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Procrastination is the thief of time. ~ Edward Young, English poet (1681 – 1765)

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‘Tis FIRE season!
by Roberta Goodwin
plus excerpts from “IN THE LINE OF FIRE” (by Chris Bateman in FAN)

Fire season is upon us.  “What’s on [my] mind?” my Facebook space asks… well, today it’s lots of things as usual, but mainly the safety of my (ex-) sister and brother-in-law who live in the area in Colorado of the big wildfire. She just updated me by email, saying they had to evacuate their office, but they are still in their house… and they are OK, for now anyway.  Funny how something like that rearranges one’s priorities.  The latest headlines scream “More Than 32,000 Ordered To Flee Colo. Wildfire” … My mind goes to all of us here, in the same kind of terrain.
The Union Democrat keeps reminding us that we must be ever-vigilant in our mountain ever so beautifully-treed communities, and rightly so.  Sitting in my doctor’s office, I picked up the latest copy of Friends and Neighbors (FAN) in which Chris Bateman, late of the UD, and now writing here and there in his retirement.  Chris is the hubby of Suzy, the magazine’s editor, and he wrote the cover piece “IN THE LINE OF FIRE” for the summer 2012 issue.  Lots of good stuff.  Mainly: a checklist I find extremely clear-cut and precise, especially for seniors.  If you’re a disabled senior, as I am, there’s more than enough info to get ME organized and ready, should the unthinkable happen.  Chris’ piece is rather long, so it’s probably better if you pick up the summer issue – unless you get it delivered – where you can, and read it that way for the complete copy.  But here’s a synopsis for your convenience until you can get the complete one.

Survival tips (no guarantees, but if you have no other choice, they may help you survive the moment)…
Are you…

  1. Outside on foot?: Wear long pants/long-sleeved shirt/gloves and heavy boots/shoes. Cover your mouth with a DRY rag (not wet) and find a ditch or depression. Lie face down and wait for the flames to pass.
  2. Inside your home?: Close all windows/doors/drapes.  Turn your lights on for firefighters to see you. Stay away from walls, in a room with an outside exit. (Temps outside are much higher.)  Wait for the fire to pass then leave and look for shelter; await help.
  3. In a vehicle?:  If you can, choose and older model car, as they have fewer combustibles.  Park in a cleared, flat area.  Close all windows and vents.  Cover yourself.  Lie on the floor till flames pass.

Your emergency plan:
Do your defensible space due diligence by clearing your property: remove brush, weeds, dead or downed trees within 100 feet of your home.  Note, the Amador Fire Safe Council (Cathy Koos-Breazeal 295-6200) helps low-income/disabled seniors in counties of Tuolumneand Calaveras with this kind of property clearance chore.

  1. Be ready ahead of time.
    a. Arrange for family meeting place outside the fire area.
    b. Map two possible escape routes to a location where you can stay until the evacuation orders are lifted.
    c. Arrange for your pets: set aside carriers/food/water/meds/vaccination records. (note: the Red Cross shelters do not allow animals).
    d. Assemble a kit: food, water, meds, first-aid kit, portable radio with batteries, flashlight, change(s) of clothes and copies of any important documents.
  2. After the first evacuation advisory:
    a. Back your car into your driveway and load it.
    b. Connect hoses to spigots for use by firefighters.
    c. Place a ladder at the corner of your house for firefighter access to roof.
    d. Don’t leave your sprinklers on, it reduces water pressure.
    e. Shut all windows and doors but don’t lock them.
    f. Move flammable furniture to the center of rooms, way from windows/doors.
    g. Keep your pets close by so you can pick them up if you need to right away.
  3. Warning systems:
    a. Address signs.  Make sure your address is clearly seen.  Sheriff deputies and others will go door to door to alert you.
    b. Notifications via reverse 911 calls
    c. Use your portable radios, tuned to a local station.
    c. Go to Facebook & Twitter, Cal Fire will have updates.
  4. IF YOU CAN’T DRIVE OR HAVE OTHER SPECIAL NEEDS (mobility issues, need electricity for oxygen, have run out of water, don’t have anyone to call?), here’s who to call for help.
    a.  The Office of Emergency Services (OES) 209-533-5511 ext 4 (or after hours 209-533-5815)
    b. The Fire Dept (911 or 209-533-9100)
    c. The Sheriff’s office (209-533-5815)
  5. AHEAD of TIME: Tracie Riggs, the Director of Emergency Services, recommends that seniors and others with medical problems or limited mobility let people know where they live and what help they might need by handing out their phone numbers, home and cell.
    Here’s another idea.  I just signed up for Nixle a reverse 911 service now being trialed in Calaveras county, that supplies up-to-date “…emergency alerts … if you want to try it out, go to http://www.nixle.com/.  I will try to remember to let y’all know how it works, but hopefully without a fire around me!

Save the dates!!!! Presented by the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging

2012 Senior Volunteer of the Year Awards ~ The Senior Volunteer of the Year Awards ceremony is scheduled for July 12, 11AM – 12PM, in the Board of Supervisors Chambers, 4th floor, 2 Green St., Sonora. Don’t miss this opportunity to honor or community’s senior volunteers.

