GOOD HOUSEKEEPING REPORTS: Lab-approved ways to disaster-proof your home

Flooding is the surprise disaster many feel the least prepared to handle, reveals a recent Good Housekeeping Home Safety survey. (Photo by Mike Garten)

Whether you’re an owner or a renter, stay one step ahead of fires, leaks, floods and worse with our expert advice to avoid costly repairs and keep your family safe.


In a recent survey, you told us that unexpected flames are your No. 1 home concern. Follow this checklist to ease your fire fears:

1. Assess your equipment.

Make sure you have smoke detectors inside bedrooms, and smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home, including in the basement. Create a schedule to test alarms monthly, change batteries at least once a year and replace all devices every 10 years. Place extinguishers in rooms with fire risk (think kitchen, garage, laundry room); replace them every five years.

2. Close the door before bed.

Half of all fatal home fires start between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., which means flames may grow before you realize anything is the matter. Shutting bedroom doors dramatically slows the spread of smoke, flames and heat, buying you crucial minutes to get up and out.

3. Have an escape plan.

For everyone, including pets. Identify at least two potential escape routes for each family member, and practice twice a year. If you have kids, be sure they know what the alarms sound like and how to get out in case you can’t safely reach them.

4. Never go back inside.

Risking more smoke inhalation is never worth it. The best thing you can do is wait for emergency responders and tell them if anyone is still inside.

Fire Fact: Three minutes is about how long you have to escape a home fire today (compared with 17 minutes 30 years ago), because of faster-burning synthetic materials and furniture.

Inspect gutters in the rain. Brave the next storm to ensure that water flows away from your foundation, and pay attention to gaps between downspouts and drainage pipes, says Steve Wadlington, president of WIN Home Inspection.

Replace air filters … way more often! As dirt and dust build up, the systems have to work harder for the same results, which means higher utility bills and potentially a total failure. Change your heating and cooling filters about every three months. Sign up for a recurring delivery from FilterEasy, and you won’t have to remember anything!

Add a flood sensor. Water damage is among the worst home issues, and claims related to it are the most common ones Esurance gets — usually due to leaky pipes, clogged drains or old plumbing. Place a flood detector in your basement or near pipes prone to leaks, and it will alert you when it senses water. You can also get ones with a cable sensor to put on your sump pump. LAB PICK: Fibaro flood sensor, $70,

Install smart smoke alarms. New models can work with apps and send you an alert if smoke is detected, no matter where you are. Even better? First Alert’s device doubles as a Bluetooth speaker that works with Alexa and packs good sound quality. LAB PICK: First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound, $249,


Inside the GH Beauty Lab

The look-gorgeous news, tricks and trends you need to know from Good Housekeeping’s in-house scientists and experts.

Q: Is there such a thing as natural perfume? — Samantha N.

A: There’s no industry-standard definition (or regulation) of the term “natural” for any beauty product. That said, a perfume considered natural generally “contains raw materials derived solely from plants,” explains Linda G. Levy, president of The Fragrance Foundation. “But natural isn’t always better — if only natural ingredients were used in fragrances, the environment would suffer [due to the depletion of natural resources] — and the synthetic ingredients that are used to mimic natural ones are considered safe.” Three of our favorites: Lavanila Laboratories The Healthy Fragrance in Fresh Vanilla Lemon, $58, Sephora; Clean Reserve Avant Garden Muguet & Skin Eau de Parfum, $150,; and Pacifica Himalayan Patchouli Berry Spray Perfume, $22, Target.

Recalls Alert

The following products and vehicles were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unless otherwise indicated, discontinue use of the products immediately and return them to the store where purchased for a refund. For more information about the products, call the manufacturer or CPSC’s toll-free hotline, 800-638-2772. Only some cars or trucks recalled are affected. Contact a dealer for your model to see if it is included in the recall. The dealer will tell you what to do.


RIDGID(r) NXT HD06000 and HD09000 wet/dry vacuums, sold at The Home Depot stores nationwide and online at from March 2018 through July 2018 for about $50 for the 6-gallon wet/dry vacuum and for about $60 for the 9-gallon wet/dry vacuum.

The on/off switch can become dislodged and expose energized wiring, posing a shock hazard to consumers. Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled wet/dry vacuum and contact Emerson Tool Company at 888-847-8718 or online at and click on “Safety Notifications.”

2018-1209 Ram 1500 DS pickup trucks

The rear differential may have been insufficiently filled, possibly resulting in its failure. If the rear axle assembly fails, it can cause a loss of drive or the rear wheels may lock up, increasing the risk of a crash. Dealers will inspect the rear axle oil level, and rear axles with an insufficient amount of oil will be replaced for free. Ram parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will begin notifying owners Oct. 12. Owners can call the automaker at 800-853-1403 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 to learn more.

© Hearst Communications Inc.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate



GOOD HOUSEKEEPING REPORTS: Lab-approved ways to disaster-proof your home–