Before Storms Strike: Department Advises Consumers to Prepare Emergency “Toolbox” Containing Contact Information of Trusted, Licensed Workers in Case of Emergency
HARTFORD, August 22 — As local weather forecasters start to track tropical storms and hurricanes with potential to reach our shores, the Department of Consumer Protection is advising consumers to plan ahead for storm damage. In the northeast, peak hurricane season runs between August and October, with September historically seeing the most storms. Once that ends in November, the frozen blasts of winter are not far away.
“Just about anyone living in New England already knows how and when to prepare and stay safe in all kinds of weather, and that’s certainly a good thing,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said today. “But how good are we at handling the clean-up afterward? I’m hoping to convince consumers to think in advance about who they would depend on to set things right if stormy weather damages their property.”
The Department recommends that consumers take the time now to research, verify, and store certain key business contacts in a couple of convenient locations at home, in the car, and if possible, on a mobile device.
Five Must-Haves for Everyone’s Home “Toolbox”
- Locksmith - Find a local, reputable locksmith now and be sure they’re properly registered with the Department of Consumer Protection. Many fly-by-night companies rely on business from frantic, last-minute internet searches. Now is the time – before you’re locked out of your car or home -- to look up locksmiths and choose one that has a good reputation and a registration with the Department of Consumer Protection. Store that name and number in few safe places, including your cell phone!
- Plumber - If you don’t have a regular plumber, talk to friends and family about who they’ve used, and whether they did a good job at a fair price. Important: Did they clean up afterwards? There are many plumbing license types; each is qualified for a different type of plumbing work. Click here to review license types and scope of work for plumbing licensees. Check references and choose the individual you feel comfortable with.
- Electrician – Ask for references from people you trust, set up interviews, and choose a business to work with. Different license types are qualified for different types of electrical work. Generally someone with an E-1 license is qualified to do any and all types of electrical work around your home, but you can click here to review license types and scope of work for electrical licensees.
- Home Improvement Contractor(s) - Talk to people who are having work done now or in the recent past, get names and carefully check references. You may want to speak with your local building inspector, especially to learn who you should avoid. Remember to verify that your contractors are registered with the Department of Consumer Protection!
- Tree Service / Arborist - If a tree falls on your property and needs to be completely removed, you can use a registered home improvement contractor for the removal work. But in order to treat a tree with broken limbs -- a tree you want to save -- you need the services of a licensed arborist. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection licenses arborists, so be sure that anyone you choose is properly licensed and insured
Anyone not licensed or registered and properly insured should NOT be included on your emergency list -- find someone else! When dealing with emergency damage, you don’t need more problems arising from work being done improperly or illegally. Except for arborists, you can verify all the above licenses and registrations online at https://www.elicense.ct.gov. To verify an arborist license, call the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection at (860) 424-3369.