that did not exist before.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) licenses chiropractors, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. To verify the license of a professional, check out DCA’s license search tool at https://search.dca.ca.gov.

MICHELLE McVAY-CAVE


Contractors Board Honors Military Personnel with Application Program

To honor past and present military personnel and their service to our country, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) offers a Military Veterans Application Assistance Program for them as well as their spouses/domestic partners who are transitioning from military service to civilian employment.

Some of the advantages of the Military Veterans Application Program include:

  • Expedited processing of veterans’ applications.
  • Personal contact with a CSLB representative for information.
  • Licensing staff who are specially trained to evaluate transferable military training and experience from all branches of the military: the Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Air Force.
  • Review of college transcripts by a CSLB representative to verify acceptable educational credit (in addition to military training and experience).

Since its inception in 2014, the Military Veterans Application Program has expedited 4,534 applications for veterans and issued 2,274 licenses.

To learn more about Contractors State License Board’s Military Veterans Application Program, visit www.cslb.ca.gov/Contractors/Applicants/Military.

Lana K. Wilson-Combs


August Is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

For many K-12 students in California, August marks the beginning of a new school year. To help children begin school with a fresh start, eye-care professionals such as optometrists and ophthalmologists suggest an annual comprehensive eye exam for all school-age children.

Children are susceptible to many vision and eye problems that cannot be detected from a routine eye exam alone. Eye and vision disorders can worsen over time, which is why early diagnosis and treatment are essential to children’s eye health and vision.

The California State Board of Optometry and the Medical Board of California license eye-care professionals committed to making sure your child’s vision is as clear as it can be, and Osteopathic Medical Board of California licensees also can specialize in ophthalmology and vision-care services. Before scheduling an appointment, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov to verify their license.

For more information about children’s eye health, the California State Board of Optometry has a brochure and video about kids’ eye health on their website at www.optometry.ca.gov.

Michelle McVay-Cave


Protect Your Pet During Flea and Tick Season

The warm-weather flea and tick season is here, so what can you do to prevent your pet and home from being infested by fleas and ticks?

All of the different options can be confusing, but newer treatments for your dog or cat have made large advancements over older chemicals found in powders, sprays, or foggers.

Either oral or topical, the isoxalene class of flea treatment products is highly effective and safer for pets and owners than previous generations of products, according to the state Veterinary Medical Board (VMB).

Because fleas reproduce so quickly, it’s likely that by the time you notice them on your pet or in the home, you have an infestation of multiple generations. Eradication of a severe infestation could take up to several weeks and possibly more than one product, according to VMB. Consulting a veterinarian about the condition of your pet and the underlying circumstances of your flea or tick problem is always recommended.

Ryan Jones


REACH OUT

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) protects and serves California consumers while ensuring a competent and fair marketplace. DCA accomplishes this by administering more than 3.9 million licenses in 250 license types, including permits, certificates, and registrations through the licensing and regulatory entities under its jurisdiction.

DCA provides consumers with current license status information on the millions of professionals licensed or certified through its entities. To check licenses, report concerns with a licensed professional, or to find out more about a profession, contact one of the many DCA entities listed below.

Accountancy, California Board of
2450 Venture Oaks Way, Suite 300
Sacramento, CA 95833
(916) 263-3680
www.dca.ca.gov/cba

Acupuncture Board
1747 North Market Blvd., Suite 180
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 515-5200
www.acupuncture.ca.gov

Arbitration Certification Program
1625 North Market Blvd.,
Suite N-112
Sacramento, CA 95834
Toll-free: (800) 952-5210
(916) 574-7350
www.dca.ca.gov/acp
www.LemonLaw.ca.gov

Architects Board, California
2420 Del Paso Road, Suite 105
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 574-7220
www.cab.ca.gov

Athletic Commission, California State
2005 Evergreen St., Suite 2010
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 263-2195
TTY: (800) 326-2297
www.dca.ca.gov/csac

Automotive Repair, Bureau of
10949 North Mather Blvd.
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
Toll-free: (800) 952-5210
www.bar.ca.gov

Barbering and Cosmetology, Board of
2420 Del Paso Road, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95834
Toll-free: (800) 952-5210
www.barbercosmo.ca.gov

Behavioral Sciences, Board of
1625 North Market Blvd.,
Suite S-200
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 574-7830
www.bbs.ca.gov

Cannabis Control, Bureau of
Mailing address:
P.O. Box 419106
Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-9106
Toll-free: (833) 768-5880
www.bcc.ca.gov

