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Why Plastic Sheeting Should be Included in Your Disaster Preparedness Kit

2017’s storms, fires, and earthquakes have taught us that disasters may affect anyone at any time. Moreover, the period after a disaster strikes can also be deadly. With that singular thought, what simple materials will help you and your family get through a post-disaster period?

While FEMA provides a good starter list to help with disaster preparedness, we suggest you add plastic sheeting to your provisions. Good plastic sheeting can provide you a waterproof shelter, a needed protective barrier, and containment material that could help you survive after a disaster. Plus, plastic sheeting is affordable and easy to store.

Plastic Sheeting for Disaster Preparedness

The safest location to be during a disaster will vary, so it is important to tap into Wireless Emergency Alerts made available through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. If alert systems tell you to shelter in place, stay where you are, whether it’s at school, work, or home.

1. Plastic Sheeting for Preserving Air Quality

If there is air contamination, your best chance for survival is to remain indoors. You can preserve air quality by:

  • Choosing a room with the fewest windows and outside doors, and with a water source. Interior bathrooms are ideal.
  • Turning off air conditioners, heaters, and fans. Close the fireplace damper or any other conduit for outside air.
  • Creating a barrier by sealing doors, vents, electrical outlets, and windows with plastic sheeting and duct tape.
  • Keep water in sink, tub, and toilet drain traps. If it is necessary to drink water, drink stored water, not water from the tap.

The Department of Homeland Security recommends using plastic sheeting with a thickness of 4 to 6 mil or greater. Americover’s reinforced 6 mil poly, available in clear, fire retardant, or black/white, is ideal for situations where you need to preserve air quality.

2. Plastic Sheeting for Protecting Electrical Equipment

Prior to a storm, businesses and homeowners can cover electrical equipment with plastic sheeting.

  • Use plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal electronics, as well as files, documents, and photos.
  • Move sealed items away from windows.
  • Place sealed items high on sturdy shelves or on an upper floor in cases of possible flooding.

3. Plastic Sheeting to Mitigate Mudslides

If you live on or near a hillside, you may need to redirect a major water flow. Plastic sheeting can be used on hillsides to prevent mudslides caused by ground saturation.

  • Attach poly sheeting to the hill with sand bags, stakes, or spikes to redirect the flow of water to a designated area.
  • Mitigate potential slide areas ahead of major storms with wall barrier products.
  • Muscle Wall is a wall barrier that can be used with plastic sheeting to create a water containment during flooding.

4. Dry Floodproofing with Plastic Sheeting

Dry floodproofing is a preventative measure that makes a structure more watertight and helps prevent floodwaters from entering. Dry floodproofing utilizes waterproof coatings, impermeable membranes, and/or extra layers of sealed masonry or concrete.

In the event of an approaching storm, you can dry floodproof by wrapping the exterior wall of a structure with plastic sheeting as a temporary barrier. While plastic sheeting itself won’t prevent water from entering the structure, it can reduce the amount that does. See FEMA’s “Dry Floodproofing Measures”.

Plastic Sheeting for Disaster Recovery

5. Plastic Sheeting for Shelter

Shelter is a major concern after natural disasters, because depending on the disaster severity, there may not be enough resources to house everyone or to get to those who need shelter. Plastic sheeting is an economical way to shelter in place or build a temporary rain-proof structure. It can be nailed or stapled to wooden frames to create temporary roofing, walls, or a reinforced barrier around current housing.

6. Plastic Sheeting for Collection and Containment

It is essential to collect and contain contaminated materials after a natural disaster. Plastic sheeting can be used to build a containment to prevent chemicals from infiltrating or dispersing into areas that are not contaminated.

Oil, for example, can be collected and disposed of with plastic sheeting. It is best to use a heavy-duty geomembrane for oil removal, such as Enviro Liner® or a Geo-Shield High Density Polyethylene (HDPE).

7. Plastic Sheeting to Cover Storage or Transportation Items

Before and after a disaster, many large items and machinery will need to be covered, protected, and stored. Use plastic sheeting as a cover for storage and during transportation. Plastic is waterproof and flexible, giving you the protection you need and the ability to cover or wrap any shape.

8. Plastic Sheeting to Create Temporary Containment Areas and Barriers

After a natural disaster, emergency workers need to create temporary containment areas and barriers. These can be made with plastic sheeting to separate contaminated areas from clean areas. You can create work spaces with temporary walls to minimize the spread of contaminants during remediation. This is especially helpful when dealing with areas such as senior facilities and hospitals, where people are susceptible to illnesses.

As 2017’s disasters have illustrated, people planning and working together have the best chance of surviving a disaster. Have you thought of something not mentioned? Do you need help deciding what type of plastic sheeting to include in your disaster preparations? Please call us at (760) 747-6095.

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