The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) is reminding the public to be careful of potential scams and dangerous situations ahead of Tropical Storm Henri.
DCP officials say you should pay attention to the following home safety concerns in the coming days:
- Portable generators — Never use a generator inside your home, basement, shed or garage, even if doors and windows are open. Keep generators outside and at least 10 feet away from windows, doors, and vents. Read both the label on your generator and the owner’s manual and follow the instructions.
- Charcoal grills and camp stoves — Never use these indoors. Burning charcoal or a camp stove in an enclosed space can produce lethal levels of carbon monoxide.
- Flammable liquids — Don’t store any flammable liquids, including gasoline or lighter fluid, near your generator or portable grill.
- Carbon monoxide and fire alarms — Change the batteries in your carbon monoxide and fire alarms every year.
- Candles — If possible, use flashlights instead of candles. If you must use them, never leave them burning unattended.
- Electrical and gas safety — Stay away from any downed wires, including cable TV feeds. Avoid standing in water where flooding occurs. Electrical components, including circuit breakers, wiring in the walls and outlets that have been underwater should not be turned on.
- Wet valves — Natural gas or propane valves that have been underwater should be replaced. Smell and listen for leaky gas connections. If you believe there is a gas leak, immediately leave the house and leave the door(s) open. Never strike a match. Any size flame can spark an explosion. Before turning the gas back on, have the gas system checked by a professional.
- Sump pump — Before the storm arrives, check the pump to be sure that it’s operating properly. Lift the float to see if it activates the pump’s motor.
- Profiteering — If you feel you are being charged an unconscionably high price for any storm-related service or item, please report it to the Department of Consumer Protection.
- Repairs — Be sure that anyone you hire for cleanup or repairs is licensed and/or registered with the Department of Consumer Protection by visiting elicense.ct.gov
- Food Safety — Your refrigerator will keep foods cool for about four hours without power if it is unopened. To be safe, remember, "When in doubt, throw it out." Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.
- Medicine Storage — Be sure all medications are properly stored, and, if possible, make sure you have enough supply to last several days.
- Clean-up and repair scams: Scammers often offer clean-up or repair services at a low price and without a contract. By law, home improvement projects must have a contract. Consumers should research potential contractors before making a decision, ask for credential information, identification, proof of insurance, and make sure there is a written signed contract detailing the work that will be done. You can verify credentials by visiting http://www.elicense.ct.gov.
“It’s been almost 30 years since Connecticut has seen a storm of this potential magnitude,” said DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. “We’re reminding everyone to be prepared, if they’re not already, for prolonged power outages, potential scams and possibly dangerous situations. By reviewing and following these tips, consumers can ensure they’re as safe as possible until the storm passes.”
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Officials emphasized that state law prohibits price gouging on consumer items and energy resources during a civil preparedness emergency in Connecticut. Also, energy dealers can't charge excessive prices for energy resources such as heating oil, gas, propane, natural gas, electricity, and wood fuels.
Anyone can file a complaint with the DCP by emailing detailed information including receipts, contracts, and any descriptions or documentation of conversations to email@example.com or by visiting ct.gov/dcp and clicking "File a Complaint."