(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||4.12%||4.02%|
|15 yr fixed||3.56%||3.49%|
|30 yr refi||4.13%||4.02%|
|15 yr refi||3.55%||3.49%|
Today's featured rates:
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
Honda and General Motors are creating a new generation of fully autonomous vehicles. More
In 1998, Ntsiki Biyela won a scholarship to study wine making. Now she's about to launch her own brand. More
Whether you hedge inflation or look for a return that outpaces inflation, here's how to prepare. More