The main purpose of all types of barrier tape is to alert people that a particular area is not open for access. In some cases, the tape is used to preserve some aspect of the enclosed area. At other times, the main function is to prevent people from exposing themselves to a hazard of some kind.
Perhaps the most common types of barrier tape that most people encounter is construction tape. Barrier tape of this kind is used to mark off an area where construction is taking place. The tape is usually placed so that people know to stay a safe distance away from the construction. Along with new building sites, this type of tape may be used around buildings scheduled for demolition, or structures that are undergoing repairs.
Similar to construction tape, hazard tape is also a relatively common site. This type of barrier tape is often employed by utility companies when engaged in repairs or some type of work in a given location. Power companies often use brightly colored tape of this kind to warn people away from a power line that is down. Road crews may use the tape to temporarily close a street while facing or making other repairs to the road surface. Water companies may use the tape when it is necessary to dig into the ground in order to access and repair a damaged section of pipe. Since all these situations are potentially dangerous, using the tape serves as a quick and easy way to let people know to steer clear of the area.
Law enforcement agencies use a type of barrier tape known as crime scene tape. The tape is often used to block entry to an area where a crime has been committed. Doing so helps to prevent what could be crucial evidence from being accidentally contaminated or destroyed, thus increasing the chances of identifying and arresting the perpetrator of the crime. In most jurisdictions, crossing crime scene or police tape without proper authorization is often punishable by anything from a fine to being arrested.
Firefighter tape serves much the same purpose as hazard tape. With this kind of barrier tape, the idea is to keep people from getting too close to an area where a fire is currently in progress. There are two ways that the tape is useful. First, it minimizes the chances of bystanders from being injured by debris or smoke inhalation. Second, it helps to maintain a clean entry and exit from the area that can be used for rescue vehicles and to bring in additional firefighting equipment if necessary.
Barricade tape is often used along parade routes. The tape helps to cordon off the parade path, serving as a warning for drivers to not attempt to use those streets until after the parade is concluded. Barrier tape of this type is usually brightly colored, making it easy for people to see the tape long before arriving at an intersection that is temporarily inaccessible.
In many cases, barrier tape can be reused. Most tapes are made from durable synthetic materials and can be rolled up for use at a later date. One recent innovation in barrier tape products is known as the rewind wheel. Essentially, the device retracts any dispensed section of tape with the touch of a button, functioning in a manner that is very similar to a retractable tape measure.