Creating An Emergency Kit For The Great Shakeout

Creating An Emergency Kit For The Great Shakeout

October 18th of this year will be the Great Shakeout. It is a day where schools and companies all over the world practice what they should do in the event of an earthquake. It is an opportunity for people to prepare for an emergency that can happen at any time without any warning. That is why it is important to be prepared.

One way to be prepared for an emergency like an earthquake, is to have an emergency kit ready to go. A good emergency kit will have all of the things that you need to deal with any emergency that comes your way.

This includes:

  • 3 gallons of water per person. This should last each individual 3 days.
  • A 3 day supply of non-perishable foods.
  • Baby food, diapers, and wipes if you have a baby.
  • Pet food and extra water if you have a pet.
  • A can opener.
  • Cups, utensils, and plates.
  • First aid kit.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Battery powered or crank powered radio and flashlight, plus extra batteries.
  • A whistle.
  • Portable phone charger.
  • Prescription medicine and glasses for those who need them.
  • List of contact information of family members and friends.
  • Important documents in a waterproof and fireproof container.
  • Waterproof matches.
  • A blanket.
  • A supply of cash for food and travel for at least a week.
  • A change of clothes and shoes for each member of the family.
  • If you have kids, activities for young children such as crayons and coloring books.

While this list can seem a bit intimidating, it can all be important in the event of an emergency. Just by having this stuff stored away in a safe place at home, a person is much more likely to be able to survive whatever comes their way.


Can Police Officers Search Your Electronics?

Can Police Officers Search Your Electronics?

In the modern age, so much of our lives revolve around electronic devices. How many of us would be able to go a day without our cellphone in hand? Probably not many of us. It’s no wonder that since electronic devices like this have become so commonplace that law enforcement officers may need to see them during criminal investigations.

A very common question that most people have is when can a police officer search through my phone or other digital devices? The answer is the same for when can an officer search your home or house. They either need your consent to do so, a warrant that specifically lists the item in question, or when they have reason to believe that the searching of the device will prevent a crime.

This right is protected under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

The Fourth Amendment protects all US citizens from unreasonable search and seizures of property. This includes digital property stored on electronic devices.

If a law enforcement officer searches your phone or other devices illegally, then nothing they find there can be used as evidence against you since it was obtained illegally. Furthermore, consent to search a device has to be given freely, it cannot be coerced out of an individual. Lastly, a warrant to search a device has to specifically list what types of files can be looked at on the device, and the officer cannot stray from that list.

The modern world is always changing, and that means that laws need to change and update with it. This is why the Fourth Amendment, which was written a few hundred years before any electronic devices were invented, now covers the search of those devices. It is a way to prevent law enforcement officers from abusing the powers granted to them. Unfortunately, not every officer out there is aware of this, and may claim otherwise. If that is the case, and an officer demands to search your device without a warrant, calmly and politely refuse while informing the officer that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects your devices from unreasonable searches.


The Cost Of Parking On California Streets

The Cost Of Parking On California Streets

You might not be aware that California is home to some of the strictest and most heavily enforced traffic parking laws in the United States. There are two reasons for this. The first is because California has a mind-boggling amount of traffic and each driver is looking for a place to park, the limited number of parking options forces state lawmakers to come up with strict parking rules. The second reason is that parking tickets is a lucrative and easy form of income that the state needs.

How Much Can A Parking Ticket Cost You?

Most people think that they don’t have to worry about parking tickets. They figure that the ticket is $5 or $10 and that the state won’t notice if the ticket doesn’t get paid. This is a costly assumption. Depending on which parking law was violated, the fine connected to the ticket can add up to $1,000, and the state has a reputation for swearing out bench warrants on drivers who fail to pay even minor parking tickets.

San Francisco has different fines for different types of parking violations, including:

  • $55.00 for parking on the side of the street that’s scheduled for street cleaning.
  • $65.00 for a going over your time at a downtown parking meter.
  • $90.00 for parking in a marked red zone.
  • $50.00 for angled parking.
  • $90.00 for parking in a space reserved for motorcycles.
  • $85.00 for parking in a tow-away zone.
  • $55.00 for parking in a temporary construction zone.
  • $105.00 for block charging bay parking.
  • $100.00 for parking in the entrance/exit of a facility.
  • $100.00 for speeding while in a parking facility.

