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How Space Blankets Work

Space Blankets for Survival

An important part of any first aid kit, a space blanket provides you with more benefits than just keeping warm. However, keeping warm should always be your first priority in any type of survival or adventure situation.

Some of the most useful things about space blankets are that they're lightweight, take up very little space and don't cost very much. A typical space blanket costs less than $4 and weighs about 3 ounces (85 grams). Folded up, it's about the size of a deck of cards, and unfolded it's about 56 by 84 inches (142 by 213 centimeters) [source: REI].

Here are just a few ways you can utilize a space blanket in a survival situation:

Emergency blanket -- Of course, the space blanket's main purpose is helping you or someone else stay warm. It's especially useful in a first-aid kit if someone is going into shock. Wrap the blanket around the person, tucking it in on the sides and under the feet in order to keep body heat in and cold out. Cover the person's head with a hat or scarf to prevent further heat loss.

Emergency shelter -- In a pinch, you can use your space blanket as a tent, tarp or lean-to. The material is waterproof so it will protect you from rain or wet snow. If you are in a cold weather situation, take advantage of the shiny side of the blanket to reflect heat from a campfire back to you. The metallic surface will bounce the heat of the fire toward you and help keep you warm.

Keep warm -- Besides using a space blanket as a blanket, you can also use it to insulate your space. For example, let's say you become trapped in your car during a freak winter blizzard. Cover the windows of the car with the space blanket -- shiny side in. It will help reflect your body heat back inside the car.

Keep cool -- In the same way that the space blanket reflects heat back toward you, it can also reflect heat away from you. If you're in a tent, and the sun is bearing down on you, put the blanket shiny-side-up on top of the tent. Have you ever seen shiny sun shields on the windows of cars during the summer? Same idea -- the metallic surface of the sun shield reflects the heat of the sun out of the car.

Signal for help -- Because the surface of the blanket is so shiny, it makes a good distress signal. The reflective surface makes it more easily visible from the sky. Some space blankets even come with the letters "SOS" printed right on the blanket itself.

With a little creativity, you can probably find even more ways to use your space blanket.

Space blankets come in different brands, sizes and shapes. Keep reading to find out more.