“There is research that indicates that, in some cases, drawing from an alternative liquidity source [such as a reverse mortgage] instead of from portfolios during down markets may help protect the sustainability of portfolios over the course of retirement,” said Miller.

Still, reverse mortgages are complex. “Fees can cut significantly into the hoped-for cash flow,” cautioned Kimberly Foss, founder and president of Empyrion Wealth Management in Roseville, Calif. She judges reverse mortgages a “final option, rather than a first recourse.”

Of course, the biggest danger with all these home equity options is that, if you default, the lender can take away your home.

Life Insurance
If that thought makes you too queasy, consider the cash value of your permanent (whole or universal) life insurance. (Term insurance doesn’t have cash value.)

“Cash-value insurance can be a very powerful vehicle to utilize,” said Tom Henske, financial advisor at The Affluent Insurance Advisor in New York City. “During volatile markets, retirees with a healthy amount of cash value in their whole life policies might choose to draw from this account while their equity accounts are temporarily down, allowing these equity accounts to remain undisturbed until such time as the markets stabilize.”

There are several ways to access the cash value. Depending on the policy, you may be able to get a low-interest loan against it or take a straightforward withdrawal from it, which is really an advance on the death benefit. The latter normally doesn’t have to be paid back and is tax-free up to the amount of the premiums paid into the policy.

Either way, the policy will have less value until the money is repaid. Then again, if you no longer care about the policy, you can always “surrender the policy for its cash value,” said Foss.

Some annuities have cash value, too. But there are likely to be surrender charges for early distributions. “Early” is often as long as 10 years after the annuity contract is executed. “During that period, some contracts allow an investor to access up to 10%  of the contract value,” said John McCafferty, director of financial planning at Edelman Financial Engines in Alexandria, Va.

But, he cautioned, “this tends to be a less tax-friendly strategy.” Loans taken from annuity contracts are deemed distributions and are therefore taxable.

If it’s a qualified account, you can’t withdraw funds before you’re age 59-and-a-half without incurring an additional 10% penalty—on top of the income tax due.