Be Prepared: Emergency Advice From Our Field Editors
Spare sump pump
Most people don't discover that their sump pumps
are dead until after a major storm or flood. And that's
when the stores are sold out. So buy a spare now
(prices start at about $60). If possible, buy a pump
that's similar to your existing pump so you won't need
to mess with different fittings in an emergency.
Kittery Point, MD
Stash away cash
A few years ago, our region suffered an extended
blackout. Our most important lesson learned: Keep an
emergency cash reserve. When the power goes out,
ATMs shut down and stores may not be able to
process credit cards.
Instant leak stopper
After a record-breaking rainstorm, my basement
sprang a leak. I mixed up a batch of hydraulic cement,
stuck a handful over the leak and held it there for a
couple of minutes until it hardened. Problem solved.
Now I always keep a small pail of the stuff around—just in case. (A 3-lb. bag of fast-setting hydraulic
cement costs about $7 at home centers.)
Cherry Hill, NJ
Power cords from a
portable generator can
enter the house through a
door or window, but I created
a passage that doesn't let in bugs, noise or rain.
It's just a pair of 3-in. threaded PVC fittings that pass
through my garage wall. I unscrew the plugs, run the
cords through and then stuff rags in the hole.
car into a
If you want light-duty
backup power, consider an
inverter that connects to your
car's battery. For less than $100, you can power a few
lights or a small TV. For about $200, you can get an
inverter that will handle bigger loads like a microwave
or space heater. The 750-watt power inverter shown
here ($75; blackanddecker.com) is available at auto
parts and discount stores. There's more to using an
inverter than just connecting it to your car's battery, so
do some research before you buy (donrowe.com is a
good place to start). And if you want serious power, a
backup generator is a much better option.