The emergency blanket is one of the items that one should consider adding in his lifesaving bug out bag. It may not look like much, but this thin piece of Mylar film can prove useful in an emergency situation and it may even save your life one day.
The emergency blanket is also known as space blanket because it was developed by NASA back in 1964. Since then, it has become an important mainstay item in many emergency and first aid kits. An emergency blanket has three main characteristics that make it indispensable for every bug out bag: it takes up little room, it’s lightweight and it can retain life-saving heat under various circumstances.
The powerful heat-retention properties were fully exploited by NASA and the Mylar material was used to line the spacesuits that went to the moon. Since you probably aren’t planning a trip to the moon anytime soon, let’s look at other 12 alternative survival uses for the space blanket.
1. An emergency blanket provides good insulation
The space blanket makes a great insulator from the cold and it can be used to fortify your sleeping bag. Many survivalists have cut a blanket up and stuffed it into their shoes and gloves to help keep warm when being stranded in the wild. According to the confessions of the less fortunate ones, the homeless have been using space blankets for quite some time and they rely on it to keep warm when cardboard is not available.
Suggested reading: Homeless survival lessons – learn from the struggles of the less fortunate.
2. Using it for water gathering
A space blanket is basically a large sheet of non-porous material, an ideal tool for catching and collecting water. There are many ways you can use it to collect water and all you need is rain. You can dig a hole and the ground and line it with the space blanket so that you form a mini pool to collect water. If you decide to do so, you need to raise the edges to avoid any dirty runoff.
Another alternative to gather water is to tie up the four corners of the blanket onto trees and use a rock to weight down the middle. Water will collect at the bottom of the funnel. If you have a container you can improvise a funnel or slide from your emergency blanket and divert any running water in your recipient. You can shape it into a cone and place snow into it. Afterwards, aligning the cone to catch sunlight will make the light to generate heat and melt the snow.
3. Make a shelter from your emergency blanket
Using a paracord or some duct tape, or even strips of the emergency blanket can help you make a shelter. Basically, you can use the emergency blanket to make a shelter just like you would do with a tarp. There are many shelter models you can make and is all up to your knowledge and main needs. I recommend reading this article about how you can create various types of shelter using a tarp. The same knowledge can be used afterwards in conjunction with an emergency blanket.
4. Signaling is easy when you have an emergency blanket
Emergency blankets usually have a silver or gold chrome like finish, a design feature that can come in handy when being stranded in unfamiliar territory. Their mirrored reflective surface is great to bounce light off of and signal for help. People getting lost in the forest were found by rescue teams because they had the idea to tie it up on a tall tree. The wind caused the emergency blanket to move and it created a fluttering light reflection that was noticeable from afar. If you have one in your bag, you can reflect the sunlight with it when you see a passing plane.
Related article: How to signal for help when you are stranded
5. A good heat reflector
You probably don’t know this, but Mylar has a melting temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it relatively safe in close proximity to an open fire. You can use your blanket to reflect heat from your campfire back into your emergency shelter. Even if you have a small heating source, in order to amplify its effect, you can get as close as possible to it and cover yourself with the blanket.
6. A medical aid
Various first aid courses show us how to use an emergency blanket to fashion a makeshift slink to help better immobilize a broken or sprained arm. It can be used even as a tourniquet in an extreme emergency situation when medical aid is not available. You can use strips from an emergency blanket to tie sticks to a leg or arm and create a splint. It can also act as an impromptu compression bandage if needed as well.
7. Waterproofing or stashing your supplies.
An emergency blanket is completely waterproof and this makes it ideal to wrap or shield items from falling water. Wilderness survivalists used to backpack items wrapped in a Mylar blanket in order to keep them dry when crossing rivers. You can keep the contents of your backpack dry by placing everything on the blanket then wrapping it prior to placing it in the pack. Others used to wrap foods and other vital items in an emergency blanket and bury it when leaving the campsite. This would protect their items from wild animals or wanderers that would stumble into their campsite.
Cooking can be a difficult task when lacking the proper gear. An emergency blanket can save the day and there are many ways it can help you cook your food. You can fashion a blanket into a bowl shape and face it into the sun; and place thinly sliced meat into it to allow the sun to do all the work. If you manage to start a fire, you can cook by flame if you use pieces of the blanket to wrap up the food needed for cooking near the fire. You don’t have to put the wrapped food on the fire, you just have to put it near enough so that it gets hot enough to cook what’s inside.
Suggested article: Survival improvised cooking in the wild
Although you should never leave your home without your paracord, chances are you may not always have access to it. In case you need a cordage, you can use strips of blanket, braided together to help improvise one. Large braided pieces of blanket can even serve as a makeshift rope in some cases. Please keep in mind that such rope might not be safe enough to climb with, but it can be used as emergency cordage to help you build a shelter, or even to secure your gear.
10. A fisher’s friend
Although I’ve never tried it, I’ve heard that many survivalists are learning how to fish using strips from an emergency blanket as lures. Apparently, fish like shiny things and they are attracted by the strips. Regardless of what fish like, if you manage to catch one, the blanket can be used to clean it and keep the dirt of your meat.
11. Use it to dry your clothes
Staying dry in the wild can be a challenge for some and most of the time you need to have an extra set of clothes. Since socks are a major problem for hikers, they have to be changed regularly. An emergency blanket can be used to dry clothes and once your laundry has stopped dripping, you can place it on the blanket in the sun to dry your clothes twice as fast.
12. Start a fire
Emergency blanket reflect nicely and they can be used to start a fire. All you need is some kindling and the right angle to concentrate the sunlight into the center of it. After a while, the sun’s light will ignite the kindling and you will have a nice fire going. You can also make use of its reflective properties and create a nice sunshade if you want to stay cool when it is hot outside.
A space blanket has many more uses and it’s all up to your imagination and the situation you find yourself in. Having one in your bug out bag, in your car or in your storage room is a great way of making sure you made a small, but important step to being more prepared. Survival is about knowing how to use versatile items, and the suggestions listed in this article may come in handy one day.
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