It’s important to note that these fees can change with a single vote.

The steepest parking tickets are ones that are issued for parking illegally in a bus loading zone or in a space reserved for a disabled driver/passenger.

Protesting The Parking Ticket

Just like with all traffic violations, you are allowed to go to court and protest the traffic ticket you were issued, but you should know that proving your innocence isn’t always easy. The best ways to get the ticket over ruled is by bringing photographic evidence that the restrictions on parking there wasn’t clearly marked, or proving that you weren’t the one driving the vehicle on the day the parking ticket was issued. In some cases, the court will forgive the parking ticket if you can prove that the only reason you were parked illegally was because of a valid emergency.

Most California court systems are currently set up so that parking tickets can be paid online. Failure to pay your outstanding parking tickets can result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest.


Consequences Of Ignoring A Jury Summons

Consequences Of Ignoring A Jury Summons

The idea of a jury sounds like a great aspect of democracy right up to the point when you get a jury summons. It’s perfectly natural to wonder what would happen if you choose to ignore the letter telling you that you need to report to the courthouse and be considered for jury duty.

While ignoring a summons to appear for jury duty might not seem like a big deal to you, state’s are starting to really crack down on those who do. The exact consequences of skipping out on a jury summons can vary from one district to another, most courts will issue a bench warrant. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the cops will knock on your door, but it does mean that if you get pulled over, when the patrol officer runs your name through their computer system, they’ll discover the warrant and arrest you on the spot.

Even if you get lucky enough to never cross paths with a police officer after a failure to appear for jury duty bench warrant has been issued, the bench warrant can have an enormous and negative impact on your life. There’s been at least one report of someone from California getting denied when they tried to rent an apartment. When the person investigated the reason, they found that skipping jury duty resulted in a bench warrant that had popped up when the landlord ran a background check. That person hadn’t even lived in California when the court sent the summons. It took some time, but the individual was able to prove that they hadn’t been a California resident. They worked closely with the California state patrol and were eventually able to get the bench warrant dropped.

In Georgia, a woman who ignored a jury summons was sentenced to three days in jail. In Massachusetts, approximately 48,000 residents were charged a $2,000 fine after they failed to obey a jury summons.

A recent report indicated that Los Angeles County collected more than $940,000 from people who didn’t honor a request to sit on a jury.

When all is said and done, it’s in your best interest to obey the jury summons. If you have a exceptionally good reason for not being able to honor the request, talk to the judge. They may accept your excuse and let you off the hook.


LAPD Cracks Down On Street Takeovers

LAPD Cracks Down On Street Takeovers

It is no secret that Los Angeles County has been experiencing an increase in dangerous vehicular activities this year. From street racing to takeovers, hundreds of people all over Southern California have been participating in this dangerous and illegal activity. In an effort to crack down on these activities, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) created a street racing task force back in August.

Over the last month or so, there have been multiple incidents of large groups of people blocking of intersections and parking lots in order to perform dangerous stunts in front of large crowds. Nothing separates the vehicles from the bystanders, and several recorded instances show multiple people almost being hit by the vehicles.

These kinds of events are dangerous and illegal. Participants can be arrested and have their vehicles towed and impounded. This is what happened to a few individuals who were recently caught street racing. As far as charges go, people caught participating or even viewing illegal spectacles such as this can face:

  • Unlawful assembly
  • Reckless driving
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Vehicular manslaughter

These kinds of activities are illegal because they are dangerous. Under normal circumstances, a person may only be charged with reckless driving. However, if a bystander is hurt or killed, the driver could face assault with a deadly weapon charges and/or vehicular manslaughter charges. This is regardless if the accident was on purpose or not.

This is why the LAPD, as well as other law enforcement agencies, encourage safe driving. Nobody wants to get hurt, and nobody wants to be responsible for hurting someone else.


