Published: Aug 24, 2012 4:59 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 24, 2012 5:00 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - People stocking up on essentials like food and gasoline are already starting to complain about price gouging. So what is considered price gouging and is it illegal?

According to Florida law, during a state of emergency, it's against the law to sell essential items, like food, ice, and gas for an amount way above the average price. That's called price gouging.

If the governor were to declare a state of emergency, Florida officials would then look at the average price for essential items during the 30-days prior to the declared state of emergency. If there was a big difference between the prior price and the current price, it's considered to be price gouging.

Again, the price gouging law only takes effect when the governor declares a state of emergency and only covers essential commodities. It does not cover non-essential or luxury items like alcohol and cigarettes.

You can avoid becoming a victim of price gouging by making sure to stock up on the essential items like gas and water before a storm. If you suspect price gouging, keep a hold of your receipts and report the information to the state's Attorney General's "Price Gouging Hotline" at 1-866-966-7226 or you can file a complaint online by clicking on this link.

To learn more about price gouging, click on this link.