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May 20, 2011

Update Your Do Not Call Registration

Are you receiving unwanted telemarketing calls, in spite of having signed up years ago to be placed on the Do Not Call List? The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General is reminding state residents that their initial registration may have expired, explaining the unwanted calls.

Registration on Pennsylvania's list is valid for five years from the date of initial registration, or when a telephone number is no longer valid. The AG's Office offers an example of those who were among the first group of registrants in 2002; they had to re-register by September 15, 2007, or their number was dropped from the Do Not Call list on November 1, 2007.

Depending upon the last date you registered your number, you may need to re-register. Individuals experiencing problems with telemarketers can also file a complaint with the Bureau of Consumer Protection or call 1-800-441-2555 for further assistance.

You may also wish to register your number with the National Do Not Call Registry. Don't forget to register your cell phone number with both the Pennsylvania and National websites.

PA State Police Help with Child Safety Seat Installation

If you find yourself confused about the proper installation of your child's safety seat, the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) is setting aside the upcoming Memorial Day period to focus on the seat's use and installation during the national "Click It or Ticket" campaign.

From May 23 through June 5, 2011, 600 municipal police departments and the PA State Police will participate in the 2011 "Cracking Down on Seat Belt Use Especially at Night" campaign along with the educational efforts of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Some 45 safety seat use and installation events will be conducted as part of the highway safety campaign. If you are unable to attend one of the specially-designated use and installation events, consult the list of regularly scheduled safety seat clinics conducted throughout the year.

In addition, the PSP is reminding the motoring public of the Commonwealth's seat belt law:

  • Under Pennsylvania's primary child passenger safety law, children under the age of four must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat anywhere in the vehicle.
  • Children from age four up to age eight must be restrained in an appropriate booster seat.
  • Children from age 8 up to age 18 must be in a seat belt.

For related information, contact your local PSP Troop.

The Truth About Bath Salts

Bearing names like Ivory Wave, Red Dove, and Bliss, the Pennsylvania Department of Health is issuing a new fact sheet to assist the general public in discerning the truth about bath salts.

Bath salts containing the stimulants mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) bear nothing in common with actual bath salts used for soaking in the bathtub. While clearly labeled, "Not for Human Consumption", the bath salts are leaving those who snort, inject, or smoke it with hallucinations, paranoia, rapid heart rates, and suicidal thoughts. 

Numerous cases of permanent physical and mental impairment or death are being reported across the country. Poison control centers in the U.S. received 302 calls regarding bath salts during 2010. Calls spiked to 214 in January 2011 alone, as poison control centers see cases of continued misuse and abuse of bath salts. The American Association of Poison Control Centers, as of mid-May 2011, reports 2,237 calls related to bath salts. 

The poison control centers are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Free and confidential services are available at 1-800-222-1222.

Preventing Unclaimed Property

The Pennsylvania Treasury annually receives millions of dollars in unclaimed property, according to the Department. During 2010, the Treasury returned $99 million to more than 72,000 owners.

While the Treasury is currently seeking the owners of over $1.5 billion in unclaimed property, it is also offering tips to avoid having your property become unclaimed:

  • Maintain accurate records of bank accounts, stocks, safe deposit boxes, life insurance policies, and other financial matters.
  • Correspond with all financial institutions holding savings, checking, IRA, certificate of deposit, and all other accounts at least once every three years.
  • Cash all checks for dividends, insurance benefits and wages. If you stop receiving dividends, contact the company that issues the dividends.
  • Notify a family member or trusted adviser of the location of your financial records.
  • Prepare a checklist of all financial assets in order to notify all concerned parties if you change your address.

As you tighten up your record-keeping, remember approximately one in ten Pennsylvanians already have unclaimed property. The Treasury recommends you enter your name and those of family and friends into the Unclaimed Property Database or call 1-800-222-2046.

Pennsylvania Kicks Off Black Fly Suppression Program

If you spot a helicopter flying low along any of the 47 Pennsylvania rivers and streams in the thirty-three counties participating in the 2011 Black Fly Suppression Program, you are no doubt among the more than 3 million Pennsylvania residents and countless tourists who will enjoy outdoor activities with little interference from those pesky black flies or gnats, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Through aerial spraying, naturally occurring soil bacteria, referred to as Bti, are used as a microbial insecticide to control the spread of vector-borne diseases, protect public health, and manage insect pest species. Research demonstrates that Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. Israelensis) is nontoxic to humans, mammals, birds, beneficial insects, fish, plants, and most aquatic organisms.

DEP recommends a number of steps to avoid black flies:

  • Schedule outdoor activities during late evening and early morning hours, when black flies (gnats) are usually not as active.
  • Stay indoors on warm, cloudy, humid summer days, and before summer thunderstorms, when gnats are most aggressive.
  • Wear light-colored clothing because black flies are attracted to dark colors.
  • Wear hats, pants and long-sleeved shirts for maximum skin protection, because black flies don't bite through clothing.
  • Wear glasses or goggles to help prevent adult black flies from entering your eyes.
  • Use insect repellent products, such as DEET and citronella oil, to deter black flies.
  • Don't wear perfumes, colognes, deodorants, hairsprays and other toiletries, which may attract black fly gnats.
  • Remember that smoke from punk sticks and campfires repel black flies.

If yours is not among the participating counties and you are experiencing a serious black fly problem, you may file a report with your local coordinator.

Exposing the Lives of Hatchling, Fledgling, and Adult Bluebirds

From the state that brought you "Falcon Cam", now comes the "Bluebird Nestbox Cam" and the first of four Eastern bluebird hatchlings being fed and nurtured as viewers tune in to the live video feed from an equipped bluebird nestbox on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC).

The color, infrared video feed and audio from the bluebird nestbox affords viewers a priceless peak into the everyday lives of the nesting bluebirds. The PGC expects the current chicks may leave the nest by the end of May making way for the adult bluebirds to nest a second and possibly third time this season.

Catch the cam and then erect your own Eastern bluebird nestbox for an up close and personal look from your own backyard. These and other bird boxes are available through the PGC's bird box conservation program.

The decline in farmland during the 1900s; the introduction of starlings and house sparrows in New York City during the 1800s; and, the increased use of pesticides nearly decimated the Eastern bluebird population by 1960, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC).

Through an aggressive conservation effort, the PGC joined forces with like-minded clubs and organizations interested in restoring the Commonwealth's bluebird population. According to the PGC, the state's bluebird population, which is stronger today than it has been in 50 years due in large part to the dedication of time and continued assistance from caring Pennsylvanians, is expected to flourish in the 21st century.

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