Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – October 29, 2012 – As Hurricane Sandy approaches our region, your Better Business Bureau urges Pennsylvanians to prepare for all possible effects from the potentially dangerous “super storm.” According to local meteorologists, the largest threat to Pennsylvanians will come from high sustained winds of 25-35 mph and gusts up to 60 mph. Pennsylvania is also expected to receive 2.5-3.5 inches of rain, potentially causing flooding and creating road hazards.
It is important for consumers to be proactive in their emergency preparedness plans by developing a family communication plan and making an emergency supply kit. Your BBB suggests having a basic emergency kit with the following essentials in case of a disaster:
- Emergency Documents Packet: This should contain your social security card, birth certificate, passport, contact information, will and medical directives, insurance, financial accounts, health records, pet information and property deeds/vehicle information.
- Supplies: Store water and food for three days (one gallon per person per day), blankets, a manual can opener, first aid kit, plastic sheeting and duct tape for additional protection from outdoor elements, moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties, a tool kit, local maps, small battery operated radio with extra batteries and a flashlight.
In the event that consumers experience storm damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy, BBB offers the following tips and suggestions for after the storm:
- Document the damage to your property and possessions thoroughly. Take pictures or video if possible. Go room to room or document all debris piles and create a detailed account of your belongings and losses. Contact your insurance adjuster immediately and get the ball rolling on the claims process.
- Beware of fly-by-night contractors. Check to make sure any contractors you are considering hiring are properly licensed and have up-to-date workers’ compensation and liability insurance. Verify the company’s Business Review with the BBB and contact your insurance company to confirm they are approved prior to signing a contract. Remember to never pay more than 1/3 of the job price up front as a rule of thumb.
- Obtain clearly written estimates for roof repairs. Your estimate should include the type of roof covering, manufacturer and color, materials to be included in the work, scope of work to be done, who is responsible for repairing potential damages created during the course of the work, approximate starting and completion dates, payment procedures and the length of warranty/what is covered.
- Ask if a tree service will perform work according to industry standards. If the company mentions “topping a tree,” “lion’s-tailing” or “using climbing spikes to prune a tree” the company does not follow industry standards. Beware of a tree service that is vague about formal credentials as an arborist, offers an unusually low price, pressures you for an immediate decision or only accepts cash payments.
- Dispose of debris safely. When cleaning up debris, assess the types of waste you are dealing with and check with the PA Department of Environmental Protection to see what the disposal procedures should be. The four main categories of debris are branches, trees and vegetative wastes, construction debris, other household wastes and hazardous wastes.
Storm victims should never feel forced to make a hasty decision or choose an unknown contractor. Start With Trust. For more disaster resources, lists of BBB Accredited Businesses by industry and Business Reviews you can trust on local companies, visit www.bbb.org or call 877-267-5222.
About the BBB System
BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews and BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 114 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about the BBB System.