2012 Centenarian Awards ~ The 2012 Centenarian Awards ceremony is scheduled for October 3, 11AM – 12PM, Tuolumne County Senior Center. Don’t miss this opportunity to honor our community’s Centenarian Society members and meet the County’s newest residents reaching the 100 years young milestone.

Jots & Thoughts By Roberta Goodwin…

√ 2012 Senior Expo ~ The 3rdAnnual Senior Expo is over.  500 some-odd attendees enjoyed this information packed day! The ever-so-talented Senior Idol, Mr. Les Olsen, is crowned, the 55+ booth holders are packed up, the sponsors are – gratefully and extensively – thanked. Some of the people and volunteers who helped prepare for, and then worked the event are on vacation, and the rest have breathed a sigh of relief, all having gone through the preparations fairly non-stop through the last few months. Next year’s Expo will be in the planning stages soon!  Follow http://www.seniorfair.com for developments.

from Roberta Goodwin ~ Are you feeling as though your driving skills, reaction times, etc. are diminishing?  Maybe your legs are reacting more slowly than you’d like, making you think you’re a hazard on the road.  Or maybe it’s your reflexes?  Maybe you’ve got another condition or problem.  Are you dreading the day when you cannot drive your own car to appointments, shopping, visiting the family, and the like? Perhaps you will want to consider installing so-called “hand controls” for your car, as I am.  But it’s possible you don’t have a clue how to get this process started or who to contact.  Yours truly is the resident “disabled” commissioner, and I am facing that possibility, having a little bit of a tougher time these days moving my right leg/foot between the gas pedal and the brake as quickly as I’d like.  It understandably makes me nervous, so I’m checking out the possibility of installing hand controls for MY car.  I had the “driving evaluation” the other day from a Sacramento driving school, and I was able to practice with the controls to see what it’s like.  It’s both harder and easier than I thought.  I will keep you posted as I go through this process. Tip: it’s expensive, but what does independence cost?

√ MOTORIZED SCOOTER UPDATE, from Roberta Goodwin ~ Our previous post related the situation on their seemingly forever broken motorized cart issue. If you remember, I both called and wrote a letter to the district manager inModesto. In it, I suggested that the Sonora store was probably losing a good deal of money from the area’s disabled seniors who need to use it to get to the pharmacy and shop in their store. I recently got a call back from the District Manager who relayed the message that a new cart was on its way. One for our side, hey?

√ Computer training classes ~ are available locally for seniors and are provided by various local agencies, locations, trainers. See our tab this site.  In addition, Mymotherlode.com and the SeniorCenter have classes sometimes, call them for details. The opportunities provided by using a computer and the internet are numerous: One can pay bills online, saving postage and trips to the post office; using email and Facebook can help with isolation and loneliness; learning and using a computer’s various programs “exercises” the mind, and affords other advantages to exercising the brain. As far as cost goes, computers cost far less than just a few years ago, and donated computers are available from certain local agencies.  As well, keep in mind that when a family member or friend upgrades their computer, they might be willing to part with their old one, frequently still in good running order.

Scam report from AARP Outreach & Service a piece entitled “Affinity Fraud”… and how to avoid being a victim of these predators.  See: http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-01-2009/affinity_fraud.html

“Legal Matters” updated as of June 23, 2012

Here are some of the matters affecting seniors that the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging is currently following and concerned with (but NOT necessarily endorsing – see our disclaimer at the bottom of our blog).

1. Silver Alert SB 38: proposed by Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose) – was recently passed… Almost 600,000 individuals in California have Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, that number will grow to more than 1.1 million by 2030, and 6 in 10 people with Alzheimer’s will wander away from their homes or care facilities at some point. People with Alzheimer’s often lose their cognitive ability to remember when to eat and drink or protect themselves from extreme weather. Silver Alert would be similar to the successful Amber Alert program for children. More on it from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_AlertA Silver Alert is a public notification system in the United   States to broadcast information about missing persons – especially seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other mental disabilities – in order to aid in their return. Silver Alerts use a wide array of media outlets—such as commercial radio stations, television stations, and cable TV—to broadcast information about missing persons. Silver Alerts also use variable-message signs on roadways to alert motorists to be on the lookout for missing seniors.

2. SB 810: as per – http://www.democraticunderground.com/101440504 As of Tuesday Jan 31, 2012 “Today SB 810, “Medicare for All” single payer legislation, was killed on the California Senate Floor. More about the bill from this website: http://californiaonecare.org/learn-more/sb-810/sb-810-overview

3. AB 1525: Financial Elder Abuse: Money Transmitters sponsored by Assembly member Michael Allen)… This bill requires that money wire transfer services be included in the definition of mandatory reporters of suspected financial elder abuse.

4. AB 2374: sponsored by Assembly member Roger Hernandez. Prohibits a consumer credit card reporting agency from charging a person who is 65 years old or older a fee when placing a security freeze on his or her credit report.

