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Japan’s nuclear disaster introduced a new generation of homeowners to the complexities of living near a nuclear power plant. I’m Clark Palmer with your Bankrate.com personal finance minute.

The 2010 U.S. Census found that the number of residents living within 10 miles of a nuclear plant increased by 17 percent in the last decade. That might be because most plants are located on bodies of water away from large populations.

If you decide to live next to nuclear power, you may want to disaster-proof your home. While there’s no way to stop direct radiation, you can block 95 percent of the more dangerous airborne particles without spending a lot of money. You can use plastic sheeting and duct tape to create airtight barriers over door, window and chimney openings.

If disaster strikes, two photovoltaic solar panels may be enough to power your gas furnace, refrigerator, water pump and laptop indefinitely.

Fortunately, you don’t have to buy nuclear disaster insurance. Every American already has it thanks to the nuclear industry contingency fund mandated by Congress in 1957. It’s currently valued at $12.9 billion dollars.

For more tips on insurance issues, visit Bankrate.com. I’m Clark Palmer.