Consumer eViews

Volume 3, Number 45, November 6, 2006

With Veterans Day coming up this weekend, I am urging all Floridians to take time to pray for all of our service men and women, those who have served in the past and those who are serving now.  With Thanksgiving and other important holidays just around the corner, it is fitting that we start by reflecting on what was and still is required to ensure we continue to enjoy all the freedoms and traditions we share.

On Tuesday, our nation’s citizens will have the opportunity to go to the polls and elect their leaders for local, state and national positions.  Our service men and women have answered the call to protect our nation, its people, and all the rights and freedoms this country represents. 

This Veterans Day, honor our service men and women by honoring one of the greatest freedoms they protect – our right to vote.

 -- Tom Gallagher


New connections were made at the first annual Senior Expo sponsored by the Florida Department of Financial Services November 4 in Pensacola.  Several thousand people attended this special event and more than 20 agencies participated.

Free preliminary eye examinations for senior citizens were performed by the Wal-Mart Optical Center.  Local and national non-profits made sure senior citizens were informed about services available in the community. 

Arlene Chrisman, who suffers from lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease, had never found out about the area lupus support group until the expo. The Lupus Support Network was there to lend a helping hand to Mrs. Chrisman. “I’m so glad I came out today,” said Mrs. Chrisman. “Thank you for having this event which has really made a change in my life.”


Florida has experienced the unexpected so far this hurricane season. With less than a month to go, no major storms have developed and it looks like Florida may get through the season unscathed. Now is the perfect time to strengthen your home for the possible occurrence of a storm.

The hurricane damage simulation in this video animation, courtesy of the Associated Press, shows the relative danger and damage to a home as the intensity of a storm increases.

The Saffir-Simpson Scale measures hurricane intensity by the storm's average wind speed and divides hurricanes into five categories, with Category 1 being the mildest and Category 5 the most intense.  It is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf and the shape of the coastline in the landfall region.

To encourage Floridians to strengthen their homes against damage from a storm, the My Safe Florida Home program offers free home inspections to assess wind resistance. Matching grants will be available to help offset the cost of improving a home's ability to withstand a storm.

Visit for details on this state-funded program, which is now taking applications for home inspections.


As the state begins to feel the first winds of winter, State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher is urging Floridians to keep safety in mind when cranking up the fireplace or space heater, including making sure that smoke detectors are working. 

“It is critical that Floridians take precautions to ensure they are ready for the cold weather, including cleaning heaters and fireplaces before the first use,” Gallagher said.   “Disaster can occur in seconds, but following a few safety tips will keep your family safe.” 

Gallagher offered the following tips to help residents weather the cold safely

  • Make sure smoke detectors are working. Install a smoke detector if you do not have one.

  • Be sure to have a flashlight available to use instead of candles in case power is knocked out.

  • Do not use extension cords with electric space heaters. Plug heaters directly into a wall outlet to avoid overheating.

  • Never leave electric space heaters unattended.

  • Keep space heaters and other heat sources at least three feet away from furniture, walls and drapes.

  • Do not use space heaters in bedrooms or sleeping areas. Sleepers could become too warm and toss the bed covers on top of the space heater.

  • Prior to igniting a fireplace, be sure the chimney flue is open to allow carbon monoxide gas to escape.

  • Do not burn anything in the fireplace other than firewood.

  • If your natural gas is shut off or the pilot light needs to be re-lit, contact your local gas company. Do not attempt to turn it on yourself.

  • Have an operable fire extinguisher readily available.

For more fire safety tips, visit and follow the prompts for the State Fire Marshal’s Office.


Recognizing the value of those who have served our country, Governor Bush has declared November 2006 "Hire a Veteran Month" in Florida. This declaration is part of a nationwide campaign to reaffirm our commitment to those who have served our nation in times of peace and war. Florida veterans have consistently and selflessly defended our nation’s security and in the process gained valuable skills, leadership and maturity. They represent a versatile and well-trained workforce, offering prospective employers a track record of integrity, sincerity and trustworthiness. Florida businesses are encouraged to take advantage of this unmatched employment resource. Veterans are also encouraged to take advantage of the Transition Assistance Program, a federally-administered reemployment program for service members leaving the military. For more information on benefits and assistance for veterans, please visit

Consumer Services HelpLine (800) 342-2762

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