Categories > Survival Gear

Space Blankets: Useful Survival Gear or False Sense of Security?

It is a topic that is debated frequently in a variety of prepping and survival forums. Are space blankets (those cheap tin-foil-like blankets) useful for keeping a person alive in an emergency situation, or do they simply provide a false sense of security?

I believe they are very handy in the right circumstance, but the user needs to have appropriate expectations of this piece of survival gear. After all, if these were the greatest thing since sliced bread then everyone in the Arctic would have all their clothes made out of the stuff! That isn’t the case.

Space Blankets are made from aluminum coated mylar plastic (sometimes called mylar blankets), and they fold down to about the size of a pack of cigarettes. There are a few variations of the blankets out there. Here are some links to the blankets from our favorite online survival retailer…

Small, lightweight (“almost” single use) blankets can be found for under $5 at most places. Click on this Discount Space Blanket Link where you can purchase 12 of them (for the whole family).

This is a more durable version that I personally have used as a ground sheet, and as a shelter tarp. They are a bit more expensive, but well worth it in my mind (they don’t pack down as small though). Click here for pricing and more info.

Let’s have a look at what these mylar blankets can be used for:

They are excellent at reflecting heat, so if you wrap yourself in them, they supposedly will retain up to 80% of your body heat. Alternatively, you may want to use them to provide some sort of reflective shield to direct warmth from a fire onto where you are sleeping. 

  1. Because they are shiny and colorful, they can be used as a signaling device when needing rescue.
  2. The more durable ones have built in grommets that you can use to string up a make-shift shelter with (and shield from the sun). You can make up a similar shelter with the cheaper, lighter versions but you need to reinforce the edges with duct tape before you start punching holes in the blanket (it will just rip otherwise)
  3. Some models can be worn poncho style as they have a built in hood
  4. They can be used as the lining of a solar oven
  5. They can be taped over the inside of the windows of your home of vehicle to reflect the suns rays / heat AWAY from where you are, keeping you cooler. The opposite is true in the winter when you want to keep heat IN.
  6. They shed rain, snow, and wind (keep in the mind the more compact versions need to be reinforced to stand up to winds
  7. They are VERY small and VERY light – easy to pack

 

Now, having gone through some of the uses of the blankets, here are some cautionary items:

  1. They are an impermeable barrier, so they don’t breathe. That could be bad for the sweat factor
  2. The smaller ones don’t work that well for a tarp
  3. They rip easily (the smaller ones)
  4. They are loud, so in some situations that may not be desired

In the end, there are a variety of situations these space blankets can be used, but it is important to use some common sense and understand their limitations. For a wide variety of space blanket options and survival gear Click here for pricing and more info from Nitro-Pak

Emergency Kits

Emergency Preparedness Kits: Are you prepared?

“Where’s the flashlight??!!” This is often the first thing out of someone’s mouth when the power goes out. Not necessarily the biggest emergency as power companies are usually on the ball and have the situation cleared up within hours. But what if they didn’t? What if the power was out for a day? Two days? One week… Would you be prepared for an emergency?

Being prepared goes far beyond just having a flashlight that has working batteries in it (mental note: check flashlight batteries tonight…) stashed in the junk drawer in your kitchen or laundry room. Every year there are emergency situations across North America that warrant preparedness; hence, the Emergency preparedness kit. I know a lot of people have a mini version in the trunks of their vehicles (I live in Canada so it’s pretty common) but I don’t know a lot of people who have these in their homes.

DO I REALLY NEED AN EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS KIT?
Contrary to popular belief, survival kits did not go out of style at the end of the Cold War. Survival kits and disaster preparedness are still all the rage, for good reason. Our society is an ever-growing throbbing mass of people with the consumers out-weighing the producers.

It is the norm to go about our busy days thinking, “I can just go to the store and buy things if I need them.” or “I can just go to the bank.” or I can just turn on the faucet and open the fridge.” “That will never happen. “But it does happen. Ice storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, extreme heat and cold strike every year and cause power outages, some of which can last for days. In these cases, the store, the bank and in extreme situations, the faucet, won’t be of any help to you and your family; that is why survival gear is always beneficial.

Below are some components of the basic Emergency Preparedness Kit (as suggested by the American Red Cross):

Basic Supplies:

At a minimum, have these basic supplies in an easy-to-carry emergency kit that you can use at home or take with you if you must evacuate. Make sure to account for how many people are in your household.

