Camping & Survival

Uncommon Uses for the Common Emergency Blanket

Picture shows a silver emergency blanket folded up.

Various people use a variety of names to describe the  highly reflective, featherweight, paper-thin sheet including Mylar, emergency blanket, survival blanket and space or solar blanket. Whatever you call them, and whatever brand you use, they have many things in common.

Most brands have a melting point above 250 degrees, which makes them safe to use for many applications. All weigh only a few ounces and take up minimal space, making them ideal for hunters, campers and hikers. The most noticeable thing about them, besides the glaring reflective quality, is they are all extremely noisy—although the higher quality blankets are not as noisy as the lowest quality ones.

Picture shows a man sitting on the back of his vehicle wrapped in an emergency blanket.
Emergency blankets are lightweight and take up minimal space.

The material for the solar blanket was originally designed as a way to help reflect heat from space equipment but quickly gained popularity among marathon runners, physicians and hikers because of it is flexible, portable, inexpensive and insulating. Although all emergency blankets may look similar, they are not. Just like anything else on the market, there are low-end, cheap, generic solar blankets as well as higher quality types. When shopping for a solar survival blanket, you should ask yourself the following questions. How thick is the material? Thicker blankets insulate better than thinner ones. What is the overall size of the blanket? Is it large enough to completely cover you? Is it waterproof, windproof and tear resistant?

The common Mylar emergency blanket has many uses for the prepper, survivalist, camper, hiker, gardener and homeowner. Because there are so many uses, I like to keep several in my backpack and a few in my vehicles; plus I always look for them in bargain bins.

Here are some ways to use them:

  • Personal warmth in an emergency or as a supplement, such as inside a sleeping bag, coat or blanket to help keep in body heat
  • A shelter, canopy or lean-to
  • Ground cover under a tent or sleeping bag
  • A tablecloth
  • Reflective or signaling device to signal for help
  • Torn into strips for trail markers
  • Inexpensive tent divider or privacy curtain
  • A hammock (higher quality solar blankets only)
  • Snow-melting device (place the snow on top of the blanket outside)
  • Seat cover for vehicle in cold temperatures
  • Foot warmers (cut two 12-by-12-inch squares and wrap them around your feet, then cover with socks)
  • Water warmer for a container
  • Rain catcher
  • Tarp or drop cloth
  • Food cover to keep food warm
  • Food warmer (line a cooler with one of them and place warm dishes or hot rocks inside the cooler but do not add ice to create a warming oven to keep food warm for hours)
  • Plant cover for sensitive vegetable plants

    Picture shows a silver emergency blanket folded up.
    The material for the solar blanket was originally designed as a way to help reflect heat from space equipment.
  • Solar heating blanket for kiddie pool (or tape several large sizes together for a super cheap solar blanket for larger pools)
  • Pet blankets (wrap around your pet to keep them warm)
  • Pan scrubber (ball up to use as a pan scrubber)
  • Cordage (twist or braid together strands)
  • Warm pillow (Stuff with leaves or other soft material)
  • Fishing lure (cut small squares and shapes to use as lures)
  • Christmas tree tinsel (shred and hang on the tree)
  • Cheap party decorations

What others uses can you come up with? Share them in the comment section.



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Comments (16)

  1. Can use it to drape over furniture when painting – paint drips (latex paint) din’t stick.

    Also have used them to keep outdoor furniture dry for those quick-pass rain showers. A real life-saver when you have a planned cookout!

    Am definitely going to try the plant/seedlings warming tip. Thanks!

  2. Great tips! I also use my roadeavour for floor mats for my car sometimes. I know i should not. But i yeah. sometimes i dont have any choice when I have muddy shoes.

  3. Flick and Secundius –Thanks for the info.I have enjoyed both of your posts on other topics. In Hollywood I met a guy who says his foil hat keeps the CIA out of his head.

  4. I too was in the Electronics field on the Army in early/mid 70’s and, yes,foil properly applied will shield,just because the Army didnt issue the more expensive,less durable mylar does not mean it wont work.
    Try the cell phone experiment.

  5. Back in the ’70’s and ’80’s, I use to work and repair Attack Helicopters.
    We had to shield their electronics from possible EMP attacks. They didn’t supply use with space blankets to shield the equipment. The US Army supplied us with aluminum foil, too protect the equipment.

  6. When I was in US Army working on AH-1S Tow-Cobra’s, we were given a “Christmas Gift” issued by our CO, with a big smile on his face. A box of this stuff. I hated the stuff. Trying to line the inside canopy, too keep excess heat out of the cockpit. Was a Royal Pain In the Ass. It took a minimum of 3-pair of hands to do this act. And when you have a squadron of Cobra and various other helicopters to do.
    By the end-of-the day, I felt like taking a Minigun to them and save the enemy from shooting them down.

    1. Flick–Would this stuff work as a shield to protect electronics from EMP? Wrap survival radio or car ignition system so they will still work after the pulse?

    2. O&G
      Sure it will, if there are no open seams or holes.
      For electronics, walki-talkies etc I use food storage mylar bags(same stuff)….the stuff is placed inside leaving enough lip to roll several times….tell you what….put ur cell inside the blanket and after about 30 seconds take it out and quicklt look to see if it is searching for a tower signal…..mine always does after it comes out if the bags…
      Bags can be had on Amazon for about 20-25 bucks for 60 of the smaller size bags or 25 of the 5 gal bucket size….mylar can be sealed into itself using a curling iron on med heat for a few seconds…..water and air and emp proof…

    3. Keep in mind if you building a Faraday Cage. Keep the Copper area of Space Blanket away from, the electronics to be protected. A Space Blanket comes in two parts. First, you have the silvery Mylar element side which is a plastic and not a metal, it is also the binding element that keeps the second part from tearing. The second part is the copper-foil element, which is conductive, too all forms of electromagnet radiation. For added safety, use a bubble-wrap layer between the electronics and the Mylar side of Space Blanket.

    4. To answer you question, NO. A mylar space blanket will not protect your electronics for an EMP pulse. But, regular Renolds Wrap Aluminum Foil will. The more the better, the protection will be. Bury in the ground will also protect your equipment. But, you better check the metal content or the soil first. Some metals will actually amplify the effects your trying to avoid.

    5. Anyone who thinks sealed mylar wont stop EM/RF should try the cell phone experiment I posted….properly done it most certainly WILL protect from those as well as air and moisture.

    6. Yes a space blanket will stop low levels of EM/RF energy but a true EMP pulse is Many orders of magnitude greater. Layers of something more substantial with good grounding might protect your electronics but no one can really say for sure.

  7. Do they work to keep things cold? Does one side reflect heat and the other collect it? If I hang it over a window will it heat it up or reflect the heat away? In scouts in the 60s many of the dads worked for NASA or JPL. We got some of this stuff from them. Also got to see lots of COOL stuff that the public could not get to.Closed hangers at Edwards ,Goldstone, stuff behind locked gates. Miss those old guys.But again they were the greatest generation.

  8. I put a mylar blanket across the outside of my suburban’s windshield to keep the sunlight out of vehicle. I trap edges in the front doors and use the windshield wipers to keep them in place. Works great.

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