This past week, as Tropical Storm Debby slowly passed over our entire state, we were reminded just how important it is to have a disaster preparedness plan. As with this storm, disasters often give little warning and can be devastating, even deadly, at a moment's notice. By preparing ahead of time, you can better protect your family and business if a storm strikes.
After a storm, remember that work performed on your home or business should be completed by a licensed professional. State licenses offer reassurance that the person meets the standard requirements outlined in Florida law for working in a specific field.
Unfortunately, unlicensed activity typically increases during a declared state of emergency because scam artists prey on desperate situations. Unlicensed activity occurs when an individual who does not hold the required license offers to perform or performs services that require a license. Unlicensed activity during a declared state of emergency is a criminal offense and may be punishable by fines or even prison sentences upon conviction.
This unregulated and illegal activity poses a serious threat to consumers because the work an unlicensed person performs may be substandard or even dangerous. Services provided by unlicensed individuals can also pose great financial risk to home and business owners. Floridians should check professional licenses at www.MyFloridaLicense.com and should notify the Department of Business and Professional Regulation of any suspected unlicensed activity by calling 1-866-532-1440 or by emailing ULA@dbpr.state.fl.us.
The 2012 hurricane season has just begun, but it is already proving to be an active season. Prepare your business by securing records, including license copies, in a watertight container in a safe place. Identify essential staff for post-storm recovery and have predetermined locations to meet when conditions permit. Also, prepare a photo or video inventory of assets and store it in a safe location. Finally, assume there will be no phone communications or banking options following a storm and make preparations in advance.
Please add the department's contact information listed above to your disaster plan in the event you need to request a copy of your license or file a complaint about unlicensed activity. You can find additional information on creating a plan at www.FloridaDisaster.org.
Being prepared is the best way to keep your family and business safe this hurricane season.