20 Emergency Uses for Duct Tape

Duct+TapeWhen it comes to multipurpose items to have on hand in case of emergencies, it’s hard to imagine anything that tops duct tape.

In the hierarchy of survival necessities, duct tape has to fall behind only food, water, and (maybe) firearms.

You may think I’m being facetious –and maybe I am just a little bit — but duct tape really does constitute one of the most versatile items you can have in your bug-out bag, in your vehicle, and in your emergency storage cache.

Here are 20 emergency uses for duct tape (and by no means is this an exhaustive list):

  • Repairing a leaky cup or water bottleDuct tape can make a useless leaky vessel whole again. Just make sure the surfaces are dry before you apply your tape.
  • Replacement wallet Whether you’re carrying cash or coins, you can devise a pretty handy wallet for them with a little duct tape and ingenuity.
  • Devise a makeshift butterfly bandage Cut two small strips of duct tape, and then add a smaller strip across the center of the strips (sticky side to sticky side) to create a butterfly bandage that pulls opposite sides together.
  • Make a short cord or rope – Twist a few lengths of duct tape together to make a strong cord that you can use to secure items to your backpack, bundle items, etc.
  • Patch a hole in pipe or plumbing – This may not work for systems with a lot of water pressure, but I’ve seen this done so successfully that other long-term repairs were almost unnecessary.
  • Fashion a belt – When food is scarce, your pants may not fit as well as the apocalyptic weight-loss plan begins to work. By overlapping several lengths of tape, you can make a sturdy belt that fastens by overlapping the tape by a few inches for a buckle.
  • Makeshift sling – Fold a length of duct tape lengthwise, sticky sides in, so that the tape is half its original width. Use the strap to make a sling for a busted arm.
  • Make labels – Write on your tape with a marker to label bins, mark expiration dates, or even leave messages.
  • Handcuffs alternative If you need to subdue someone during a crisis situation, to keep them from being a danger to themselves or others or yourself, duct tape their hands together. We’ve seen it in the movies a million times.
  • Repair you shoes – A lot of sneakers and boots have been repaired with less. I’ve seen duct tape repairs last for at least an entire week of hiking.
  • Shelter construction – If you need to improvise a temporary shelter in a pinch, duct tape can be a lifesaver. Use it to bind timbers and hold plastic sheeting in place.
  • Affix bandages – I’ve seen actual duct tape bandages before, but that’s not what I’m referring to here. You can use duct tape to hole a piece of sterile dressing in place over a wound. It’ll stay in place and then some.
  • Fix your tarps/rain gear – Keep the dry stuff dry, and keep the water out, by mending your ripped rain gear with a few strips.
  • Make a drinking cup – You’ll have to get creative, but you can fashion a cup out of duct tape with a little effort. It may not be great, but it’ll do… and it’s very packable.
  • Blister care – The problem with blisters is that they form in areas where there’s lots of friction. Band-Aids typically don’t stay in place well. Duct tape, on the other hand, will stay in place. Just don’t let it touch the actual blister.
  • Mark your trail – This one’s pretty simple, but incredibly important. Marking trails is a great navigation habit. Traditional duct tape may not stick out, but it’s vastly better that nothing at all.
  • Bug-out vehicle repairs – Leaking hoses, water lines, etc. can be temporarily patched with duct tape, at least well enough to get you to your destination.
  • Patch a hole in your sleeping bag/pillow. – One hole can pretty much spell the end for a down sleeping bag; that down leaks out like water. Patch that sucker with duct tape and it’s good as new.
  • Keep your doors/windows/tents closed. – When doors, tent flaps, or windows aren’t staying closed properly, or you need additional coverage (such as in a fallout situation) duct tape is your friend.
  • Splint a broken tent pole, leg, or fishing pole – By using duct tape to create a splint, you can fix all kinds of broken objects that need to support weight or provide tension.

What did I miss? What’s your favorite alternative use for duct tape?

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Remember the scene in “The Condemned” with Steve Austin where he’s making a fast exit out of a communications tower? Instead of taking the time to search the radio operator for anything of use, he grabs a roll of duct tape off a table & bails. He later uses the tape to fashion impromptu arm guards out of the tape & rebar. Good call . . .

Forgot one. I’ve also used it to close a rather deep cut until I could get to superglue. Just like stitches, I tore laterally into roughly 1/4″ strips and straddled the cut with them. It held just fine, but still permitted drainage and air flow.

I use it most often for the removal of small thorns, slivers and other things that get stuck in my skin but aren’t readily visible. Just a small strip across, rubbed tightly onto the offend area and then quickly removed will take most things out of my hide. Sometimes I have to try a few times to get the right removal angle.

I found a dark red masonry tape that is similar to duct tape. Now you have red, silver , gray and with blue painters tape you have 4 colors.

Bill Frenette says:

I used Duct Tape around my sun roof when it broke and would not close. I’ve used it in a lot of applications , thanks for the reminder Ground Pounder Bill Frenette—-F B

Dawn Ivey says:

Attach fishing line to poles or stick.

JGH Boyes says:

This may seem to counter this thread. But could prove, as useful when you need to remove ALL TRACES of your use of duct tape. Either spray on WD 40 OR swap down with vodka (or other near pure alcohol), as this will remove & clean off any tape adhesive residue which may prove dangerous. Also spare some thought for foil tape, as used in HVAC duct sealing in sensistive locations (hospital operating theatres, commercial kitchens) where ordinary duct tape would be prohibited. What uses can foil tape be put to? Mark the mud flaps with a small strip to either use friend of foe identity, stuck to sign posts (in all innocence) for “safe bug out route marking”, akin to the TACAMARS which some folks may have heard of. But NOT on signage, as such. But sign mounting posts, mail box posts indicating a turn ahead, gate posts (denoting hostile area beyond). Remember, the foil tape, can be used as “cats eyes” signals at night, when your family & group may have to “lie up” for some hours, whilst awaiting friendly transport or guide to show you safe zones ahead. Spies have used cats eyes signals for decades! Basically you mount 2 foil tape tabs onto a dark sillouette (sic) shape of a large domestic feline (Tom cat), anyone UNAWARE of such signals, innocently drives or walks by uninterested believing it IS a cat.

But IF your short of tinder/kindling to fire start, then duct tape CAN be used (but gives off a slight burning plastic odour). Do not forget that you should consider both wider & narrower widths of duct tape for a variety of uses.

It’s a great medium to strengthen stiff paper to create a bookmark or to make a water resistant folder or to fix the cover of an old, beaten and worn book.
I hate to wrap it sloppily, but besides looking bad I think it’s more effective, less wasteful and stronger to put it on neatly and rub in onto the surface or to tightly wrap rounded surfaces such as a dowel or handle. Once it’s on, it takes a real beating to get it off. Many people have used it where glue, clamps, screws, nuts and bolts where unavailable or welding was impossible.

arrow fletching and also a quiver can be fashioned from duct tapr and also secure arrow heads to a makeshift shaft

Helen Allen says:

I drive a 2012 Nisson Versa, I recently hit a parked car, and I was only going 5mph. The only damage to the other car was a scratch to the paint on their rear bumper. My right front fender was damaged, which is going to cost $2,400 to repair. Thankfully there was no damage to my headlight. I was afraid the bulb would fall out, so I tapped the bulb to the hood with strips of duct tape. It’s still holding that bulb so it won’t fall out. Hopefully I can get the $1,000 needed for my deductible, In the meantime, people look at my fender and shake their head when they see that strip of duct tape holding my head light.