OFF THE RECORD: Duct tape could save America

"Duck and cover!"

That was the battle cry we heard during the Cold War of the 1950s. I recall kids (including me) pleading with their parents to make bomb shelters in their basements. Well, my dad didn't heed the call, and fortunately we didn't need it.

But half a century later, we're in a big fat mess all over again, thanks to boys who are too big for their britches and think the only way to resolve anything is by starting a war. Bush's Big Fat Stupid War.

"Duct tape and cover!"

That's the warning cry of 2003. And for whatever reason, normally sane adults have somehow slipped into silliness and think that by un-hermetically sealing all the windows and doors of their homes, they're going to keep the enemy at bay. They'd probably have better results shooting up Botox during their lunch hour and downing a stiff martini before dinner. At least the latter two would remove the permanent frown of war from their faces.

But the biggest winners in this major panic attack are the duct tape and plastic suppliers who are making a bundle, along with the distributors of gas masks, military and anti-terrorist garb and paraphernalia. Even the fashion industry is affected.

At (a Web site that sells a variety of items made out of duct tape, from wallets and purses to woven bracelets and backpacks), a message reads: "Terror alert! The terror alert has put a run on duct tape in some areas. We lowered our prices to help meet this urgent demand. The catch is you can't pick the color, we'll send you the most available 12 colors we stock."

And for a real hoot go to the very funny Web site

It's designed by Henkel KGaA, the German company that produces the popular Duck Tape. There you'll read about the Fourth Annual DuckTape Ball in Anchorage, Alaska, and real life stories by people who use duct tape (including survival tales).

In fact, they're having a contest for high school promgoers this spring. Here's the deal: you and your date attend your prom wearing duct tape (it comes in 17 colors). Then send in a photo for a chance to win cash prizes totaling $4,000. The contest begins March 3 and ends June 20.

Check their Web site for photos of last year's winners and more details on the contest. And think of the money you'll save on that tux and dress!

But back to the preparedness stuff. Outside of the fact that I'm not planning to Seal-A-Meal my house, am I ready?

Well, not in the beverage department. I have two 16-oz. bottles of Crystal Geyser water, a bottle of Argyle Brut Champagne and a jug of unopened prune juice in the fridge. I definitely need to bump up the H2O supply and lay in a case or two of red wine.

As far as food, I think we're OK -- don't rice and pasta last forever?

I know we have a first aid kit somewhere, probably stashed in the backpacking equipment in the garage. And there is a Walkman and a transistor radio lurking around the house somewhere, along with a Costco megapack of AA batteries. Our portable CD players are both in working order so we can listen to our separate tunes when all hell breaks loose.

Oh, one last thing. I'm sending Dubya a little something: a custom designed straightjacket fashioned out of camouflage-colored duct tape.

Who says you shouldn't look dapper when you're conducting a war?

BUT SERIOUSLY, FOLKS: Probably the best preparedness advice comes from the American Red Cross (

They list Three Simple Steps to Preparedness along with how to implement them:

  • Build a disaster supplies kit

  • Make a disaster plan

  • Get first aid and CPR training

The Red Cross also includes preparedness steps for Orange Alert, including guidelines to help individuals prepare for every level of the Homeland Security Advisory System.

But like the bomb shelters of the '50s, let's just hope we don't have to use them -- ever.

Sue Frause can be reached by e-mail at

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