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Basic Emergency Item: The Tarp

Updated on March 28, 2013

The Tarp, A Must Have Item For Preppers

The tarp should be a key component for any home’s emergency preparedness gear, but you don’t have to wait for the apocalypse to break it out. The tarp is just as handy for those every day disasters that are more annoying than threatening. Having two or three tarps of different sizes can come in handy for a surprising number of uses.

Tarps as Cover

A baseball hit through a large picture window is not the end of the world, but what are you going to do until you can replace the window, especially if looks like rain coming on? A tarp is a quick fix to keep the weather out until you get the window fixed.

Windows are prone to damage from wind storms, falling tree limbs and errant foul balls. If your home has some large picture windows, you should have a tarp that is at least large enough to cover it, and roll of plastic for the smaller windows in case they’re ever damaged. You’ll find plenty of uses for both even if your windows do remain intact.

A tarp is always useful if you need to cover gear, patio furniture, the carpet in a room you’re painting, firewood or anything else you need to protect from the weather, sloppy painters or low flying birds.

Uses in Camping

A small tarp is useful as ground cover beneath a tent. A larger tarp when its four corners are tied to strategically placed trees is even more useful as a wind break or a rain cover, allowing you to stay outside the tent rather than be forced in by inclement weather. Two tarps could be even better as a rain cover provided you don’t tie the tarps together. Tarps tied together by their corner grommets could put too much stress on the edges from the weight of rain water on each tarp. A better arrangement is to tie the tarps separately to trees, but have them overlap to give you dependable protection. Placing poles as added support will give you more head room, but you still want to tie the tarps to the trees in case the poles should fall.

Tarps as Emergency Shelter

We’ve all seen the major damage and mass population displacement caused by severe weather. The loss of your home during a tornado, hurricane or large wild fire, or government ordered evacuation ahead of the storms will have everyone scrambling for shelter. You can be a step ahead if you can take your makeshift shelter with you. If you have two or three tarps, take them all, even if you have tents. You could end up spending days in very uncomfortable and threatening conditions. Tarps can provide shelter from the weather after the storm passes but rains persist, and protect valuables you packed hurriedly and placed in a trailer or the back of a pickup during an evacuation. When you do return home, you can use the tarps to protect a damaged home or the gather the items you left behind.

Tarps in All Sizes

Tarps come in many sizes and different materials, but the polyethylene blue tarps have become a standard tarp for every day and emergency use. They’re durable, tear resistant, waterproof and light. B&G Discount in Schoolcraft, MI, has tarps in more than 100 sizes, from 5’ x 7’ to 40’ x 60’. You’ll find these tarps incredibly useful around your home, and essential if disaster ever forces you to leave it.


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