Cemetery and Funeral Bureau
1625 North Market Blvd.,
Suite S-208
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 574-7870
Toll-free: (800) 952-5210
www.cfb.ca.gov

Chiropractic Examiners, California Board of
901 P St., Suite 142A
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 263-5355
Toll-free: (866) 543-1311
www.chiro.ca.gov

Contractors State License Board
9821 Business Park Drive
Sacramento, CA 95827
(916) 255-3900
Toll-free: (800) 321-2752
www.cslb.ca.gov

Court Reporters Board of California
2535 Capitol Oaks Drive, Suite 230
Sacramento, CA 95833
(916) 263-3660
Toll-free: (877) 327-5272 (877-3ASKCRB)
www.courtreportersboard.ca.gov

Dental Board of California
2005 Evergreen St., Suite 1550
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 263-2300
Toll-free: (877) 729-7789
www.dbc.ca.gov

Dental Hygiene Board of California
2005 Evergreen St., Suite 2050
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 263-1978
www.dhcc.ca.gov

Household Goods and Services, Bureau of
4244 South Market Court, Suite D
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 999-2041
https://bhgs.dca.ca.gov

Landscape Architects Technical Committee
2420 Del Paso Road, Suite 105
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 575-7230
www.latc.ca.gov

Medical Board of California
2005 Evergreen St., Suite 1200
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 263-2382
Toll-free: (800) 633-2322
www.mbc.ca.gov

Naturopathic Medicine Committee
1300 National Drive, Suite 150
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 928-4785
www.naturopathic.ca.gov

Occupational Therapy, California Board of
1610 Arden Way, Suite 121
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 263-2294
www.bot.ca.gov

Optometry, California State Board of
2450 Del Paso Road, Suite 105
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 575-7170
Toll-free: (866) 585-2666
www.optometry.ca.gov

Osteopathic Medical Board of California
1300 National Drive, Suite 150
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 928-8390
www.ombc.ca.gov

Pharmacy, California State Board of
2720 Gateway Oaks Drive
Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95833
(916) 518-3100
www.pharmacy.ca.gov

Physical Therapy Board of California
2005 Evergreen St., Suite 1350
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 561-8200
www.ptbc.ca.gov

Physician Assistant Board
2005 Evergreen St., Suite 1100
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 561-8780
www.pab.ca.gov

Podiatric Medical Board of California
2005 Evergreen St., Suite 1300
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 263-2647
www.pmbc.ca.gov

Private Postsecondary Education, Bureau for
1747 North Market Blvd., Suite 225, Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 431-6959
Toll-free: (888) 370-7589
www.bppe.ca.gov

Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists, Board for
2535 Capitol Oaks Drive, Suite 300
Sacramento, CA 95833
(916) 263-2222
Toll-free: (866) 780-5370
www.bpelsg.ca.gov

Professional Fiduciaries Bureau
1625 North Market Blvd.,
Suite S-209
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 574-7340
www.fiduciary.ca.gov

Psychology, California Board of
1625 North Market Blvd., Suite N-215
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 574-7720
Toll-free: (866) 503-3221
www.psychology.ca.gov

Real Estate Appraisers, Bureau of
3075 Prospect Park Drive, Suite 190
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
(916) 552-9000
www.brea.ca.gov

Registered Nursing, Board of
1747 North Market Blvd., Suite 150
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 322-3350
TTY: (800) 326-2297
www.rn.ca.gov

Respiratory Care Board of California
3750 Rosin Court, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 999-2190
Toll-free: (866) 375-0386
www.rcb.ca.gov

Security and Investigative Services, Bureau of
2420 Del Paso Road, Suite 270
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 322-4000
Toll-free: (800) 952-5210
www.bsis.ca.gov

Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board
2005 Evergreen St., Suite 2100
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 263-2666
www.speechandhearing.ca.gov

Structural Pest Control Board
2005 Evergreen St., Suite 1500
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 561-8708
Toll-free: (800) 737-8188
www.pestboard.ca.gov

Student Assistance and Relief, Office of
Mailing address:
P.O. Box 980818
West Sacramento, CA 95798-0818
Physical Address:
1625 North Market Blvd.,
Suite N-327
Sacramento, CA 95834
Toll-Free: (888) 370-7589
www.osar.bppe.ca.gov

Veterinary Medical Board
1747 North Market Blvd., Suite 230
Sacramento, CA 95834-2987
(916) 515-5520
Toll-Free: (866) 229-0170
www.vmb.ca.gov

Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians, Board of
2535 Capitol Oaks Drive, Suite 205
Sacramento, CA 95833
(916) 263-7800
www.bvnpt.ca.gov


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