Ask any survival specialist, outdoor enthusiast, or trained first aider, and they’ll tell you that one of the most important things to have in an emergency situation is a mylar bag. Otherwise called mylar blankets or emergency thermal blankets, you might think their only use is keeping you warm, but they can actually be used in a multitude of different ways that just might get you out of a sticky situation.
What are Mylar Blankets?
Mylar blankets are basically sheets of shiny, silver plastic-like material that reflect light and resist moisture. These blankets can be stored virtually anywhere without fear of shrinking, ripping, or cracking over time. Mylar blankets are commonly found in survival kits and outdoor activity inventories because they can be used as shelter, clothing, or even as an emergency signal in an event of distress.
How to Handle Mylar Blankets
There are several different uses for mylar blankets, but only one way to handle them. First off, it’s important that you do not use a knife or scissors to break open the packaging. While mylar blankets are rather sturdy, they weren’t made to resist the damage brought about by sharp objects.
Another thing to bear in mind when handling your mylar blanket is that you should see to it that the edges are properly secured, especially if you want it to lay flat against a surface. This is because mylar blankets are naturally thin and flimsy, and the slightest breeze could send an unsecured edge fluttering in the wind.
Finally, keep in mind that mylar blankets resist moisture and incubate heat, so it wouldn’t be a smart idea to wrap it around you if you’re in a hot environment as this could further increase your body’s moisture loss.
Different Uses for Mylar Blankets
- Defense Against Frostbite – In extremely cold climates, frostbite can eat away at a person’s flesh and this process usually begins at the fingers and toes. To use your mylar blanket as a defense against frostbite, cut up a few sections and use these to line the inside of your socks and gloves. This will help prevent your body heat from escaping and will keep cold from entering your clothes.
- Sleeping Mat – It can be difficult to find a place to rest especially if rains start to pour and dampen the ground beneath you. A mylar blanket works as a great alternative sleeping bag and is an effective way to keep yourself safe from moisture that could cause chills and shivers.
- Campfire Drop back – Mylar blankets are made of reflective material that can bounce off heat. By placing one behind your fire pit, you keep the heat from seeping into the environment beyond the blanket where there’s nothing to keep warm, and thus maximize the heat for yourself.
- Oven – If there’s nothing to make a fire with and you need to cook food to eat, set up some rocks in a circular pattern and place the mylar blanket across the top of the rocks. Position your food on top of the blanket and allow the sunlight to heat it and cook it. For this to work, you have to make sure that the sun is facing directly down at your set-up to maximize the heat.
- Trail Finder – In the event that you have to wander away from your camp, small bits of mylar blanket will help you find your way back. The reflective nature of the material makes it hard not to see against the dark green and brown colors of the outdoors. Before you head out, cut up small pieces of the blanket and lay these down a few feet away from each other as you go along your trail to help you retrace your steps.
- Signal – Mylar blankets are so reflective that they can be seen from miles away. If you’re injured, stranded, or lost, laying a mylar blanket flat on the ground or inclined against a wall or rock will help others locate you.
- Lure – When outdoors, it’s always better to find food sources that will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Fish is a great option, but requires some skill to catch. If you don’t have any fishing equipment with you, simply wrapping a piece of mylar blanket to a small pebble and dangling it in water will help lure fish towards you.
- Cordage – Braiding your mylar blanket can serve a multitude of different functions, such as extra cord for tents, for makeshift pouches, or even bags for carrying fish and supplies. But be careful as mylar blankets were not designed to take on heavy loads. If you were thinking of using this to support your weight as you climbed down the side of a cliff, you would be much better off with a strong piece of rope as mylar can’t carry human weight.
- Arm Sling or Tourniquet – If you fall, slip, or otherwise injure your arm or leg, or if you sustain a bleeding wound, a mylar blanket can function as an arm sling or tourniquet. Simply cut a strip long enough to use for your injuries and fashion a makeshift sling to support the damaged body part.
- Incubator – In cold weather where you have nothing but the clothes on your back, a mylar blanket can work to reduce the heat lost from your body. Simply warp yourself in the blanket and make sure your entire body is inside – including your head. If you have a companion, it would be wise to share the blanket to increase heat production. If you’re in your home, can’t leave due to a calamity, and there’s no electricity, using mylar blankets to cover your windows will keep heat from escaping your space for a warmer indoor temperature.
- Shelter – Tying the ends of a mylar blanket to trees and posts in the environment could work well as an overhead shelter to keep you from falling insects, rain, and snow.
- For Plants – Mylar blankets can be used at home in your garden when summer comes rolling around the corner. Suspending a mylar blanket over a bed of plants gives them enough sunlight to survive while still keeping them safe from burning under direct sunlight. This also works to fend off birds and other pests that might want to take advantage of your garden.