What Is An Emergency Blanket And Do I Need One?

If you like to be prepared for the worst, an emergency blanket should be on your survival gear list, which you can read about on our site. As the name suggests, an emergency blanket will help you survive the elements when you find yourself in an emergency. However, there is more to it than that. 

emergency blanket

What is an Emergency Blanket?

Not to be confused with a fire blanket, an emergency blanket, also known as a space blanket, thermal blanket, or first aid blanket, is an extremely light metallic blanket that looks like tin foil. They were first developed by NASA in 1964 to protect space equipment. 

A space blanket is made of a material called Mylar, a polyester film you can also find in packaging bags, pouches, and some yogurt lids. It is what makes the inside of potato chip bags shiny. Most emergency blankets are very lightweight and come in many varieties and colors. 

How Does it Work?

An emergency blanket works by trapping your body heat and preventing your body from losing more of it as you sweat. Moreover, the reflective surface of the blanket can also keep you cool by reflecting the heat from the sun. 

Emergency Blanket Uses

To Protect you From the Elements

As mentioned, the main purpose of an emergency blanket is to keep you warm by working as indicated above. It can also protect you from the wind and keep you cool in a sunny and hot environment without shade. Keep the shiny side up toward the sun.

Do not completely wrap it around yourself. Create air circulation by opening the sides. 

As a Signal

An emergency blanket can be used to signal for help when you are lost and do not have a way to access any help. You can either place it flat on the floor, wrap it around yourself or wrap it around a piece of wood or bottle to signal for help. 

Window Reflector

Winter can be brutal, and there are several ways to stay safe during a winter storm. If you find yourself trapped in a car and unable to get aid, you can use your emergency blanket to keep yourself warm by cutting it into pieces and lining your windows with it. 

Protect your Equipment

Sometimes, the rain can catch you off guard and end up being a curse rather than a blessing, particularly if your backpack or equipment is not weatherproof. Nevertheless, if you have an emergency blanket, you can use it to cover your equipment or tie it to the top of your backpack to cover it. 


Fish are attracted to shiny objects. This is why you will catch a lot of fish if you use bait that reflects the sun. Using this premise an emergency blanket can be used for this purpose. You can either cut a small fice and attach it to your fishing hook or 

Building Shelter

If you do not have a camping tent or find yourself stranded and in need of shelter, an emergency blanket will do. Since it is windproof and waterproof, it can be used to build a temporary tarp shelter to protect you from the elements of the weather and keep you warm and dry.

When sleeping in the shelter, you can use the blanket as a barrier to keep your sleeping pad from getting wet. 

Start a Fire

Because of the material they are made of, emergency blankets are very flammable. A tiny spark or flame can cause them to ignite and burn. That is why you are always advised to keep it away from any flame. However, this may come in handy when you need to start a fire.

You can cut a small piece and roll it into a ball and use it as tinder to light a fire and keep it burning for longer.  

Collect and Carry Water

You need water to survive. The average person can only survive without water for three days. In a case where you have no access to water, and it is raining, you can spread the emergency blanket to capture any rainwater and use a funnel to pour it into a bottle.

This is a great way to collect a lot of water in one sitting. 

You can also use it to fetch water and carry the water by folding it and tying the ends with a rope or band. Emergency blankets have high-tensile strength, so the water will not leak through the blanket. 

For First Aid

An emergency blanket can also be used as a sling when you have injured your hand. A heavy-duty one can also be used to carry an injured person by using it to make a makeshift stretcher. 

In Summary

Emergency blankets are relatively cheap, and you should have more than one more because most are not reusable. It is one item you should always keep with you, be it in the house, car, survival kit, or hiking backpack. When traveling, add it to your travel safety kit. 

Last Updated on October 20, 2023

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