5. AB 1648: Brownley: The California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, ftp://leginfo.public.ca.gov/pub/03-04/bill/sen/sb_1601-1650/sb_1648_cfa_20040618_120723_asm_comm.html

Did YOU Know?

For your better living…

1. Revised: “Clean Up Day Coupon Program” ~ Are you struggling with disposal issues of large items, or multiple bags of trash and items that need to go to the dump?  In my former life living in the bay area, BFI had a two times a year program where they’d come by and pick up stuff, free.  I called WM here and was told they don’t have anything like that, but THEN… I saw something in the UD paper on a local program called “Clean Up Day Coupon Program” for disposal of “big items” from Waste Management, and I called them.  I have an old bench on my deck that needs to go, but it’s heavy and too broken down to be useful to someone else, or perhaps set out on my street with a “FREE!” sign.  They said if one has “curbside service” (read: pays a monthly fee) to come on in to the office on Camage and pick up “coupons”… Oh! So I did that and yippee!  I can  haul – or have someone else – this bench to the transfer station and no charge!  Yay.  Almost the same thing.   Goodbye, bench.

2. Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency (ATCAA)  ~ The Commission recently heard a presentation from Yvonne Penland and Valerie Farley, which was described as “informative and engaging.”  Unfortunately I had a car problem that day and missed it. As soon as I compile some feedback, I will share it with you here.

3. Area 12 Agency on Aging ~This agency’s helpful staff provides services to more than 11,000 seniors in five counties: Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa and Tuolumne. Services include information and assistance, caregiver support, nutrition, fitness, Medicare counseling and much more. The agency is headquartered in Sonora, at 19074 Standard Rd. Contact Area 12 at (209) 532-6272 or (800) 510-2020, www.area12.orgT’is the Season: one of Area 12’s season appropriate services is help with fire clearance.  Call 532-6272 and ask about their “Chore” program, or ask them in general how they can help you with your other living challenges.

4. PG&E’s low-income program ~ PG&E has a low-income program called “The Energy Savings Assistance Program” and they partner locally with Sears to bring new refrigerators to folks. According to an installer I talked to named “Mike” … he and his crew make about 10 stops a day in the county to bring free brand-new refrigerators. His clients run to – he estimates – about 70% seniors. As part of the program, the crew even picks up their old refrigerators (and refurbishes/recycles them). The service area extends from Mi-Wuk to Riverbank, more or less, as he explained. Other features of the program include what they term “Improvements to your house, apartment or mobile home including compact fluorescent lights, caulking, showerheads, minor home repair and more.” To find out more about the program and whether you’re eligible, or if someone you KNOW is eligible, go to: http://www.pge.com/myhome/customerservice/financialassistance/energysavingsassistanceprogram call or call 800-989-9744.

5. Senior Services Directory ~ Pick up this handy 24-page guide to local senior services at the sheriff’s Community Service Unit office in The Junction Shopping Center. Published by the nonprofit Senior Resource Service (SRS), it includes contact information for everything from health care and housing to transportation and emergency services – “anything a senior might need,” says Judy Finley, SRS president. A complete version of the directory (61 pages) is available online at the Friends and Neighbors website, http://www.tcfan.net, under the home-page link titled “Resources.”

6. REACH” or “Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help is a program provided by PG&E and administered by the Salvation Army to help folks with delinquent electricity bills. This from Catherine Driver: “We are working with our local Salvation Army to provide help to elders in need of assistance with their PG&E bills. We will be helping those 62 and over while Salvation Army will work with those under 62. (We will help in the case of a participant in the OE program, regardless of age.) Our part, like the Salvation Army’s, is to assist in filling out the needed paperwork and making sure all appropriate paperwork is included (i.e. PG&E bills, proof of age, etc.). We then call PG&E to make the ‘pledge’ and then fax the paperwork to Salvation Army inSan Francisco. We can be reached at 532-7632 and Salvation Army can be reached at 588-1986. Catherine Driver, Engagement Coordinator, Older Adult Outreach &Engagement Program.” 7. Minor Home Repair ~ Area 12 Agency on Aging offers a program for eligible county seniors “designed to assist seniors over 60 who have home repair problems they cannot resolve which threaten health & safety.” To be eligible, you must: be 60 years of age or older; reside in Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Mariposa Counties; live in your own home. Typical repairs include… (among others) hard to turn faucets; leaky toilets; door knob repair; install grab bars; repair doors and windows; ramp repair. Call Area 12 Today for more information on how you can arrange for needed home repairs 209-532-6272… Or go to: http://www.area12.org/support.aspx. Also, you can view their website at: http://www.area12.org/

In future, we will blog with even more information on matters of interest to county seniors so stay tuned! And please feel free to let us know YOUR ideas for events or forums that you want to see! We actively solicit your comments. You may contact the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging by email at aging2010@gmail.com

To go to:
Area 12 Agency on Aging’s website, go here: http://www.area12.org/
Little House website, go here: http://thelittlehouse.org
Friends and Neighbors website go here: http://seniorfan.com

THANK YOU for reading our blog! Editor Roberta Goodwin
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