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Consumer Survival Kit
Preparing for hurricane season doesn't have to be a stressful experience. Below you will find links to lists of retail stores and gas stations that can operate during a loss of power, tips for saving money while you prepare for the storm and measures to protect yourself against consumer fraud.
Scams such as price-gouging and home repair rip-offs are common during hurricane season. The Miami-Dade County Consumer Services Division advises residents to inform themselves about their rights as consumers as part of their preparation for the hurricane season.
Consumers who are aware of their rights well in advance of any disaster, and of the scams which often follow in the wake of these events, will be better able to make informed choices. For more information, visit the Miami-Dade Office of the State Attorney's website, or call 305-547-3300.
Hurricane Preparedness on a Budget
- Place drinking water in containers (milk jugs, large soda bottles) and fill up your bath tub before a storm.
- Fill open plastic containers about 2/3 full of water and freeze in your ice box/freezer. Do NOT cover the plastic containers so that the frozen water can expand and not crack the container.
- The blocks of ice will maintain your freezer items cold longer, should electric power go out.
- If there is a "Boil Water Order" and you have run out of bottled water, bring water to a boil for one minute to purify. You may also purify tap water by adding 8 drops of unscented bleach per gallon or by using water purification tablets.
- Transportation to Hurricane Evacuation Centers is provided free of charge by MDT if you live in an evacuation area. Look for the blue "Bus Pickup Point" sign posted around your neighborhood or call 3-1-1 for information.
- Eat perishable items first - throwaway anything in doubt or unrefrigerated.
- Combine resources with family/friends/neighbors.
- Top off your car's gas tank - avoid waiting in long lines with vehicle engine running.]
- Use 2 for 1 coupons when buying canned and other non-perishable items. Put one in your pantry and one in your disaster kit.
- Buy generic and buy in bulk! PET ITEMS TOO!
- Invest in shutters. Shuttering a modest home costs an average of $2000. This investment will pay for itself after just a year or two since most homeowner insurance companies give deep discounts for having these protective features. Additionally, the initial investment of purchasing shutters outweighs the replacement costs of other items such as replacing damaged windows, roofs, water damaged furniture and other household items.
Home Repair After the Storm
If your home is damaged and you are hiring a home repair contractor, the Consumer Services Department offers a checklist of to-dos to get you started on rebuilding your home.
- File a claim with your insurance company.
- Know your contractor. Call references and beware of scams.
- Check complaint history with consumer protection agencies.
- Check the license and insurance.
- Obtain at least three estimates.
- Get promises in writing.
- Avoid paying large sums of money up front.
- Pay by credit card instead of cash.
Learn about your rights regarding price-gouging. Substantially increasing the price of critical goods under emergency conditions is forbidden by law. For prospective homeowners, general information on homeowners insurance is available at reviews.com.
Gas Stations and Stores with Generators or Generator Capability
The attachments below list gas stations and grocery stores in Miami-Dade County that have identified themselves as having backup power capability. However, it is important to keep in mind that factors other than a lack of electricity may keep businesses from opening post-disaster, including structural damage, supply shortages and/or lack of manpower.
Use the below maps to locate the gas stations or stores nearest you, with the understanding that there is no guarantee that the store will be open immediately following a hurricane or other emergency.
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