If you have been interested in survival or prepping for a while, you will undoubtedly know about those thin Mylar space blankets. Most people include them while building emergency car kits, or hiking/survival backpacks. The articles around the internet usually pick a side (Junk or Awesome). In this article I wanted to point out how a very small investment could save your life.
Exactly how do these things work?
Mylar emergency blankets are great at reflecting radiant heat. This is the main reason so many survivalists love using them. As a blanket over clothes or a roof of a shelter they work very well. They are also great at conducting heat by touch. So if you touch a mylar blanket you will notice that its cool to the touch. This means you don’t really want to use one of the normal mylar blankets against your skin. You will actually lose body heat by touch.
Ok But! how will it save my life? (3 ways)
#1. The Mylar survival blanket will help keep your body heat trapped near you when used as a blanket. This thing reflects heat back to where it came from. So logically you want to keep the heat your body is making. Clothes do this fairly well, but we want to keep even more in extreme cold situations.
#2. These things are water proof. Build your lean-to roof out of a mylar blanket and stare out at the rain while you aren’t getting wet. Preppers and survivalists love things that shield them from rain, add that to the fact that any heat built in your shelter will be reflected back down. We love heat!
#3. Use it specifically to reflect heat from a fire. Of course this thing will melt if you don’t play smart. But if you properly place this thing opposite where you want the heat to go, it will actually (yes actually) reflect heat. This works perfectly for odd shaped shelters with fires near or inside.
Where can I get one and which one should I get?
Why do so many people think these are junk?
The problem people have with any of these survival blankets is that they transfer heat through conductivity (touch). So if you are naked and happen to be rained on this blanket will allow heat to be transferred from your body to the rain by touch. However if you were to have clothes on, and the Mylar blanket on top you would be much dryer and warmer. In my opinion this is a secondary (but important) use for the item.
So what do they recommend that is so much better?
So some people like these thicker reflective blankets. Which are effectively reflective tarps. I do admit that they look like they work well, however when you look at the price you have to wonder how many mylar blankets you could buy for the same amount of cash.
There is also the problem of space. All preppers and survivalists know that space and weight are king when considering survival equipment. With the extra thick survival blanket you have to make dedicated space in your kit or bag. This is much more of a problem than a folded Mylar blanket which will most likely fill a small bit of extra space.
So why post about Mylar Emergency Blankets?
Story about building car kits
Girlfriend not impressed and how she was wrong
Tricks for teaching family.
It is absolutely vital to take these survival items out and show your family how to use them. We (preppers and survivalists) take our knowledge for granted in many cases and assume our teenage son or daughter can use a fire starter or Mylar blanket.
Here are two very fun ways to teach your young preppers on the proper use of a Mylar emergency blanket.
#1. Fill a bucket or large Tupperware with water and wrap the Mylar blanket around the hand of child or family member and have them dunk it in the water. (wrap it so the water can’t actually touch the hand) You will notice that the hand gets cold, it can feel the coolness of the water. This is because on bare skin the blanket will not help with rain. (it will however work to keep one dry)
#2. Wear normal clothes. Lay on the floor of your home and put the Mylar blanket over you just like you were taking a nap. You will immediately notice that your body is warming up. The blanket reflects your body heat back at you, and in case you or your family didn’t know, your body puts off a lot of heat.
Some alternative uses:
It is a well known fact that evaporating or running water will lower body temperature by a significant (possibly lethal) amount. So one of the BEST ways to use a mylar blanket is to string it up over your head. The stuff is GREAT at repelling water. If you have a fire going just remember that you don’t want it to melt, but also that you can use it to reflect the heat from the fire back at you.
So, in my opinion this wouldn’t make the best solar still cover because it reflects solar heat back at the sky. But its worth mentioning that it would work as a solar still depending on the location and the ambient temperature.
Signaling across distances:
This reflective blanket would be great for signaling from ridge to ridge or from ground to air. If you really wanted to get serious you could stretch it between some sticks and make it one solid mirror. I Cant imagine anyone being able to ignore that large of reflected sunlight.
parabolic mirror (some modification):
I have yet to try this, but it seems logical that if you glued this onto a satellite dish it would reflect enough light into an area to heat it up. I know there would be wrinkles BUT I think it would still work. If I ever try it I will post it for you guys and gals. LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS IF YOU HAVE DONE THIS!!!
Shelter wall liner:
A great way to use the natural reflectivity of this blanket is to use it as a shelter liner. Imagine a small cabin or cave where you had these up around the walls. It might actually make the place dangerously hot when combined with a small fire. But in the dead of winter, I would try it.