When duct tape won’t work

Meme of MaGyver with text What do you mean duct tape won't work

With duct tape I feel like I can do all the cool tricks that MacGyver did. So, I thought it would be fun to try out one of the emergency duct tape projects I found on the internet – a stretcher made from duct tape. Here’s the inspiration. Awesome, right?

I will tell you upfront that putting it together was not that awesome. But, because at some point most of us may have to move someone (who can’t on their own) to safety in an emergency I thought there would be value in sharing our lessons with this project. Also, you still might want to try to make one for yourself.

What we did: I recruited Nancy from our office to help since she is always up to try something new. We took a couple of broomsticks and a roll of heavy duty duct tape. We double taped the poles with long strips from the roll. At first it was easy -double strip across the top to make sure it’s strong and then crisscross the tape down the two poles. But, we had to start over more than once because you need a buddy to hold the poles straight (I was holding the camera) and heavy tape is hard to manage with one pair of hands.

Photo of OEM staff putting together a stretcher with duct tape and broomsticks

Nancy attempting duct tape stretcher construction

Our result: Sadly this project was a fail for us. After having to start over five times we abandoned the mission.

Photo of duct tape and broomsticks for stretcher project

Duct tape stretcher project abandoned

What we will do next time: Skip the duct tape and use a blanket. Blankets are ready to use and don’t take special storage. Also, the city of Seattle offers free search and rescue classes where you can learn how to safely move a person using what you have on hand at home or at the office. Check out available classes online.

Students in class learning to move a person with a blanket

Community members learn blanket drag in West Seattle search and rescue class

Final thoughts: We still think the duct tape stretcher is a great project. It could work in a disaster situation as long as you use the right size poles for the weight you have to carry, use good engineering and have the time (and a helpful friend) to put this together. If you do make one do it before you need it and test it before you use it.

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