The 3 Levels Of Crimes

The 3 Levels Of Crimes

When it comes to getting in trouble with the law, there are three levels of offense. Crimes are spread across these three levels, which is why different crimes earn a person different severities of punishment.

The three different levels are:

  • Infractions
  • Misdemeanors
  • Felonies

Every crime that you can think of can be placed into one of these categories. Some crimes can fall between two categories, meaning they can be charged as one or the other. These kinds of crimes are called wobblers, and the severity of the punishment is often decided by the prosecution based upon the details of the crime itself.

Infractions are the lowest level of crimes and it include things such as traffic violations. Since these are usually minor crimes, they can only earn a person small fines with no risk of jail time. This is how parking in the wrong place can earn a person a ticket, but not jail time. However, some crimes such as speeding, can be bumped up to the next level if the crime was considered dangerous enough.

Misdemeanor crimes are the mid-level crimes, which is a pretty wide field in the state of California. Most crimes fall into this category, unless they were very violent or dangerous. Misdemeanors can earn a person fines up to $1,000 and jail time no longer than 1 year.

Felonies are the worst crimes that a person can commit, and as such, carry the heftiest consequences. Felonies can be punished with fines up to $10,000 and up to life in prison. These are the kinds of penalties people face when they have done something as bad as killing another person.

Knowing the differences between the three levels of crimes can come in handy. It helps a person to know how much trouble they or a loved one are in when they have been charged with something.


California Continues To Struggle With Housing Citizens

California Continues To Struggle With Housing Citizens

Housing is a huge concern in California. For the average person, trying to find a decent, affordable housing in many cities seems like a Herculean task, and it doesn’t look like things are going to change anytime soon.

In the highly sought-after Bay Area, a recent study showed that the number of affordable houses has fallen dramatically. Based on the research, only 18% of the area’s citizens can actually afford any of the “moderately priced” single family homes. The average price of the home is $1.035 million. Economists predict that to purchase an “affordable” Bay Area home a family needs to earn a minimum of $219,38 each year. The monthly payment would be $5,480 assuming the family qualified for a mortgage that only charged a 4.7% interest rate.

The issue of affordable housing isn’t limited to the Bay Area. Stats indicate that both Santa Cruz and Mono counties are worse. In those counties only 14% of the residents can afford a median priced home for their family. Throughout the state, it’s estimated that only 26% of all California residents can afford to purchase a home.

Renting an apartment isn’t easy either.

Not only do most California landlords charge a massive monthly price for rental properties, many have even gotten into the habit of thinking about the apartments as hotel rooms, which has raised rental rates even higher.

The good news is that there are some organizations currently working to make living in California a bit more affordable. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is one such organization. They’re currently working hard to promote a proposal that would lead to tougher rent control laws, making living in California somewhat more feasible. In addition to helping promote the Yes on 10 proposal, the organization has also donated $10 million to the cause.

The idea of Proposition 10 is that it would supersede the current Costa Hawkins Rent Control Act (implemented in 1995). The way things currently stand, landlords who own any multi-family building constructed after 1995 are allowed to set any rent they like. If Proposition 10 passes, the government would be in a position to control just how the rent goes on all property, no matter when it was constructed. If Proposition 10 passes and rent becomes more bearable, it’s possible that the median price of houses will also stabilize.


Finding The Right Childcare Center

Finding The Right Childcare Center

What is your most valuable asset? Depending on who you are and what you care about, the answer to this question could vary. It may be your car, your home, or even a fancy television. What precautionary steps do you take to protect those assets? Before you purchased something with such a high value, did you conduct research to find out its reliability or return on investment? Now, the last question. Did you conduct research before selecting a childcare facility for your kids?

You might not think of your children as an asset, but if you’re a parent then you probably agree that your children are the most valuable thing in your life. So why didn’t you vet their caregiver as much as you did automobile or homeowner’s insurance? You’re in luck.

California has a lot of helpful resources and guideline in place to ensure that your children are protected when in the hands of a childcare facility.

