If you work in the construction or safety sectors, you might have seen the term “caution tape” used to describe a range of barrier messaging, even some that don’t contain the word “caution.” The phrase “caution tape” has become widely used to describe all types of barrier tapes, just as Americans may have developed the practice of calling inline skates of any kind “rollerblades” (or a variety of other hyper-specific misnomers) in the United States.

What are Barricade Tapes?

In actuality, what is frequently mentioned is more appropriately referred to as “barricade tapes” While “barricade tape” generally refers to any polyethylene tape used to build a barricade around a perimeter and promote caution, “caution tape” refers to the yellow polyethylene tape that bears caution messaging.

Although “caution tape” is perhaps the most prevalent barrier tape, it’s not the only variety, so the misunderstanding is pretty natural. Typically, there are two significant types of barrier tape:

  • Caution tape: To create a high contrast “Caution” message that is easy to see and heightens caution, caution tape typically uses black lettering on a yellow polyethylene ribbon. This might contain signs that read “Caution – Do Not Enter” and “Caution – No Parking.” However, other than the diagonal stripes that draw attention, some caution tape uses the stark contrast of black and yellow to draw attention.
  • Danger tape: Instead, danger tape uses a red polyethylene ribbon with black text on top of it. In these situations, the messaging frequently uses the phrase “Danger” and is intended to increase any amount of warning that could be there without the yellow caution tape. While danger tape is used when there is a more severe risk of hazard, caution tape is likely used where there is some risk. In place of “Caution – Do Not Enter,” red tape might read “Danger – Do Not Enter.”
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The most typical uses for polyethylene barricade caution tapes are as described above. A lot of exceptions do exist, though. Some additional typical barricade tapes include the following:

  • Yellow crime scene and police tape: yellow tape is sometimes used for fencing off crime scene perimeters, but the message is clear. A tape with the words “Crime Scene – Do Not Cross” or “Police Line – Do Not Cross” could be used by the police to mark the perimeter. This makes it evident that although the police may enter and exit the boundary, pedestrians and bystanders should stay away.
  • Underground tape: It is not always necessary for gas lines or other underground hazards to be visible from the surface, but they must occasionally be marked with tape in case of excavation. “Non-detectable underground tape” is the name given to these tapes. Similar to barricade tape, they are frequently made of polyethylene, but they can be any color, which might attract an excavator’s attention. “Gas Line Below” illustrates the messaging of this kind of tape.

What is Polyethylene?

You might have noticed that most of these cassettes have been labeled as “polyethylene,” but what exactly is polyethylene?

A specific type of plastic with excellent flexibility and impact strength is polyethylene. It can stretch or twist without breaking, unlike other more rigid plastics, and it can change shape when it is hit. Similar to barricade tape, it is frequently used for industrial materials.

Other Barricade Options

Even though polyethylene barricade tapes are helpful, many safety and crowd control situations call for more substantial obstruction. Even though barricade tape can make a continuous barrier, it is straightforward to cut through and is primarily used to create a visual barrier.

  • Traffic cones: These straightforward traffic cones work similarly to barricade tape in that they communicate danger by using bright colors and acting as a visual barrier where entry is prohibited, or caution is advised.
  • Retractable belt carrier come mounts: Cone mounts for retractable belt barriers that can be extended to form a complete barrier and are attached to other cone mounts attached to the tops of traffic cones. These may bear warning signs such as “Authorized Access Only” and “No Parking,” similar to barricade tapes.
  • Delineators: Delineator posts are composed of polyethylene, just like barricade tape. They have a straightforward design and resemble straight upright traffic cones. They frequently have bright designs that are highly visible and convey the need for caution, much like traffic cones. Additionally, they frequently work with caution tape and barricades to form a complete barrier.


Barricade tape is a cost-effective, highly customizable alternative to other effective delineators and barriers around high-risk areas. The most specific warnings are probably “Caution” and “Danger,” but virtually any message can be printed on this robust polyethylene tape to provide the particular caution required.

The portable nature of the tapes makes them Ideal for inclusion in any organization’s emergency response kit. Every safety expert who responds to incidents ought to keep a few rolls in their emergency bag.