Duct tape is wonderful stuff. In fact, I don’t think you can call yourself a bona fide prepper if you don’t have at least a few dozen rolls on-hand at all times. 😉 All kidding aside, duct tape really is a must-have. You should have at least a few rolls at home, a roll in your each of your vehicles, and some in your go-bags. Even better, wrap a few feet around a credit card and stuff it in your wallet (or purse)… I do this and have used it several times.
I should note that if you’re going to rely on duct tape in an emergency situation–and even if it’s not an emergency–then please be sure to purchase good quality, professional grade (or heavy-duty) duct tape. Leave the off-brand, cheap stuff alone! And, while it might seem useful to purchase different colors of duct tape in most cases the silver/grey colored tape is just fine. That said, I do keep a roll of black tape around just because. In some cases, fluorescent duct tape might prove useful but for survival purposes, probably not.
After some thinking about it on my own and a healthy Google search (I list a few of the most influential resources at the end of the post), here’s my list of ways to use duct tape in an emergency:
- Binds everything together – Let’s get the most obvious use out of the way first. From repairing holes in clothing or shoes to mending tears in bags and tents, repair frayed edges of blankets or sleeping bags, and even securing a knife to a stick to fashion a spear, I can’t think of any ONE piece of gear that is more versatile than duct tape when it comes to making repairs or make-shifting anything. After all, if duct tape was good enough for MacGyver, it’s good enough for me.
- Waterproofing – Though not perfect, duct tape makes a pretty good water barrier… at least temporarily. I’ve heard of stories where people even repaired hole in the bottom of a boat with the stuff. Heck, I think Mythbusters MADE a board from duct tape! Anyway, ensure whatever you’re trying to seal is dry and apply duct tape liberally. Combine with something plastic–such as a garbage bag–and you’re in business.
- Reinforce anything – Is something literally falling apart at the seams? No problem… just add duct tape and it will be almost good as new. This is especially useful for boxes and containers… I’ve duct taped ’em all.
- Re-seal food – Didn’t quite finish your freeze-dried meal? Well, you should finish it but if you wanted you could keep it fresh for longer with a strip of duct tape to seal the package back together.
- Make shoes, cups, hats, etc – Again, with enough duct tape and time you make darn near anything from the stuff. In fact, Mythbusters did a show on all the things you could fashion out of duct tape if stranded on an island. It was a good episode that you should consider watching.
- Exercise – People have developed all sorts of ways to use duct tape for fitness, including just holding a roll out at your side for as long as possible… I never would have guessed that one. 😉
- Clothesline – Duct tape is strong enough that if you fold it over and twist then you can hang wet clothes out to dry.
First Aid Uses:
- Bandage – In a pinch you could use duct tape to cover a wound and maybe even use it in place of butterfly bandages. Of course, you probably don’t want the gooey residue in direct contact with an open wound so take steps to protect your wound from the tape by placing a clean gauze, rag, or strip of cloth over the wound first.
- Sling / Brace – While I would prefer to use something as simple as a bandanna for this purpose you could use several feet of duct tape to immobilize an arm or wrist. I’ve also see it recommended to use duct tape to provide support for a cracked rib.
- Remove warts – I’ve done this myself with success. Just place a piece of duct tape over the wart and keep it there for several days (you’ll need to replace it with a new piece fairly often).
- Prevent/minimize blisters – At the first signs of a blister just place duct tape over the spot to reduce friction. If a blister has already formed then place something between the duct tape and blister first to keep from irritating the blister more. The goal is to minimize friction as much as possible.
- Stretcher – If you have enough duct tape you could re-create the webbing using nothing but duct tape, though, it’s far easier to use something like a blanket or sheet instead.
- Tape a sprained ankle (or prevent one) – While not quite athletic tape you could use duct tape to provide additional ankle support.
- Prevent frostbite – Sure, I would have to be very desperate to do this but you could conceivably use duct tape to cover exposed body parts and at the very least keep the wind from directly contacting skin. Again, I wouldn’t want to apply duct tape directly to my skin but I could see how you might fashion a pair of mittens, for example, from duct tape and maybe salvage a few fingertips.
- CPR mask – Obviously not a perfect solution for this task, but you can apparently fold a piece of duct tape on itself (sticky sides together) and cut a slit in the tape to better protect yourself.
- Glasses – I saw this on TheSurvivalDoctor.com but the idea is to poke a bunch of pinholes into duct tape to make what you’re looking at a bit less blurry.
- Snow goggles – Maybe not the same idea as the aforementioned glasses, for people who actually need them you can, alternatively, fashion a pair of glasses out of duct tape and cut a slit in them to reduce glare and therefore prevent snow blindness.
- Tape door bottom in a fire – Although it’s easier and faster to stuff some sort of bedding or towel or clothes in a door crack, you could use duct tape to seal a door completely if needed.
- Seal off a room (for shelter in place scenarios) – Combined with some quality plastic sheeting you can use duct tape to completely seal a room for biological/chemical scenarios.
- Knife sheath – With a little bit of time you could makeshift a knife sheath… just be careful not to cut yourself and keep the sticky side pointed out otherwise you’ll never get your knife out.
- Tape pant legs to boots – Help keep critters and bugs from finding their way up your pants. This could be the best use yet. 🙂
- Blackout curtains – Duct tape (in enough layers) will make an excellent light barrier.
- Fly trap – Fold a strip of duct tape inside-out (so that the stick part is facing out) and hang from the ceiling as a fly strip.
- Rodent control – Can’t say I’ve ever tried this but apparently you can use duct tape to trap small insects and maybe even rodents.
- Repair a broken radiator hose – You’re probably not going to get very far with this repair but it’s better than losing all of your engine coolant due to a pinhole leak. Be sure to wait for the leak to subside before attempting such a repair and wear gloves to avoid burns.
- Repair a flat tire – Maybe this is stretching it a bit but it might be possible to fix a flat as a makeshift tire plug. I’ve seen people suggest they’ve done so.
- Repair other parts of a car – I’m sure you’ve seen people driving around with plastic sheeting duct taped in place where a window used to be. Yeah, use it to seal or hold together all sorts of car parts.
Note that I found the following resources most helpful:
- 34 Ways to Use Duct Tape for Survival
- 15 Sneaky Duct Tape Hacks For Better Health And Fitness
- 101 uses for 100-mph tape
What uses can you think of?