A very common item present in several survival kits is the emergency space blanket, also known as the first aid blanket or the Mylar blanket.
The solar blanket is simply a relatively thin blanket that is made out of a plastic sheeting that is also heat reflective. The idea is that the blanket will easily reflect your body heat back to you so you don’t lose any of it due to either convection or thermal radiation.
Their thin and compact size, cheap price, and usefulness in a survival situation is the primary reason why solar blankets have been as popular as they have. While they may look like that they are made out of aluminum foil, the material used to make solar blanket is actually NASA technology that was originally developed several decades ago.
Let’s talk about the development of space blankets and then the primary uses for them in greater detail:
The Development of Space Blankets
Space blankets were not originally invented to keep people warm in wet and cold survival situations, despite what you may have thought.
Rather, they were invented back in the early 1970s for use in outer space, hence the name ‘space blankets.’
At that time, space stations were overheating while they orbited the Earth, and it was worried that food and supplies would begin to become negatively impacted inside.
Subsequently, space blankets were invented as a means to protect the spaceships from overheating, but it didn’t take long for people to realize their practicality in other situations as well…and specifically, survival situations.
Uses For Space Blankets
Space blankets have many critical applications in a survival situation, making them among the more versatile survival items in existence. It’s for this reason that you will find one in most pre-stocked survival kits.
Examples of how you can use space blankets include:
This is the most obvious use for a space blanket, but it’s worth talking about at least. Wrapping yourself with a space blanket when you’re wet and cold out in the elements is not guaranteed to keep you alive, but it does at least increase your odds of doing so because the blanket will reflect your heat back to you.
Another way to use a space blanket to stay warm would be to tie one as a thin wall between two trees or stakes behind a small fire. The heat of the fire will then reflect back to you. You may think that the space blanket would melt, but the truth is it would only melt once it reaches almost five hundred degrees Fahrenheit. As long as you keep it an appropriate distance away from the flames, you’ll be fine.
Yet another way to use mylar blankets will be to cut them up into smaller pieces and then to use these pieces to wrap up your toes and fingers. Some people like to apply thin strips of mylar blankets as a liner to the inside of boots to help keep warm.
Fire or no fire, you can use a solar blanket as windbreak, and again by tying one as a wall between two stakes or trees. Protecting yourself from the wind may not seem as critical as protecting yourself from the rain or sleet, but the truth is that heavy enough winds can do much to lower body temperature, and keeping yourself shielded from it will be important.
You don’t have to just tie a solar blanket between two trees or stakes. You can also use it as the wall or ceiling of a shelter that you build. For instance, it would be a great choice for an A-frame shelter or a more simple lean-to.
Create A Fire
Besides placing a solar blanket wall behind a fire to help warm you, you can also use it to get a fire going. Mylar is reflective, and you can use it to reflect the heat of the sun onto some kindling or tinder to hopefully get some smoke burning. You’ll need to be really patient and steady, but it can be done.
Waterproof Sleeping Mat
Since space blankets are waterproof, they provide a suitable option as a sleeping mat over wet ground. No, they’re not going to make the ground much more comfortable (you’re going to need something thicker for that), but an emergency space blanket on the ground will help to protect your body from the dampness of the chilly ground, and you’ll retain your heat throughout the night.
Build A DIY Oven
Need to cook find that you catch or find? If so, you can easily get a DIY oven going with a solar blanket.
Simply dig a small hole under the hot sun and then place rocks in the bottom and sides of the hole. Spread out a solar blanket in the hole, and then set your thin pieces of meat onto the mylar. Over the course of the day, the mylar will reflect the sun’s heat onto the food to cook it.
Before you can build your DIY oven with your solar blanket to cook food, it would probably be useful to catch some food in the first place, right?
Well, you can catch food, and yes you can do it with a solar blanket. Fish are naturally attracted to shiny objects, and you can attach a smaller strip of the solar blanket to your fishing line to help attract the attention of a fish, in the hope that it will then make a strike at your bait.
First Aid Applications
A mylar blanket can be used as a tourniquet, a bandage, or as a sling to help treat a major wound. Since space blankets can tear easily, you’ll probably want to use multiple layers of it for any of these purposes rather than just one thin layer.
Take any space blanket and then cut it up into smaller strips to create a cordage-like material, which can then be used for a wide variety of different applications.