1 Gallon(s) of water
one gallon per person, per day
Keep a 3-day supply for evacuation; a 2-week supply for home

Food
non perishable, easy-to-prepare items
Keep a 3-day supply for evacuation; 2-week supply for home

  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (a NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries (to power flashlights, radios and entertainment items)
  • First aid kit
  • Medications and medical items. Keep a 7-day supply of medications whenever possible.
  • A multi-purpose tool ** (several tools that fold into a pocket-size unit)
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items (such as toothbrushes, plastic bags, moist wipes, toilet paper, feminine supplies, etc.)
  • Copies of important personal documents.
  • List of medications and all pertinent medical information
  • Proof of address
  • Deed/lease to home
  • Passports/birth certificates
  • Insurance policies
  • Cell phone with chargers (your cell phone may be useful during an emergency)
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash ** (remember that ATMs may not be working if the power is out.)
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area
  • An easy-to-carry container to store these items

Additional Supplies for All Members of Your Household:

  • Medical supplies for others
  • Hearing aids with extra batteries
  • Glasses
  • Contact lenses
  • Assistive devices

Baby supplies

  • Bottles
  • Formula
  • Baby food
  • Diapers

Pet supplies 

  • Collar
  • ID
  • Carrier
  • Leash
  • Bowl
  • Picture of you and your pet
  • Two way radios
  • Car keys and house keys
  • Manual can opener

Disaster-Specific Supplies: 
(Consider additional supplies based on the types of disasters common to your area.)

  • Whistle
  • N95 or surgical masks
  • Matches
  • Rain gear
  • Work gloves
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home (gather what you will need to turn off utilities, etc.)
  • Extra clothing, a hat and sturdy shoes * (especially if you live in a colder climate)
  • Plastic sheeting/duct tape/scissors
  • Household liquid bleach
  • Entertainment items
  • Blankets or sleeping bags *

For a more comprehensive and specific list, you can visit www.redcross.org.

It is suggested that you replenish or replace your food and water supplies every 6 months to make sure that everything is still safely consumable. For a many emergencies we have a warning system, so just having the basics prepared, or all in the same general area will probably suffice.

Will you ever use this kit? Maybe, maybe not. Some of us live in parts of the world where it seems fairly unlikely that anything disastrous will ever happen. But one thing is certain: assembling your family’s Emergency Kit is the first and biggest step to being prepared.

Be Prepared: Emergency Lights

Emergency Lights for Your Home

Electricity is an integral part of our everyday life in North America. We can’t imagine life without electricity for a single minute. When a major problem occurs such as a storm, flood or earthquake, the first thing to go is usually electricity. To face such a situation we need to take some precautionary measures and always have our survival gear ready. Emergency lights will help you think on your feet in a situation that will need light to help you accomplish your job in taking care of your family.There are various types of emergency lights for home and some of them are detailed below:

  • Cyalume sticks are very useful in an emergency period. These are very easy to use and available in the market. It is basically a tube filled with glow-in-the-dark chemicals. When you require light, just bend the stick and shake, it will start to glow brightly. In earthquake situations cyalume sticks are considered to be the safest and most preferred (and cheap) emergency lights. Since they are non-flammable, they are considered to be less dangerous than other emergency lights as well. Cyalume sticks are not the most environmentally friendly product however, as they are meant for one-time use and cannot be disposed of easily, so use for only emergency situations is preferrable.
  • In most cases battery operated flashlights are useful except during earthquakes. During earthquakes flashlights can be dangerous. Always try to have LED bulbs for the flashlights. They last much longer than the ordinary bulbs. LED emergency lights consume less energy than the ordinary bulbs. Always use alkaline or lithium batteries. Alkaline batteries have twice the life of ordinary zinc batteries and lithium lasts four times longer. You should store at least 2 extra pairs of batteries and 3 bulbs for your flashlight. Ensure that the bulbs don’t get crushed; keep them in a safe place.
  • Candles are very conventional emergency lights. Store large 50-hour candles and opt for lighter or white candles. These light colored candles burn longer than dark colored. The best could be tallow candles. Tallow candles are relatively smoke free and burn brighter and longer than the wax candles.
  • Lanterns are another useful source of emergency lights. Propane or Coleman lanterns are good. Be careful during refueling and lighting the Coleman lanterns as the fuel is highly flammable. A propane lantern may be a safer option.
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