Rattlesnake Do's and Don'ts in the Trails of the Conejo Valley and Neighboring Areas

I've seen more snakes in the trails of the Conejo Valley in recent years than I can ever recall, some, but not all of which are rattlesnakes.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, rattlesnakes are generally not aggressive but can strike when they feel threatened or provoked. If you come across one on the trail, just back off and give them room to retreat. They don't want to mess with you!

Rattler crossing the Rosewood Trail on a sunset hike.

Rattler crossing the Rosewood Trail on a sunset hike.

It is rare that rattlesnakes cause serious injury to humans. According to the California Poison Control Center, rattlesnakes account for 800 bites each year, with only one or two deaths. Most bites occur during the months of April through October, when both humans and snakes are active outdoors. About 25% of bites are dry (i.e. no venom), but still require medical treatment.

Do's and Don'ts

  • Wear shoes when out hiking in the trails.

  • Stay ON the trails...don't venture out into the underbrush, where snakes may be hiding.

  • Watch what you touch with your hands too...especially if it's dark and hard to see.

  • Leave them alone. They are fun to watch, but do so from a distance. Don't try to pick them up.

Is it a Rattler or a Gopher Snake?

On the trails of the Conejo Valley I've come across rattlesnakes, gopher snakes, king snakes, garter snakes and perhaps a few others I wasn't able to identify. The rattlesnakes are the ones to be particularly wary of because of their venom, so be aware of the following distinctions:

Rattlesnakes are wider/heavier than most of the other local snakes and have a triangular-shaped head, broader at the back than at the front, with a distinct "neck." They have openings between the nostrils and the eyes. There are a series of dark and light bands near the tail which look different from the markings on the rest of the body.  DO NOTE that rattles may not always be present as they may have fallen off are are not always developed on a young rattler.

For some great information on identifying California snakes, visit www.californiaherps.com/identification/snakesid/common.html.

Notice the stocky size of this rattlesnake, the clear rattle, and the different series of dark and lights bands leading down towards the rattle.

Notice the stocky size of this rattlesnake, the clear rattle, and the different series of dark and lights bands leading down towards the rattle.

Beautiful King Snake (known for lunching on rattlesnakes).

Beautiful King Snake (known for lunching on rattlesnakes).

Gopher snake crossing the trail in   Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa  .

Gopher snake crossing the trail in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa.

Gopher snake on the   Vista Del Mar Trail   in Newbury Park.

Gopher snake on the Vista Del Mar Trail in Newbury Park.

Emergency Response Systems in Ventura County and Surrounding Areas

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VC Alert is a free service provided by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services and participating cities. It launched in January 2012.

All 10 cities in Ventura County utilize the VC Alert system - Camarillo, Fillmore, Moorpark, Ojai, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Santa Paula, Thousand Oaks, Ventura and Simi Valley as well as unincorporated areas of Ventura County.

The VC Alert database includes all listed and unlisted landline telephone numbers serviced by AT&T and Verizon.  If you would like to ensure that you will be contacted on your home phone, cellular phone, work phone, TTY device, email, fax or text messaging, you must register that information using the opt in VC Alert portal. All information you provide will be kept strictly confidential.

VC Alert alerts residents about emergencies and other important community news.  The system enables officials to provide essential information quickly when there is a threat to the health or safety of Ventura County residents. To learn more and to register online, visit www.vcalert.org or call 805.648.9283.

The City of Westlake Village uses Blackboard Connect for telephone emergency response recordings for hazards, warnings, evacuations, updates, etc. Land lines are already in the database but you may register additional lines. westlakevillage.bbcportal.com. More info at www.wlv.org/191/Emergency-Notifications.

The City of Agoura Hills also uses Blackboard Connect for emergency response services at cityofagourahills.bbcportal.com/Entry. More info at www.ci.agoura-hills.ca.us/i-want-to/sign-up/connect-cty. There’s also a call-in emergency information line available at 818.597.7301.

City of Calabasas residents are also encouraged to sign up for emergency updates through its Blackboard Connect system at calabasase911.bbcportal.com/Entry. There’s also a call-in emergency info line available at 818.224.1600.

