Duct tape in an emergency pinch

A woman holding a heavy duty roll of duct tape.

I recently attended a student fashion show where all the clothing items were made from get this – duct tape! There were skirts, shirts, hats and even an evening gown. It got me thinking, if you can put on an entire fashion show using duct tape, a few rolls of this sticky wonder in your emergency supply kit is a must.

How can you use duct tape in an emergency situation? After some thinking about it (and a thorough Google search) I can tell you that the uses of this tape in real survival situations are endless. People are using the tape to patch holes in airplanes mid-flight, make rain gear, build shelters and provide first aid. Hopefully, you are never in a situation where you have to patch a hole in a plane, but you get the idea. The stuff is cheap, handy and can help you out in an emergency.

For those of you who want to try your own projects I have a few recommendations –Unless you’re a modern day Macgyver (Google it if you’re under 40) look to duct tape to help you out in smaller emergencies that come up. Like you need to seal something or keep something in place. Also, test your projects out before you really use them and be sure to purchase the heavy kind of duct tape. There are lots of fun colors out there to choose from but they are usually very thin. You can find the heavy duty stuff at your local hardware store. It’s usually black or grey. If you can’t resist the colors it’s ok. Adding a fluorescent roll can be useful if you want to make your jacket or your disaster kit more visible. But, I would only use it for that. If you end up making something that works out please share.

In the meantime, to inspire you, here’s my own list of nine simple ways to use duct tape in an emergency situation:

  1. Close cuts. Cut two small strips of tape, add a smaller strip across their centers (sticky side to sticky side) to create a makeshift butterfly suture.
  2. Splint a limb. A broken arm or leg can be supported until help arrives by wrapping it with padding, adding splint material and securing it with duct tape.
  3. Reseal food containers. Once you open cans or bags holding your food items you will want to close them up tight. A few sticks of duct tape will seal them back.
  4. Repair a cracked water bottle. Dry the surface of the bottle before you try to tape your patch in place, because most forms of duct tape will not stick to wet surfaces.
  5. Insulate your shoes. Use shiny duct tape to tape the insoles of your shoes, silver side up. The shiny tape will reflect the warmth of your feed back into your shoes.
  6. Hang perimeter lights. String glow sticks around your camp with a long strip of duct tape, or cut strips of tape hang the sticks from tree branches.
  7. Patch your sleeping bag. All that warm insulation in your sleeping bag will quickly become useless if it’s scattered all over the floor. Patch the hole with duct tape.
  8. Fix a broken window. Before removing broken window glass, crisscross the broken pane with duct tape to hold it all together. This will help ensure shards won’t fall and cut you.
  9. Create a shelter. Grab some trash bags, duct tape, and cardboard. Use these items to create a shelter from wind and rain. Be creative. There are all kinds of possibilities.


  1. says

    I’m a big believer in using duct tape for all kinds of emergency repairs, so thanks for listing these different uses for it! I had a broken window a few days ago and was luckily able to call someone in to repair it the same day. However, it’s good to know that I can use duct tape to hold the glass together and prevent it from cutting me as I work on it. I’ll keep this in mind in the future!

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