Guide to Emergency and Space Blankets

Space blankets, also known as emergency blankets, are a necessary component of any bug-out kit. Your blanket can give you the comfort and physical protection you need to survive in unpleasant circumstances, whether you’re traveling somewhere in the winter or are trapped in a hurricane. Due to the material of these blankets, which is incredibly light, users can retain 90% of their body heat by preventing heat from escaping from their bodies.

Brief History of Emergency Blankets

The first aid blanket, safety blanket, thermal blanket, weather blanket, and heat sheet blanket are some of the numerous names for the emergency space blanket. Although it appears to be nothing more than a thin sheet of aluminum, a lot of science at work makes this small sheet a crucial component for marathon runners, hikers, campers, and other physically demanding sports.

As a result of a space mission, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center initially created these blankets in 1964. This tiny blanket is made of a plastic sheet coated in gold or silver, which reflects 97% of the heat radiation.

Mature woman in a car crash looking upset and distressed

What Materials Go into Making an Emergency Blanket?

The most recent emergency blanket versions, which allow for repeated use, are created utilizing two independent layers of mylar instead of the older models’ aluminum foil construction. Additionally, sellers are utilizing bold hues that are simple to spot from a distance, allowing customers to use them as shelters in case they need to be rescued in an emergency.

They’ve been dubbed space blankets instead since they also contain tinfoil, the same material NASA employed in its “Apollo” project. The main characteristics of the materials are that they are waterproof and dustproof, retain 90% of body heat for several days, and are virtually impossible to pull apart. Additional benefits include industry-leading insulation, and all of these qualities are contained in a 50-gram blanket that can easily be utilized to shield an adult.

Furthermore, no sockets or accumulators are needed for emergency blankets. Additionally, if someone wishes to use them as a tent, they will protect themselves from the sun’s rays because the material of the blanket will reflect them. It’s important to note that because it can induce overheating, it’s not a good idea for anyone to wrap oneself in a space blanket below the sun. In a hot area, it’s best to utilize emergency blankets just for an awning.

The waterproofing substance used to make emergency blankets ensures that anything wrapped in them will be protected from water spills provided the blanket isn’t damaged or punched. It can be used to wrap food that has to be kept cool with sealed edges and then lowered into a source of running water. Although it can float away, you would need to tie it up.

What is the Function of Emergency Space Blankets?

One would be perplexed as to how something so thin can keep their body warm. This thin sheet is made by covering a plastic sheet with vaporized aluminum. This produces a material that is 0.45mm thick, waterproof, flexible, and thermally reflective. The intrinsic tendency of aluminum to reflect thermal radiation is what keeps these blankets warm despite their thinness.

One example is when marathon runners come to a halt after a long run, their bodies quickly begin to cool down, expelling a large amount of heat. This can be dangerous to them since they are susceptible to catching a summer cold as a result of the rapid changes in their bodies. The marathoners, on the other hand, slow the process of cooling down their bodies by enveloping themselves in emergency space blankets. Similarly, in the winter, you might see runners donning these blankets before the race to remain warm and protected from the elements. Emergency space blankets keep you warm because they prevent or reduce evaporation and convective heat loss. After a strenuous run or hike, the sweat begins to evaporate, causing the body to cool down, which may result in hypothermia. 

However, when you cover your body in an emergency space blanket, the evaporation process slows down because the blanket increases the humidity in the air inside itself. The icy chilling breeze is unable to steal warmth from the heated body because the process of convection is slowed. In the absence of an emergency space blanket, the cold wind will take away your body’s warmth, rapidly reducing your body temperature, which can be fatal.

Portrait female runners in foil blanket drinking water after race

Emergency Space Blanket Applications

Unlike a standard blanket, an emergency space blanket can be utilized for various purposes. It’s difficult to comprehend that a single sheet-like blanket can serve so many functions. People might use an emergency space blanket as an SOS signal because of its gleaming silver or gold finish. So, in essence, it can be a lifeline for people who are trapped in an emergency scenario and need to be rescued. The waterproof nature of an emergency space blanket might assist you in providing shelter when it is raining, and you have nowhere to hide.

1. Insulation

An emergency blanket is excellent cold-weather insulation. If you have a sleeping bag, use it to reinforce it, or rip a blanket up and tuck it into your shoes and gloves to keep your toes toasty. The insulation feature of the emergency blanket is the reason why many people are including it on their bug out bags. To know more about what other items you can include, read our Guide to Selecting Items for a Bug Out Bag.

2. For Signaling

Typically, emergency blankets have a silver or gold chrome-like sheen. Their mirrored reflective surface is ideal for reflecting light and signaling for assistance. Wind may generate a fluttering light reflection when strung up on a tall object, such as a tree, increasing your chances of detection.

3. Temporary Shelter

By securing two of the blanket’s corners to trees with paracord, duct tape, or even just a few pieces of itself, you may construct a “lean-to” shelter that will protect you from the rain or the sun.

4. Gather Water

A space blanket is excellent for capturing and gathering water because it is a sizable sheet of non-porous material. If it rains, you can create a small swimming pool-like hole in the ground and line it with materials to catch the water. To prevent any soiled drainage, make sure the edges are raised. You can also tie the four corners of the water container to a tree and use a boulder to weigh the middle down if you want to keep the water container off the ground. Water will amass at the base of this crude funnel.

5. Waterproofing

Because the sheet is waterproof, anything adequately wrapped or shielded from falling water should be able to stay dry. Place everything in your backpack on the blanket and wrap it before putting it in the pack to help keep the contents dry. Use a blanket as a tent footprint or groundsheet to keep yourself and your belongings dry.

6. Cooking

Create a bowl-shaped blanket and position it in the sun. Put some meat in it that has been very thinly cut and let nature do its thing. This functions best when the sun is directly overhead. Alternatively, if you choose to cook with fire, you can wrap food for cooking close to the fire with portions of a blanket. Place your wrapped food near the fire, not on it, and it should warm up enough to cook what’s within.

7. For Medical Emergency

An emergency blanket can be made into a temporary sling to help better immobilize a broken or sprained arm or, in a true emergency, it can be used as a tourniquet. To make a splint for an injured limb, bind strips of it to a leg or an arm. If necessary, it can also serve as a makeshift compression bandage.

8. Reflection of Heat

Since a space blanket melts at 500 degrees Fahrenheit, it is reasonably safe to place one near an open flame. Redirect heat from a campfire using a space blanket.

9. Meat Capturing and Cleaning

Because fish are drawn to shiny objects, blanket strips used as lures should be more effective at drawing them in than merely a hook. An emergency blanket also provides a spotless, sizable surface for cleaning fish.

10. Rope

It is possible to create a braided rope by braiding blanket stripes together. In some situations, large braided portions can even be used as temporary rope. Emergency cordage is useful for securing your gear or helping you create a shelter, while it’s not safe enough to climb with.

When it comes to temperature-regulating materials, this cutting-edge technology developed by NASA has been nothing short of a revolution. The space blanket, often referred to as the thermal blanket, mylar blanket, camping blanket, foil blanket, emergency blanket, and blanket for survival, was created out of a simple need. The space blanket was developed to address a problem. Besides an emergency blanket, there are also other items that are considered essential for emergencies. To know more about these items, read the Guide to Selecting Items You Need at Home for Emergency Situations.