Call him the everyman of consumer safety: Long Island native Jeff Rossen is one guy who does not shy away from danger. Best known for hosting Rossen Reports on NBC’s “Today” show, the investigative reporter makes it his job to tackle some of the more harrowing in-home challenges, from surviving a natural disaster to spotting hidden mold. Rossen dives into these topics and more in his just-released book, “Rossen to the Rescue: Secrets to Avoiding Scams, Everyday Dangers and Major Catastrophes” (Flatiron Books, $24.99).
Ideas for Rossen’s segments on NBC stem from daily life, something that he says he believes makes his approach so relatable. “When I’m not a reporter, I’m a guy who owns a home, experiencing the same things that people experience and who want to save money,” says Rossen, who was born and raised in Hauppauge. Having purchased a new home in East Quogue earlier this year, Rossen shares his wisdom about how to handle some of the more common house problems like a pro.
Problem: Hidden mold
Undiscovered mold in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry room can wreak havoc on allergy sufferers, especially in the fall. In fact, Rossen reveals that mold was discovered in multiple locations in his own home. “In some refrigerators, there’s a tray underneath that collects drippings, and if you slide it out you may find black mold, liquids and other droppings,” he says.
Under the kitchen sink, mold can develop under bottles of disinfectant and other cleaning supplies. Pipes with a small leak are the culprit and, if left untreated, can pose a larger problem.
In the laundry room, bacteria can build up in washing machines — especially front-loading models.
Solution: Clean drippings pan once or twice a month; wipe down indoor cabinets.
When it comes to washing machines, Rossen writes, “Pull back the rubber lining around the door and wipe it down with paper towels between washes. To help prevent mold entirely, keep the door cracked open so air can get in when you’re not using it. Then the moisture won’t build and the mold won’t grow.”
Problem: Preparing for a house fire
Creating a fire escape plan is one of those things you think you’ll never need to use, but it’s something Rossen says he believes is essential for every household. “When panic strikes, you’d be shocked at how slow your body is to react,” he says.
Solution: Come up with an emergency plan and practice it together as a family. As Rossen writes in his book, “The experts say it’s critical to practice your plan while you’re awake and alert, training our brains for when a real emergency strikes.”
Problem: You’re locked out of the house . . . now what?
It can happen to anyone: You’re running late and rush out the door, forgetting your keys. If you haven’t left a spare set with a neighbor, you’re suddenly at the mercy of a locksmith, someone who may be intent on charging you more than a reasonable rate.
Solution: Line up a local professional ahead of time. “Before you have an emergency . . . go into town and look for a legitimate locksmith,” says Rossen in his book. Once you get his or her business card, program the number into your phone. “That way, you don’t have to scramble to find someone online while you’re stuck outside waiting.”
Problem: Ensuring your deck’s safety
Just because the days of outdoor entertaining are over for the year doesn’t mean your deck is disaster-proof. “We operate under the assumption that if nothing bad happens today, then it won’t happen tomorrow,” says Rossen. But don’t be fooled: A deck collapse is no joke, and with winter on its way — and snowfall due to take its toll on wood — a quick inspection is in order.
Solution: Once a year, take five minutes to examine your deck. “Nails are an immediate red flag,” says Rossen, pointing out that too many nails indicate poor workmanship. “You should see a ton of metal, screws and bolts instead.” Other signs that your decks are not in top condition are a wobbly railing and rotting wood, which makes it far more likely the deck will rip from the main house.
Problem: Getting your home ready for winter
The cost of home heating continues to rise. To shave some dollars off those utility bills, consider Rossen’s home hacks to help make your house winter-ready:
Solutions: Put weather stripping around windows and doors to stop air leaks. When you’re not home, turn your thermostat down to 60 degrees.
WHAT Jeff Rossen will speak and sign copies of his new book “Rossen to the Rescue”
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Oct. 10 at Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington
INFO Event is free, but books to be signed must be purchased at the store; 631-271-1442, bookrevue.com