best way to use a space blanket

How Do Space Blankets Work?

A space blanket is a common term for emergency thermal blankets used by first aid personnel and rescue responders. They are part of a first aid kit for many hikers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts. If you're curious to know if they actually work and how, you've come to the right place. Get informed about how to use them and why they are a worthy investment.


How Do Space Blankets Work? 

Space blankets might look like they are just a flimsy sheet of thin plastic, but they are actually made from high-strength materials. The thin sheet is coated with a layer of aluminum. There are two sides to the sheet: one is designed to keep the heat off, and the other one to retain heat. 

This thin sheet of the blanket can be the single thing that would save your life during emergencies. According to survival experts, humans can survive three weeks without food and three days without water. However, you could die in three hours when exposed to harsh elements, such as extreme cold. A space blanket can extend the hours you would survive in extreme conditions. 

NASA first developed the technology behind space blankets in the early 1960s. Before that, NASA used the same technology on satellites to reflect radiated heat. Modern space blankets are manufactured using the same material and technology. They are also characterized by having reflective and non-reflective sides. 

Hypothermia occurs when the body loses too much heat and cannot maintain the ideal temperature. That is when the body temperature falls below 35 degrees Celsius (or 95 degrees F), it is a medical emergency. 

A space blanket is also a practical item to have in your first aid and emergency preparedness kit. It is lightweight; a single piece of sheet weighs no more than 3 oz. It is also compact enough to pack in your first aid kit as you can fold it into the size of a deck of cards. The most important feature of a space blanket is that it is waterproof, which helps keep you warm. 


Do Space Blankets Actually Work?

Space blankets are paper-thin blankets that look like a sheet of aluminum foil. Despite their unassuming appearance, they are engineered with thermal radiation that significantly reduces heat transfer. They are used in survival situations and emergencies because of that thermal radiation. 

Space blankets reflect the electromagnetic radiation that your body emits instead of allowing it to escape. Using the blanket reduces the amount of thermal energy consumed by the body and makes it more effective at retaining heat to maintain the ideal body temperature. Therefore, it is an essential survival item when exposed to extreme cold weather conditions. 

Using space blankets is effective for survival and minimizes body heat loss. 

Using space blankets is effective for survival


Do Space Blankets Actually Keep You Warm?

To understand if space blankets are effective in keeping your body warm, it is crucial to know the process of naturally losing your body heat. The human body naturally loses heat, a natural function that helps with survival during extreme heat conditions. For example, your body releases heat naturally to regulate your body temperature during a hot summer's day. If not, your body could overheat, and this could be fatal. However, losing too much heat can be harmful when you are cold and need your body heat to stay warm. 

The human body has different mechanisms for releasing heat. The first one is known as radiation. It works by bringing the heat onto the skin's surface before it dissipates (such as when you sweat). The next method is convection, with the wind blowing onto your skin's surface to cool you down. The last one is called conduction. You notice when you sit on a surface that your body heat is transferred onto that surface after some time. 

The design and engineering used for making space blankets manipulates the body's natural process of losing heat. It works in reverse by ensuring that your body heat is trapped within the plastic sheet instead of being released into the environment. The impermeable coating of a space blanket reduces the amount of body heat lost by up to 90%. Therefore, it uses the body's natural heat to keep you warm during extreme cold weather conditions. 

Since space blankets are not insulated, they won't reduce heat loss through conduction. Instead, they make use of convection to retain heat effectively. Hence, you must wrap a space blanket around your body to help you stay warm. 


Do Space Blankets Keep Things Cold?

No, space blankets are not designed to keep things cold. The reflective technology of the aluminum coating only works to prevent heat loss in the human body. It utilizes the human body's ability to release heat to keep you warm. It is also windproof, preventing your skin from being cooled down by the wind. 

However, it is ineffective at keeping things cold because of the thin material used. It does not offer insulation, so it is not ideal for storing food, even for a short time. The best way to use a space blanket to keep things cold is to turn the reflective surface outward to keep the heat off. This technique is ineffective at keeping cold items cool for extended periods. 


Are Space Blankets Reusable?

Yes. It is recommended that you reuse space blankets. Most space blankets sold nowadays are of good quality, and you can use them more than once. 

Space blankets can last for up to two years. The material is prone to oxidation and moisture absorption. Also, they can deteriorate in quality once exposed to ultraviolet rays. 

An emergency blanket is built to sustain up to 500 degrees of heat. However, it is not fireproof. It is also made of highly combustible materials. You must be extra cautious when using it near a campfire or any sources of ignition because even a tiny spark can cause a fire.