Poly Tarp Uses in Emergency Situations: Disaster Preparedness

Per the NOAA, 2023 saw 28 confirmed weather and climate disasters with total losses of well over $1 billion each. This included major floods, severe storms, wildfires, winter storms, and even two tropical cyclones. Storms keep coming, and it’s important to be prepared for disaster. Poly tarps are a must-have item for disaster preparedness.

So far, January has triggered catastrophic damage in many areas. New England’s coastline saw record-high tides that flooded coastal towns and cities, while knocking down historic buildings, damaging homes and businesses, and altering the coastline’s dunes and sandbars. Many other states experienced heavy winds, plummeting temperatures, massive snow storms, and plenty of ice and rain. Find out how a poly tarp helps with weather and other unexpected emergencies.

What Is a Poly Tarp?

Most people recognize one type of poly tarp. The classic, thinner blue tarp you find at discount stores and retailers is a type of poly tarp. It’s not the only one, and some are thicker than others. 

A poly tarp is made from tightly woven strands of polyethylene fabric and coated with UV protectants. Some options add a polyethylene coating to make it more durable. A thicker tarp is going to be far more durable in heavy winds and under snow and ice. 

What you want is a tarp that’s thick enough for your needs. If you’re using your yard to dry items after a flood, a lightweight blue tarp is a fantastic choice. If you’re creating a covering over your roof after shingles blow off, a lightweight tarp isn’t enough. Here are the poly tarps available at Chicago Canvas.

Blue Poly Tarps: 

  • 3 ounces per square yard
  • 4 mils thick with a UV protectant
  • Grommets spacing every 3 feet
  • Sizes ranging from 5 x 7 to 100 x 100 feet

Brown/Green Heavy-Duty Poly Tarps: 

  • 3 ounces per square yard
  • 4 mils thick with a UV protectant
  • Grommet spacing every 3 feet
  • Sizes from 12 x 20 to 40 x 60 feet

Camouflage Poly Tarps:

  • Sizes from 6 x 8 to 16 x 20 feet
  • Camouflage colors that blend into the surroundings

Green/Silver Heavy-Duty Poly Tarps:

  • 6 ounces per square yard
  • 8 mils thick with a UV protectant
  • Grommet spacing 18 inches apart
  • Sizes from 8 x 10 to 30 x 50 feet

Silver UVR Heavy-Duty Poly Tarps:

  • 6 ounces per square yard
  • 12 mils thick with a UV protectant and double-laminated coating
  • Grommet spacing 18 inches apart
  • Sizes from 8 x 10 to 30 x 50 feet

White Heavy-Duty Poly Tarps

  • 6 ounces per square yard
  • 8 mils thick with a UV protectant
  • Grommet spacing 18 inches apart
  • Sizes from 10 x 20 to 40 x 60 feet

How Can a Tarp Help in a Disaster?

When a storm, fire, or other disastrous event happens, how does a tarp help? They are an incredibly useful item in many ways.

Temporary Shelter

If flood waters rise, you might not have the means or time to get to a hotel or shelter. If you have higher ground, you can set up a temporary shelter on that hill or slope and protect yourself for the night by using at least one tarp as a temporary shelter. A tarp can be used to cover the tent and serve as a waterproof canopy to provide shelter when you’re outside of the tent, too.

Protection of Items That Have to Go Outside

As flood waters rise, anything on a lower level, garage, or basement can quickly get soaked. If you have items you need to get to a higher place, a tarp can keep them covered from rain or snow until the weather improves and the home is safe to move back into.

Makeshift Roof Covers

High winds blew off shingles and your roof is now leaking. A tree branch may have fallen and smashed a section of the roof and walls. As much as you want to have this issue fixed ASAP, you have to wait for an insurance assessment of damage, the money you need to pay for the work that’s needed, or a roofing contractor to have space available in a busy schedule. 

You can’t keep letting rain and melting snow leak into your home and destroy your walls and ceilings. Install a heavy-duty tarp to cover your entire roof and protect it from additional water until you can have your roof repaired.

Protective Cover for Broken Windows

If a tree topples and comes through a window, an item outside gets lifted by the wind and smashes a window, or something hits your door and bends it so it no longer seals correctly. Until someone can replace it, you need to keep water and cold air from entering your home. A heavy-duty tarp is a great option for a temporary cover. This buys time on getting the right replacement door or window and having it installed.

Easier Yard Clean-Up

When storms or inclement weather cause trees to fall or wash rocks, silt, sand, and mud into your yard, the clean-up takes a lot of time. As you cut up branches and trunks, you can store the firewood on blue tarps to dry out. If you have a wood stove or fireplace, use a tarp to protect the wood you cut up for future use. 

As floodwater silt, sand, and mud can be contaminated with raw sewage, you don’t want to leave it there. Shovel it onto blue tarps and arrange to have it hauled away. 

Collect Rainwater

While power is out, anyone on a well is unable to get water through a well pump. Access to water during an extended outage becomes a problem, but you can use a tarp to collect rainwater to boil on an outdoor grill or gas stove. 

Signal for Help

In the worst disaster, a brightly colored tarp can help you signal for help. Secure it to a tree or lay it on the ground near your home. When you hear helicopters or search planes, stand on that tarp and wave your arms to get attention.

If that’s not possible, waving the tarp from a window or roofline is another option. You could even use reflective white spray paint and a brightly colored tarp and have the “HELP” message visible for anyone overhead to see.

The bright white, blue, or silver tarps at Chicago Canvas are very visible and work well for signaling for help. We offer many other tarps in a variety of sizes to suit your emergency preparedness needs. Order the size you need online or reach us by phone or email and let us know what you need if you’re not seeing the perfect size in the online store.