As you begin your search for a good childcare facility, here are few things to consider when visiting one.

  • How is the staff interacting with the children? Are they on the floor playing with the children or are they glued to their phone in a chair?
  • How long has the staff been employed at the facility? Is there a high turnover rate?
  • What are some of the policies at the center and how do they align with your parenting style?
    • What is their philosophy on punishment?
    • How often do the children watch television?
    • What types of snacks are given?
    • How often are naps given?
    • What is their sick-child policy

In addition to asking these questions during your initial visit, it is recommended that you visit the center at different times throughout the day to see how various staff members handle the children and what types of activities are happening during the day. If you’re a little lost on where to begin or want more information about local centers, check out the California Department of Social Services. Here you will be able to search for centers within your area and obtain feedback.

The last and most important thing to keep in mind when looking for a childcare facility, is to always go with your gut. If something about a particular facility doesn’t feel right to you, regardless of how many raving recommendations they have, don’t sign-up and just keep looking. The right child care center for your family is out there, you’ve just got to find it.


Californians Need To Be Prepared

Californians Need To Be Prepared

California is pretty well known for its earthquakes, and while the state gets several hundreds of small earthquakes a year, the area is prone to another form of natural disaster. Every Californian knows that the state gets several wildfires a year, and with the state still facing drought, the fires have been getting larger.

Summer may be approaching its inevitable end, but the hot, dry weather has made its mark. The state has already had several large fires this year and some have, unfortunately, been deadly.

It is important for every California resident to be ready for a wildfire.

By being prepared, a person will be better able to keep themselves and their loved one’s safe.

An important step for all families is to have an evacuation plan ready to go. This plan needs to be practiced and well known by every family member, this way the family can leave at a moment’s notice. The plan should include multiple escape routes from the home, as well as a final destination for every member to meet at in case of separation. There should also be a well-stocked emergency kit somewhere in the home that every family member knows about.

Aside from preparing the family for a wildfire, it is also important to prepare the home as well. The state of California requires that every property owner create 100 feet of defensible space around their home or other buildings. This means keeping tall and highly flammable plants at least 30 feet from your home. There are other regulations that you can learn about by clicking here to visit Cal Fire’s webpage on defensible space.

Doing these little things to prepare yourself, your family, and your home can make a huge difference. It gives everyone in your family a better chance of survival in the event of a fire. Creating proper defensible space gives your home a better chance of getting through the wildfire unscathed. These are both things that everyone wants when facing a raging wildfire.


How To Prevent Mosquitos

How To Prevent Mosquitos

It’s happened! On Friday, June 15, The L.A. County Department of Public Health announced the first case of the West Nile Virus infection in L.A. county for 2018. According to ABC7, A San Gabriel Valley resident was admitted to the hospital in May 2018 and later diagnosed with the disease.

West Nile virus is spread through mosquito bites and impacts the nervous system, resulting in meningitis, encephalitis, paralysis, and sometimes death.

Don’t be alarmed – only about 1 in 5 people infected with the West Nile virus will develop symptoms. Furthermore, only 1 in 150 people will develop a serious illness due to the virus. Individuals over 50 years old and people with chronic medical conditions are at a higher risk of being severely infected.

The CDC reports that the West Nile virus season begins during the summer and continues through the fall. However, last year’s season extended through December.

The best way to protect yourself from being bitten and infected by the West Nile virus is to wear insect repellent every time you go outside and to wear long-sleeve shirts and pants when going outside or near bodies of water. Any insect repellent that is EPA-registered is safe and effective, even for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you are bitten by a mosquito, chances are you will not experience any symptoms. However, 1 in 5 people who are infected develops minor symptoms including a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, and diarrhea. In comparison, 1 in 150 people infected will develop more serious illnesses impacting the nervous system. These symptoms include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, and paralysis.

It is important that you contact your healthcare provider if you are bitten by a mosquito and develop the symptoms outlined above. There is no vaccine or specific treatment, however, you can take over-the-counter medicine to relieve the symptoms.

We hope you have a safe and mosquito-free fall season!