Different Uses for an Emergency Blanket

Written by The Ready Store

The idea for the Mylar blanket originated with NASA. In 1964 the organization was looking for a material that would insulate, be lightweight and very efficient. They invented the Mylar blanket (aka space blanket) and it has since been used on virtually every space mission. The shiny blanket lined the bottom of the Apollo lunar lander vehicles and, as a tribute to its usefulness, is still used today in satellites, space stations and telescopes.

While the idea had many uses for space travel, the blanket has since found many uses for preparedness and emergencies. The blanket can be used during power outages, auto breakdowns, to collect water, create shelter and more. Check out these ideas below and be sure to add your own in the comment section.

- Do you know how to make your own rope? – 

Warmth
Obviously you can use the emergency blanket to keep you warm. Mylar blankets retain 80-90% of your body heat and since they’re so compact, they fit easily in 72-hour kits and in your car’s emergency kit.

Sleeping Bag
You can use duct tape and an emergency blanket to make a toasty sleeping bag for a child. Simply fold the bag over and tape the edges together to create a sleeping bag. For adults, you’ll probably have to tape two blankets together. You can also use them as lining for an existing sleeping bag to retain more heat.

Power Outages
Since Mylar blankets are good at keeping heat in; you can use them on your windows if the power goes out. They will reflect back light from a fireplace indoors and create a pocket barrier in your window frame to keep the cold out.

Shelter
If you’re out hiking and get stranded, an emergency blanket would make a pretty helpful shelter. It might not be able to withstand a lot of extreme weather but it will keep rain off of you and keep the warmth in. You can use the blanket to make a simple lean-to shelter in the woods.

Signaling Device
Emergency blankets are very reflective. In fact, they reflect out 99% of light rays. They would make a great signaling device to search and rescue helicopters or cars from a distance.

Collect Rainwater
Mylar emergency blankets are waterproof and do a great job of repelling water. Use that to collect moisture. You can simply lay the blanket out at night to collect dew. You can also position the blanket strategically to collect water in a bucket or canister.

- Make a Paracord Drawstring Pouch – 

Fire Starter
As we mentioned previously, emergency blankets reflect nicely. Line a bowl (or hole shaped like a bowl) with a Mylar blanket. Place some kindling in the middle of the blanket and angle the blanket to it concentrates its light into the center. The concentration from the bowl shape will transfer the sun’s light to ignite the kindling.

What Ideas Do You Have?
Comment below to tell us what you can use an emergency blanket for. Do you carry them in your 72-hour kit? Share your knowledge below.

You might also be interested in:
- 14 Beautiful Flowers that You Can Eat – 
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- How to Survive in Your Car for 48 Hours – 

Updated March 2, 2013

33 Comments

  1. Bonnie wrote:

    I used one to line the back of my indoor plant starting shelving/grow light system to reflect a little more light back to the plants.

    March 4th, 2013 at 4:40 am
  2. Dave wrote:

    2 cents worth. The blankets are good but the Space Bags are far better!. Having carried one of therm on 6 continents I attest to their utility. Once while camping in north Texas with my Boy Scouts, a blue nother came in from Okla. The fire went out and one of the boys who was ill prepared got soaking wet. He was entering hypothermia. I put him in a bag which stabilized him until we got some heat. Probably saved his life.

    March 4th, 2013 at 5:08 am
  3. Candy Biller wrote:

    I have a case of them in my kit. They can also be used as a medical stretcher with the help of several people to carry the victim.
    Simply roll the sides around a stick such as a broom handle, grip tightly,and lift.

    March 4th, 2013 at 7:38 am
  4. mrs julie ann neary wrote:

    reflective and shields against heat and radioactive ness of sunshine and shields against soe other forms of radiactivity

    so if advised to protect yourself from suns rays can give you shade as well as reflect light either side

    i tape one at a window

    March 4th, 2013 at 8:16 am
  5. Bart wrote:

    Like Bonnie, I have used it for lighting with plants. I used it for surrounding an indoor hydroponics system for fresh veggies, even through the winter. It also helps keep the warmth in for better plant growth.
    One question; is it thick enough, or is the Mylar correct for making freezer bags using a vacuum sealing system? I have not tried it – yet.

    March 4th, 2013 at 8:40 am
  6. Erika wrote:

    I tend to use them to line my cooler when taking food to my camp. It adds an extra couple of days to the life of the ice.

    March 4th, 2013 at 10:07 am
  7. Mr. Prepper wrote:

    IT IS A MUST HAVE IN YOUR BUG OUT KIT AND IN THE CARE. I KEEP SEVERAL. WILL HAVE TO TRY THE FIRE STATER.

    March 4th, 2013 at 12:01 pm
  8. James wrote:

    I have yet to see any of these heavy enough to use as a litter. I don’t think that most on the market have any serious strength and often rip as they are removed from the packag. They usually reflect 80-90% of radiated heat, which only accounts for 5% of total body heat loss. I only use them with a regular blanket, the mylar to reflect heat and a blanket or jacket to provide insulation.

