Sunday, December 13, 2015

Duct Tape 102 - How to Save Your Heroine: Information for Writers

found publicly on Facebook
Welcome back to 
If you haven't read it yet, go to this LINK to find out how duct tape doesn't work the way you've seen it on TV and in the movies.

By the way, DUCK TAPE is a brand; DUCT TAPE is the kind of tape.

This article looks at duct tape as a survival tool. Developed in WWII, duct tape has amazing tensile strength. It takes 67.3 pounds of force to break a single strand of the stuff!

Duct tape is water resistant but is not water proof.

THERE ARE FOUR THINGS YOUR HEROINE NEEDS TO SURVIVE - and I'll add signalling to the list.

  2. FIRE
  4. FOOD
  5. WATER

SIGNALLING (colored tape) 

  • Signal flags - three flapping or laid out in on the ground is the international distress signal. Remember if your heroine sees or hears a group of three she should tell the authorities and if she feels comfortable doing so check out the situation. Something we should all know in life outside of books, too.
  • Trail blazing

Duct tape tinder - while difficult to light, once it is lit it burns for a while because of the fibers that are in the tape. 
This puts off a good amount of heat. Your heroine could make a ball of the stuff attached to a stick and use it for a torch while walking.

  • While it burns, it drips. Maybe this is better for an urban power outage situation where your heroine will be over pavement. In the woods, especially when it's dry, your heroine might be making everything worse. Now she's no longer looking for her lost keys; she's running for her life from the forest fire she just lit!
  • Once it's lit, it burns. (remember a fire needs three things: heat, air, fuel to burn. Remove one of those and the fire goes out. For example, put this in a bucket of water or a flameproof sealed container.)


I'm going to use CORDAGE for the shelter and food section.
Duct tape string - make this by twisting the tape, then give it a squeeze. If you have three you can braid them together.

Video Quick Study - making cordage  (4:59) He also uses this on a bow drill to start a fire - BONUS!
  • Binding sticks to make a shelter. 
  • If your heroine has duct tape o'plenty then she could even make a hammock to get herself up off the ground.
  • Climbing
  • Clothesline
    Found publicly on Facebook
  • Food traps (land and water)
  • Bootlaces
  • Rifle sling
  • Bear bag rope (to get your food up on a tree limb so you get to eat it not the critters do not.)
  • Shelter tie downs
  • Tying things to the roof (as cordage or just taping it to the roof) EMERGENCY USE ONLY

Also for protection and food procurement: Duct tape a knife to a stick (not optimal - especially if you are stabbing into a person or animal who might take off with your knife if it gets caught in their wound)

  • Form containers (for water collection etc.)
    • Remember in an emergency situation, your heroine CANNOT drink salt water, her urine, or stagnant water - she'll end up losing more water than she gains (for various reasons depending on the liquid source).
    • You can make a solar still to make the water potable (see last video in article to see this in action)
Video Quick Study (12:01)


  • Make shift sling
    Found publicly on Facebook
  • Bandaging (try to put a dressing--a clean cloth of some kind--down first.
  • Steri-strips to pull a wound together
  • Prevent blisters on hands or feet
  • Tape broken fingers or toes together (also called taping in parallel and sometimes as buddy taping)
  • Wrap a sprain like you would using an ace bandage
  • Affix a splint to a limb
  • Remove needles - such as from a cactus
  • Tourniquet - if push really does come to shove 

REPAIRS (a short list - but use your imagination)

  • tent
  • screen
  • clothing
  • reattach a sole to a boot (at least for a while)
  • patch for water bottle
  • improvised pipe repair 
  • tube repair (in a car for example)

Make Useful Things

Uhm, no. Just no.

Found publicly on Facebook

But how about - 
  • Make a sit-upon (for all you Girl Scouts) Video Quick Study (3:32) Simply replace folded newspaper strips for doubled over pieces of duct tape. OR after you've woven your sit upon with newspaper, cover with the duct tape.
  • emergency belt
  • hat to prevent exposure
  • and if things are really bad - shoes

Many of these are demonstrated in this video quick study (11:04)

AND HERE YOU GO THE BEAT ALL END ALL - MYTH BUSTERS - try to stay alive with only duct tape - see what works and what does not. Their foibles could be your next great plot twist!

And if your heroine's life is truly on the line even (but you have a ton of duct tape) - A BOAT!

How can your heroine show her cunning and save the day with a roll of duct tape?

As always, a big thank you ThrillWriters and readers for stopping by. Thank you, too, for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

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