May 27, 2017

Duct Tape and Plastic?

I think many of us remember post 9-11 when word was put out about duct tape and plastic. We were to use this to seal our homes air tight in case of a biological or chemical event. I was among the many people who scoffed at this idea. That is until recently. I was doing some research on an article about sheltering in place and found the Frequently Asked Questions at Ready.Gov. I read a bit and made the comment to my wife that, “this is one of the occasions when we would bug out.” She said something along the lines of “What if someone can’t? What if their only option is to stay put?”

She hit the nail on the head. While sheltering in place during a chemical event is not my first option (or I am sure yours), what if the need arouse and it was the only option? This will be a quick article and will add another tool to the tool belt that I pray we never need to use.

Feel free to look at the Ready.Gov Frequently Asked Questions as I’ll just be hitting the high points. One possible reason that you would need to shelter in place is due to either an accidental or purposefully released chemical with the plume nearby or heading toward your area. For incidents such as this the DHS recommends having plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal off a room to further limit the airflow from outside and give added protection.
What should you use?

DHS doesn’t have any brand preference, but recommends duct tape that is 10mil thick and plastic sheeting at is 4-6mil thick.
Which Room?

DHS recommends the bathroom as it often only has one door and no windows and gives access to, well the bathroom. Might not be a solid plan for an entire family, so pick a room that has the least amount of access to the outside from doors, windows, fans and vents.
What Should You Do With It?

First turn off the heat or air conditioning. This will further limit the amount of outside air that gets in. DHS recommends having pre-cut sheets of plastic that measure 6” bigger than the area you’re trying to cover. As you can see in this picture, completely cover all doors, windows, fans and vents.

How long can a family stay in a sealed room? Will we run out of air to breathe?

DHS recommends that individuals allow ten square feet of floor space per person in order to provide sufficient air to prevent carbon dioxide build up for up to 5 hours assuming a normal breathing rate while resting.

Many chemical releases would be diluted within a few hours, so the direction to shelter-in-place would likely be made for a short time period while a chemical cloud dissipates.
Final thoughts:

I still don’t think this plan is a great one and I’ll only use it as a last resort, but now I know what to do and have the room picked out should we be forced to use this option.

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  1. Trudee Ray says:

    We need more duct tape….and plastic. 😉

    The Wife

  2. I’ve seen a plan for a basement room with no windows also. Plastic sheeting is prefered, construction grade trash bags could be used in a pinch. It’d be nice to have a bucket (privacy sheet), food and water in that room with you. N95 masks are helpful also if you don’t have any other masks. I’ve started putting all these things into one tote and into that basement room. What I really wonder though is what I’d do when we came out of the room!

  3. The “gasman” speaks:
    Please no open flame, candles when you seal a room! Without fresh air exchange carbon monoxide may be deadlier than the situation at hand. I would also seal the sink and bath tub drain and fill with water to drink………only if they’re clean! Portable radio, flashlight, glow sticks and whatever else you need to make the situation easier.

  4. Nice. Very thought provoking. I cant seem to grasp the idea of leaving my house. Its where everything is. Ammo, garden, stored food, water, well, body armor, stored gasoline ect… So this is a very valid article for me. The master bedroom would be the most logical place for us I guess. One door, one window and a bathroom. I store some food in there as well, and a medical pack. I need to get more plastic though. Thank you for a great website..Kevin

  5. Yes sir Chris, I just read it and it was very good. It makes me think, thats for sure. This may not be the correct place to post this, but I do keep a 3 day pack supplied and ready top go, but the decision would be met with heavy opposition from my wife and daughter (you know, no sink, toilet, make-up, shower ect.). Now, bugging out to a hotel, like you mentioned, is something I never thought of. I guess I have in my mind the situation would be very bad if we needed to leave. So bad that the roads would be packed with traffic jams and paranoia and panic, something we would need to avoid. Wow, you do bring up good points. I guess thats why I like this site so much. Than you again. Kevin.

    • Chris Ray says:

      Whether to stay to go, and if you go, when you go is a tricky spot to be sure. My approach to it is this, in most situation we will stay put, in the situation where we would bug out such as fire, flood, zombie invasion etc. we would try to bug out sooner than the masses. My opinion on the hotels is to use it as a rallying point, not necessarily as the destination, although if there are open rooms you could use it for that.

  6. Don Johnson says:

    To go along with never having enough duct tape I never have enough nails. If you are someday forced to board up a broken window, or build a raised bed garden box for long term food production then a few boxes of different size nails may come in mighty handy. Also a box of drywall screws can be useful, as they double for more than just drywall. Also a small roll of aluminum fence wire can be used to repair a broken handle on your shovel to fixing the exhaust on your car.

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