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Better Business Bureau: Be prepared for hurricane season

By By Tracy Bracy
May 27, 2014 at 12:27 a.m.


The National Weather Service's Hurricane Center sponsors Hurricane Awareness Week from May 25 to Saturday.

The Better Business Bureau urges consumers to pay attention to weather alerts, take necessary safety precautions and plan ahead to avoid potential scams in the wake a storm.

Although the National Weather Service is responsible for issuing timely watches and warnings, it's essential that you be ready before a storm approaches. The Better Business Bureau encourages coastal residents and businesses to prepare for every hurricane season.

In case of severe weather in your area, pay attention to evacuation notices as well as flash flood alerts in your area. Go to a substantial structure or designated shelter. To find important emergency information, visit the National Hurricane Center's website.

Travel safety

June is the beginning of summer, which often means extended travel plans. Unfortunately, it's also a time for crooks to catch you at your most vulnerable.

The Better Business Bureau advises vacationers not to announce their travel plans.

Burglars can use Twitter or Facebook to determine when you'll be away. It's also a good idea to have someone check on your home while away. Overflowing mailboxes and stacked newspapers on a porch can attract criminals.

Leave your laptop computer, important documents and any other personal information locked away in a secret place while you travel. Finally, protect your devices while traveling by using password protection. Visit bbb.org for more travel tips.

Buying athletic equipment

The summer season is the ideal time to get in shape and be beach ready. And you've probably seen those television ads marketing their exercise equipment to deliver quick results. The bureau advises consumers to do their research on those products and claims before handing over their cash. Be skeptical of products that claim to focus on a single body area. It's important to read the fine print. Watch out for deadlines when committing to a free trial, and look for hidden fees that may not be included in the cost, like shipping and handling or restocking fees.

Before buying, find the company's BBB Business Review at bbb.org to see previous customer experiences, history and other background information.

Storage units

If you are planning to rent a unit to empty an overflowing garage, stash furnishings while moving or remodeling or store business supplies for future use, the Better Business Bureau recommends researching storage facilities prior to handing over your precious belongings.

Research any storage facility at bbb.org. Look at the business's BBB Business Review to check for any past history of complaints and how the company addressed those complaints. Obtain written cost estimates from at least three facilities.

Costs to consider include the monthly rental fee; storage preparation, padding, packing or transportation fees; and fees for extra options such as electricity, pest control and insurance. Get everything in writing. Terms should be clearly listed. Find more tips at Watchyourbuck.com.

Tracy Bracy is the regional director of the Better Business Bureau for Corpus Christi/Victoria. Contact her by e-mail at info@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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