The City of Malibu’s call-in emergency hotline is 310.456.9982. The city's radio station is WPTD AM 1620. The City of Malibu has its own emergency alerts system at member.everbridge.net/index/453003085613099

Los Angeles County residents in Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Malibu, etc. can sign up for Alert LA County. a free mass notification system for Los Angeles County residents at www.lacounty.gov/emergency/alert-la.

Ready Ventura County is a local emergency response planning and information reporting site that is used extensively during local emergencies. www.readyventuracounty.org

Ventura County emergency alert radio stations: KVTA 1590 AM, KHAY 100.7 FM, KMLA 103.7 FM (SPANISH)

Volunteer Opportunities in Ventura County

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Looking for a job? Why not help yourself by filling in the gaps in your resume with new experiences while helping others! Or if you are just looking to give back to the local community, there are hundreds of opportunities to volunteer throughout Ventura County. Here's where to find volunteer opportunities:

The United Way of Ventura County hosts www.VolunteerVenturaCounty.org, which lists numerous upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Since 1998, VolunteerMatch.org has helped volunteers find over 4 million volunteer matches at over 60,000 non-profits across the country. You type in your zip code and in my case today it identified over 200 volunteer opportunities within a 20 mile radius of Newbury Park.

Or visit the Local Charities section of Conejo Valley Guide and you'll find over 100 Ventura County area non-profit organizations, most of which could use your help. I clicked a few and found plenty of volunteer needs publicized on each entity's website, like MANNA Food Bank, L.I.F.E. Animal Rescue in Agoura, Hospice of the Conejo, Friends of the Thousand Oaks Library, and CareGivers - Volunteers Assisting the Elderly.

You could also join one of over 80 service organizations in the Service Clubs section of CVG. The Rotary, Kiwanis, Optimist, Assistance League, Lions Club and other organizations provide needed services to others in need. 

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary seeks volunteers ages 17 and up to join its local Channel Islands flotilla. Bring the USCG AUX your skills or join to develop your leadership skills through numerous free classes and workshops offered. The USCG AUX was established by Congress in 1939 to assist the Coast Guard in promoting boating safety. Volunteers assist the Coast Guard in non-law enforcement programs such as safety patrols, search and rescue, maritime security, vessel safety checks, public safe boating classes and watchstanding. Visit www.d11s.org for more information.

Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County seeks volunteers for its ReStores, with shifts available Tuesday through Saturday. Visit www.habitatventura.org/habitat-restore-merchandising to learn more and sign up.

Volunteer opportunities in Thousand Oaks: toaks.org/departments/human-resources/volunteer

Volunteer opportunities in Simi Valley: www.simivalley.org/index.aspx?page=355

Volunteer opportunities in Ventura: www.cityofventura.net/volunteeropportunities

Volunteer opportunities in Camarillo: www.cityofcamarillo.org/departments/city_clerk/volunteer_citizen_appointment.php

Volunteer opportunities in Moorpark: moorparkca.gov/389/Volunteering-in-Moorpark

Volunteering in the City of Westlake Village: www.wlv.org/index.aspx?nid=320

City of Agoura Hills Volunteers on Patrol: www.ci.agoura-hills.ca.us/department/police-and-fire/volunteers-on-patrol-vop

Volunteer opportunities in Calabasas: www.cityofcalabasas.com/volunteer.html

Volunteering for the County of Ventura: www.ventura.org/employment/volunteering-for-the-county-of-ventura

How about the National Park Service? Check the local Santa Monica Mountains volunteer opportunities and Channel Islands National Park volunteer opps.

Also check out the volunteer opportunities with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

There are shelters and meal providers throughout Ventura County that could use your help too.

California Law Has Required Gas Stations to Provide Free Water, Air and Air Pressure Gauge For Customers Since January 2000

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There’s a law that was passed in 1999, that made it a requirement for service stations in California to provide free water, compressed air and an air pressure gauge to customers who purchase fuel.

A service station is defined as an establishment that offers gasoline or other motor vehicle to the public.

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I was not aware of this law until just recently, when a few folks shamed me on paying $1.00 to fill the air in my tires. (That said, I was not a paid customer at the time. So technically I was not legally entitled to free compressed air.)