    March 4th, 2013 at 12:06 pm
  9. Herb Glover wrote:

    I’m a photographer. There are times when parts of a scene or a human subject needs more light for proper exposure. I carry one of these in my gadget bag and either spread it on the ground or wrap it around a large cardboard section and focus the sunlight where it is needed. Space blankets are excellent photo reflectors!

    March 4th, 2013 at 1:28 pm
  10. William wrote:

    Around the camp fire you can use it as a heat reflector on the opposite side of the fire fro whwre you are sitting. No sense in letting heat go to someone who is not there.

    March 4th, 2013 at 1:45 pm
  11. Ann wrote:

    Dave,

    How specifically can a Space Bag be used to keep someone warm? The Space Bags that I have are used to store clohing in less space.

    March 4th, 2013 at 4:45 pm
  12. woody wrote:

    @BART – No.
    @CANDY – They’re too flimsy for that.
    @The Ready Store – Good reminder for folks to keep MORE THAN ONE handy for each daypack, pack or bug-out bag.
    @JAMES – As you know, most heat loss is through the head.
    @DAVE – Spot on!

    I’ve had to use them on occasion, but the most memorable was when the Alaska Blaster hit the West Coast in Jan of ’89(?). I’d gone on a solo fishing trip to the Sierra’s; it got so cold that the only thing I removed was my boots, and had to reinforce my bag with mylar (thank goodness I had some!). I’d forgotten to tuck my canteen in my bag with me, and was unable to drink from the little chubby bottle (frozen) in the morning! No mylar would have meant a retreat to the nearest town.

    March 5th, 2013 at 8:40 am
  13. Bart wrote:

    @ Woody — “No”???
    Strange, I have used them for that for many years. The light that florescent shop fixtures fitted with warm white and cool white lamps (1-2 ratio) grow veggies all year round, in the basement, just fine. The reflected light around the sides of the plants makes a huge difference, and yes I do realize that a high reflective white is better for quantity of light. A freshly picked cantaloupe for Christmas morning with a couple feet of snow on the ground is priceless.
    “No”? I know better than that —

    March 5th, 2013 at 8:48 am
  14. JeannieC wrote:

    @Bart – I think Woodie was answering your question re the freezer bags! We all know it can be used for reflecting light :-)

    March 5th, 2013 at 3:39 pm
  15. William S. wrote:

    Mylar window shades are costly but cut afternoon heat from the summer sun by 75% and winter heat loss by 25%. Using mylar blankets will do much the same without the cost. Just hang them between the curtains and the glass window.

    March 6th, 2013 at 3:06 pm
  16. Thomas wrote:

    They’re not big enough for grown too big people.

    March 6th, 2013 at 3:58 pm
  17. Bart wrote:

    JeannieC — Thank You!! That looks correct now you mention it —
    Woody – Please forgive my incorrect assumption –

    March 7th, 2013 at 8:54 am
  18. Deborah wrote:

    Ann, these are sleeping bags made of mylar, not the kind you use to store things. They are not replacements for sleeping bags in heavy cold but good in an emergency as they reflect body heat back and cut the wind.
    Thomas, I hadn’t thought of that………will have to think about how to fix two together. Maybe splitting one down the center and using a flat mylar blanket to fill in the space using maybe duct tape, which would need to be done before packing it.
    Woody, actually, your head is only a very small portion of your body surface and while you do lose some heat from your head it is not the place you lose most of your heat (I just watched a medical program on that). But why risk losing heat at all? Wear a hat.

    March 8th, 2013 at 4:35 am
  19. Paul wrote:

    Would a Mylar Bag, or a Mylar Blanket be sufficient for EMP protection? would Mylar be the same as Aluminum foil in that instance? Curious..

    March 9th, 2013 at 8:25 pm
  20. Bob wrote:

    I saw an interesting use: someone on a cable TV survival show made a balloon by cutting a folded space blanket in the general shape of a hot air balloon scaled down. Using pine resin scraped from a tree, he glued the sides along the cut. Then at the bottom an opening a few inches across housed a homemade string harness holding a smoldering fire source. Only the top was smoldering and care was made not to touch the Mylar with the fire- it would of course melt.
    A note was attached with a sketch of the location these people were (theoretically) waiting to be rescued. OK it seems a bit out there at first but it went up into the breeze and floated up and off to my entertainment and surprise. To theirs also. They had chosen a last stand location for rescue and could spare the Mylar. It might lead someone to a useful idea someday. A military special forces unit trained him a way to do this. Worked like a weather balloon.

