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For those who are prepping for tougher times, there are certain items whose number of uses is almost limitless. Duct tape comes to mind, as does paracord, but another item that certainly deserves consideration for one of the most useful things you can have is plastic sheeting.
From collecting rainwater to making a shelter, there’s no end to the number of things you can do with plastic sheeting (also known as visqueen). Listed below are just a few of the disaster scenario applications that plastic sheeting is perfect for:
1. Waterproofing Firewood
Firewood doesn’t burn very well if it’s sopping wet. In conditions where building a fire may already be difficult, the last thing you want to deal with is wet firewood. Fortunately, wrapping your firewood supply in plastic sheeting is a great way to keep it bone dry no matter how hard the rain comes down. Plastic sheeting can also be used to keep your matches, clothing, and anything else you might need to shield from the elements completely dry.
2. Collecting Rainwater
Though it might ruin your firewood, rain can be good for some things, too. Namely, providing you with fresh drinking water. You just need a way to collect it, and making a catchment area out of plastic sheeting that drains down into your container is a good way to start.
3. Making a Shelter
Hopefully, you’ll be able to put together a better shelter than one made out of plastic sheeting, but if push comes to shove a plastic sheeting tent can keep the wind and rain off of you, at least until you can make plans for slightly more adequate living conditions.
4. Building a Solar Still
If you’re in a desert area (or anywhere else at a point in time when rain isn’t in the forecast) collecting rainwater to drink may not be an option. In situations such as these, building a solar still could save your life. Solar stills work by heating up the soil until the water in it evaporates then capturing that water. To build one, all you need to do is dig a wide hole in the ground, secure a container at its center, line the hole with plastic sheeting, and secure the edge of the sheeting around the hole’s perimeter with large rocks, then place a fist-sized rock at the center of the sheeting directly above your container. Wait a few hours and you’ll have a supply of fresh, sterile drinking water.
5. Covering the Ground
Whether you are needing a clean place to skin an animal or just want to avoid sleeping on the dirt, plastic sheeting is great for covering an area of ground in a clean, sterile surface.
6. Patching Leaks and Broken Windows
You can repair a lot of damage with some plastic sheeting and a roll of duct tape. From patching leaks in your roof to covering a broken window on your vehicle, plastic sheeting is the perfect material for makeshift repairs. It may not look the best once you’re finished, but it’ll get the job done.
7. Creating a Quarantine Room
In the event of a pandemic, you may need to create a quarantine room to keep from exposing yourself and loved ones to the disease. This is especially important if you decide to take in someone who may or may not be contagious. Lining a room with plastic sheeting allows you to create a quarantine room where people can be kept until the disease runs its course or until it is proven that they are not infected.
8. Building a Greenhouse
The ability to grow plants year-round could prove invaluable during a disaster scenario. To do this in most climates, though, you will need to build a greenhouse. While there are expensive greenhouse kits you could purchase ahead of time, a wooden structure covered with transparent plastic sheeting will work nicely in a pinch, allowing you to grow food all year.
9. Putting up Blackout Curtains
If the power is out in your neighborhood, the last thing you want to do at night is broadcast to the world that your home has power (desperate people would jump at the opportunity to steal your generator). To keep the light from shining through your windows, you will want to make blackout curtains, and black plastic sheeting is the perfect material to use. A little bit of thick black plastic sheeting and a few nails will allow you to keep the power on at night and still keep a low profile.
10. Protecting Your Plants from Frost
A late frost can be devastating to your plant’s survival and, if you are relying on them as a food source, your own survival as well. Plastic sheeting, however, can be combined with old blankets to ensure your plants stay protected from the elements. The night before an expected frost, just cover your plants with a blanket and then cover the blanket with plastic sheeting. You want to be sure and put the blanket down first, though, as covering your plants with the plastic directly could damage them. And also be sure it’s not a very heavy blanket. You may even want to use stakes to keep some of the weight of the blanket off of your plants.
11. Waterproofing Containers
If you have a large container such as a barrel or small swimming pool that has sprung a leak, you can easily waterproof it again by lining it with plastic sheeting. This container can then be used to collect and store rainwater, used as a place to keep live fish, used to bathe in, or used in any other number of ways.
12. Trapping Heat
During the winter, heating your home may prove to be a constant challenge. In order to keep your home as warm as possible, you will want to limit the amount of space that has to be heated and close off any unused areas. To do this, cover the entrances to unused areas with plastic sheeting and cut them off from the source of your heat. In addition to this, plastic sheeting can be used to block drafts coming in from doors and windows to keep your home a little warmer. Overall, plastic sheeting isn’t the best insulator, but it does block airflow pretty well, making it a convenient way to better control the climate in your house.
13. Body Bags
Okay, so this last one is pretty grim, but in a worst case scenario, there are going to be a lot of dead bodies out there. To avoid the smell and prevent the spread of disease, you can wrap them up in plastic sheeting.
What Types to Get
Plastic sheeting can be clear or black, and thick (about 6 mil) or thin (about 3-4 mil). I recommend purchasing several types of plastic sheeting so you’ll have what you need for a variety of situations.
For example, thin clear plastic sheeting would be good building a solar still, but thick clear plastic sheeting would be better for covering windows. And thin black plastic sheeting would be great for waterproofing containers while simultaneously keeping them hidden, but thick black plastic sheeting would be best for patching a leaky roof. Consider your potential needs and prepare accordingly.