4 steps to protect your home against disaster

protect_your_home.top.jpg By Josh Garskof, contributor


(MONEY Magazine) -- Three-quarters of families are unprepared for natural disasters, says Russell Bissell of the American Red Cross. Don't be one of them. Stow some water and nonperishable food (see fema.gov for a supplies checklist). You can protect your home from power outages and flooding with these four projects.

1. Add emergency power

Cost: $1,000 to $2,000, with wiring

A portable generator keeps essential electrical items running during blackouts from your heat, refrigerator, and key lights to your Internet and cordless phones. It's a small gas-powered motor on wheels that you start with a lawnmower-like pull cord and jack into a receptacle in an exterior wall of your house.

Make sure your electrician installs a transfer switch, which disengages the utility power when you connect the generator, says electrical engineer John Drengenberg of Underwriters Laboratories.

2. Keep electronics safe

Cost: $500 to $800, including installation by an electrician

When the power kicks back on after a blackout, it often comes with a rush of electricity that fries any silicon chips in its path. You probably have plug-in surge protectors for your computer and home theater, but nowadays there are also expensive-to-replace computer controls inside kitchen and laundry appliances and heating and cooling equipment.

A whole-house surge suppressor will shield everything. Choose one that accepts phone and cable wiring too, because surges can come through those lines as well.

3. Set up a flood fix

Cost: $500 to $1,000 for a new installation; $800 to $1,000 to add battery backup to a new or existing pump

Heavy rains and snows -- as well as plumbing and gutter problems -- can fill your basement or crawlspace with water, causing a big mess and destroying belongings stored down there.

Protect yourself with a sump pump, which sits in a hole in the basement floor and automatically turns on when that pit fills. The best units include an alarm to alert you to flooding and a second, battery-operated pump that kicks on if the primary one stops working.

4. Be ready to evacuate

Cost: $125 for the Four Person Deluxe Home Survival Kit, redcrossbayarea.org

What if you need to get out quickly? A home survival kit contains critical supplies such as thermal blankets, water-purification tablets, waterproof matches, and a Swiss Army knife. Add some cash, toiletries, and a week's supply of prescription medications, and you'll be prepared for anything.  To top of page


Just the hot list include
Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.54%4.62%
15 yr fixed3.86%3.84%
5/1 ARM4.10%4.08%
30 yr refi4.59%4.67%
15 yr refi3.93%3.91%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
  • Find Homes for sale
    Real estate and homes for sale on Trulia

  • Property Type
  • Find a home in: New York | Atlanta | Chicago | Los Angeles
  • Washington D.C | Houston | Philadelphia | More options
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 23,675.64 82.66 0.35%
Nasdaq 6,783.91 30.18 0.45%
S&P 500 2,546.16 0.22 0.01%
Treasuries 2.82 -0.03 -1.12%
Data as of 4:22pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
General Electric Co 7.28 0.13 1.82%
Advanced Micro Devic... 19.50 0.67 3.56%
Bank of America Corp... 24.47 0.00 0.00%
Microsoft Corp 103.97 1.08 1.05%
AT&T Inc 29.75 -0.11 -0.37%
Data as of 4:02pm ET

Sections

Bankrupt toy retailer tells bankruptcy court it is looking at possibly reviving the Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us brands. More

Land O'Lakes CEO Beth Ford charts her career path, from her first job to becoming the first openly gay CEO at a Fortune 500 company in an interview with CNN's Boss Files. More