    March 10th, 2013 at 6:51 pm
  21. Mitchel wrote:

    Paul,
    From what I understand regarding electromagnetismm (EMP), neither reflective mylar NOR aluminum is effective. Try touching a magnet to one side of an aluminum sheet and a piece of syeel to the other and then slide the magnet. The steel will move. The Faraday Cage is steel. The magnetic flux will in effect magnetize the steel box yet “flow” around it. The idea is to prevent the magnetic flux from flowing inside the box (cage). As I understand it, electrical insulation is also required to protect the contents.

    March 13th, 2013 at 3:01 pm
  22. Geraldina wrote:

    Please don’t let mylar balloons loose where transformers are. They can blow up the transformers and the Electric Companies will have a mess on their hands.

    Thanks,

    Geraldina

    March 14th, 2013 at 10:05 am
  23. Tom wrote:

    Please don’t confuse magnetism or the inability to inhibit magnetism as a criteria for EMP rejection. EMP is and electromagnetic Pulse of static energy, think lightning only with higher voltage and spread over a larger area. Mylar is used in the elctronics industry to package static sensitive parts to protect them from damage. Whether or not is has sufficient static rejection to nullify an EMP surge is another matter entirely. I’m sure one of the math geniuses out there reading the blog can put that one to bed. Do your research on EMP. There are several studies that indicate it may not be as big an issue to electronics as it is to the national power grid.

    March 14th, 2013 at 9:03 pm
  24. sandyg wrote:

    I wonder if it could be used as a solar cooker?

    July 26th, 2013 at 5:22 pm
  25. Irish-7 wrote:

    I bought a bunch of these cheap Space Blankets to put in small survival kits and Bug Out Bags. I have yet to open one. Sportman’s Guide will sell you a bag of them for less than 20 bucks. I also purchased the SOL Bivies, which appear to be thicker and more durable. I am assuming that’s what previous comments were referring to as Space Bags. Anyway, they are much thicker than the small blanket, but still lightweight and require little room in your bag. I picture using the cheaper models in conjunction with another item, like the All Weather Blanket or military poncho with liner. I think it is a great idea to pack a Space Blanket or two in your car, your purse or gym bag. But, I would NOT count on one of these flimsy tin-foil-looking wraps to build a shelter, or gather and store water. They just don’t seem that resilient.

    August 26th, 2013 at 8:03 am
  26. Marshall wrote:

    To Geraldina,

    If there are electric transformers in the area, and you were somehow stranded and kept from following the electric line to civilization, I would want to destroy the transformer asap. The electric company would be sending out workers looking for the source of their money, er, I mean power outage. Rescue here we come.

    August 26th, 2013 at 4:40 pm
  27. Kari wrote:

    You can also use your emergency blanket to make a solar oven. There is a lady who has a youtube video of her using one to boil water, by simply placing the emergency blanket over a plastic lawn chair, then placing a black metal camp cup in an oven bag.

    August 28th, 2013 at 8:55 am
  28. NameStan wrote:

    If you are building a retreat of some place to hide,putting the mylar blankets on the walls, (stapled to the studs), will help blocking your infrared signature from those with infrared equipment. Put the sheetrock over the mylar and finish the wall normally. This will help with heating and cooling also. Don’t forget to cover the windows also.

    September 3rd, 2013 at 9:52 am
  29. anon wrote:

    In high school, we made mylar balloons by coloring them with sharpies and sealing the seams with a flat iron.

    January 7th, 2014 at 8:56 am
  30. Comforts of Home wrote:

    During an extended Winter Power outage. Place a single bed under the kitchen table then drape the table with Mylar blankets. So far this is just theory (and I hope it stays that way) This should make a comfortable place to ride out the outage. Or just go home and stay with your parents.

    August 7th, 2014 at 6:20 am
  31. Karen wrote:

    Went camping in below freezing weather. Opted to sleep in my jeep. Even with a ground cushion under my sleeping bag, couldn’t get warm. It hit me that jeeps have more holds in the floor than most. Opened up my emergency blanket and put it as the bottom layer and conked right out!

    August 31st, 2014 at 8:20 am
  32. Barra wrote:

    I play Celtic harp (not one of those big gilded things you see with symphony orchestras; mine has a wooden frame, descendant from the bardic harps used in Scotland for over 1,000 years). One of my biggest concerns when going to a gig is protecting it from the sun’s heat. I was advised to get an emergency blanket, and we tested it in a friend’s back yard. Wow! The rest of my harp ensemble went out and got them too. One winter night, on my way home, i had some car trouble. I was out in the country, and and had to wait over an hour for AAA to get there. Luckily, even though it was an evening gig, I’d automatically brought the blanket, which I wrapped around myself. Being susceptible to bronchitis, I think this is why I didn’t get sick that time.

    October 25th, 2014 at 11:48 am
  33. CT wrote:

    We had a cat that refused to come into the house no matter how cold it got. He did however take over the dog house when the temp dipped to -5F(the dog was smart enough to come inside). So we lined the dog house with a Mylar, our cat and two others lived in it all winter.

    October 27th, 2014 at 10:59 pm

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