Section 13651 of the California Business and Professions Code further indicates “Every service station in this state shall display, at a conspicuous place on, at, or near the dispensing apparatus, at least one clearly visible sign which shall read as follows: CALIFORNIA LAW REQUIRES THIS STATION TO PROVIDE FREE AIR AND WATER FOR AUTOMOTIVE PURPOSES TO ITS CUSTOMERS WHO PURCHASE MOTOR VEHICLE FUEL. IF YOU HAVE A COMPLAINT NOTIFY THE STATION ATTENDANT AND/OR CALL THIS TOLL-FREE TELEPHONE NUMBER: 1 (800) ___ ____. “

So perhaps this post will save someone from unnecessarily paying 75 cents to $1.50 to fill up their tires.

There is no requirement to provide the air for free to non-paying customers.

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Sick With the Flu? Know What To Do!

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Influenza (or flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. Most people with flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If you get flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with others except to get medical care.

Know the symptoms of Flu

Flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms: Fever* or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (tiredness). Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea. This is more common in children.

* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

Take Antiviral Drugs if your doctor prescribes them!

Antiviral drugs can be used to treat flu illness. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They also can prevent serious flu complications.

CDC recommends that antiviral drugs be used early to treat people who are very sick with the flu and people who get flu symptoms who are at high risk of serious flu complications, either because of their age or because they have a high risk medical condition.

Stay Home When Sick

When you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible. Remember to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw tissues in the trash after you use them. Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.

*Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine before resuming normal activities.

www.cdc.gov/flu/takingcare.htm

Bicycle Safety Tips From the Ventura County Sheriff's Office

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Each year, hundreds of bicyclists in California are involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. Here are some important facts bicyclists and motorists should know.

California vehicle code section 21202(a): Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at the same time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

A bicycle ridden at night must be equipped with a lamp emitting a white light. There must also be a red reflector on the rear of the bicycle that must be visible from 500 feet when directly in front of a motor vehicle whose headlights are on.

Riders under the age of 18 must wear a helmet at all times. All riders, regardless of age, should wear a helmet at all times to reduce injuries.

No person shall drive a motor vehicle in a bicycle lane established on a roadway except to park where parking is permitted, to enter or leave the roadway, or to prepare for a turn within a distance of 200 feet from the intersection.

Bicyclists must travel on the right side of the roadway in the direction of traffic, except when passing, making a legal left turn, riding on a one-way street, riding on a road that is too narrow, or when the right side of the road is closed due to road construction. (CVC 21650.)

Handlebars must not be higher than the rider's shoulders. (CVC 21201(b))

A driver of a motor vehicle shall not overtake or pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway at a distance of less than three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator. (CVC 21760(c))

Bicyclists must obey the rules of the road because they travel along the roadway with other motorists. It is important to note drivers and bicyclists must share the road. When making turning movements in a car or on a bike, use caution, be seen (appropriate lighting after dark) and be predictable.

The Thousand Oaks Traffic Bureau urges citizens to drive their cars and ride their bicycles responsibly. Wear equipment to protect you and make you more visible to others, like a bike helmet, bright clothing (during the day), reflective gear, and a white front light and red rear light and reflectors on your bike (at night, or when visibility is poor). Plan your route if driving as a vehicle on the road; choose routes with less traffic and slower speeds. Your safest route may be away from traffic altogether, in a bike lane or on a bike path.

For more information on bicycle safety, visit:

www.safekids.org/bike

www.ots.ca.gov/grants/pedestrian-and-bicycle-safety

www.calbike.org/go_for_a_ride/california_bicycle_laws

You also avert motorists when you ride on some of these class I (protected) bike paths around Ventura County.

Daylight Saving Time is Back Again on the 2nd Sunday of March

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Daylight Saving** Time is coming back again! Yes, this will take place on Sunday, March 10, 2019. When the clock strikes 2 a.m. that morning, you will lose one hour of beauty sleep. Daylight Saving Time begins in most of the U.S. on the 2nd Sunday of March.

So try to get to bed early that night or you may feel grumpy on Monday! Especially when you realize it feels a lot darker that morning. But the good thing is, it'll be a lot lighter out at dinnertime!

** Contrary to what many of us think, it is called Daylight Saving Time, not Savings Time. Make sure to correct anyone who says it wrong if you really want to get on their nerves. But the reality of it is that we're not saving any daylight, we're just shifting it around.

MY VENTING SESSION ON DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME :>