"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
July 29, 2015
Mylar Blankets: Not Just For 72 Hour Kits Anymore
by Carolyn Nicolaysen

You have seen many lists describing the items you should have in a 72 hour kit and they all include mylar blankets. They are cheap, small, and light weight making them a no-brainer for tossing into your kits, however, they are not the best protection against the cold and thus many in the preparedness community discourage their purchase. That is not the case for me. I say stock up!

Several years ago the power went out in southern California due to a transformer failure during a heatwave as the temperature hovered around 110 degrees. Our daughter called to let us know how miserable they were and to get some sympathy and maybe a little advice. I counseled her to get the mylar blankets from her 72 hour kits and to hang them in every window catching the direct sunlight. She had two sliding doors that fit that description and called me a short time later to tell me hanging the blankets had reduced the heat in their home and made a real difference.

On March 4, 2010 there was a rescue in the Sierra mountains in California of a man who had been lost while hiking and he had endured two nights in snow storms. When they found him he was waving his mylar blanket as a signal to the helicopter rescue party.

How can we benefit from a stash of emergency blankets?

Warmth -- Yes this is the obvious one so it is the best place to start:

  • Mylar blankets retain 80% to 90% of your body heat. This, and their compact size, make them the logical choice for a blanket in a 72 hour kit, auto kit, or when hiking. Remember to really use your blanket, tuck it under your feet, under your sides, pull it up to your chin. And remember much of your body heat is lost through your head so a blanket cannot keep you warm if your head is uncovered.

  • Using duct tape, tape 3 sides together and create a sleeping bag for a child. For an adult tape two blankets together. This will keep out any cold drafts which may get under a blanket.

  • Sleeping bag not warm enough? Line it with your survival blanket.

Insulation from the cold:

  • In a cold environment, either camping in a tent, during a power failure at home, or when stranded in your car, cover the walls with the blanket, with the shiny side facing inward. This will reflect the heat from a fire or even body heat, back into the space.

  • Tape the blankets to the moldings surrounding the windows in your home. This will create a pocket between the window pane and the blanket greatly reducing drafts.

Insulation from the heat:

  • At home, place the blankets in windows catching direct sunlight -- shiny side facing out. You will be amazed at the difference this can make in the temperature inside your home. Power outages do happen during heat waves too as the example above will atest!

  • In a tent lay the blanket over the top of the tent, thus reflecting the sun.

  • In a car place a blanket over the roof of the car and another one in any windows receiving the most direct sun.

In first aid kits:

  • Survival blankets are perfect to use when you are caring for a shock victim.

As a shelter:

  • Remember the victims of Hurricane Katrina as they were stranded for hours on the freeways after walking out of their flooded homes? Mylar blankets will reflect 99% of light and 90% of heat thus making them a perfect device to make a tent or lean-to to protect yourself from the sun, during an emergency, or even when changing a tire. I recently had someone suggest using an umbrella and draping the blanket over the umbrella for even more protection from the sun when walking or changing that tire.

Moisture barrier:

  • Mylar is moisture proof. This quality makes it a great protector. Lay the blanket on the snow before you sit down to rest and your clothing will remain dry.

  • Cut a slit in the center big enough to fit your head through and use it as a poncho.

  • Cut the blanket into squares large enough to wrap around your foot. Wrap the squares around your foot, on top of your socks and put your shoes back on. This will not only help to keep your feet warm but also dry.

  • Cut a triangular-shaped piece of the blanket to wear as a scarf on your head. This will help to keep you dry and also warm. Remember much of your body heat is lost through your head so always cover your head when you are trying to stay warm.

  • Place a blanket on the ground when you have to lie on the ground before you chain up.

  • Place under a sleeping bag to increase warmth and eliminate moisture.

Signaling device:

  • Because mylar reflect 99% of light rays it is perfect to signal rescue helicopters or airplanes. If you are stranded in the snow and the sun is shining, place one over the roof of your car. This will make it easier for rescuers to see your car, especially if the car is a light color. You can be creative and cut it into strips and make an arrow in a clearing pointing to where you are. You can even just hold it in your hands and wave it and the reflected light will be seen. If you need to crawl out onto your roof during a flood, take your mylar blanket with you. Wrap up. This will keep you warm and also reflect the lights of rescuers, making you more easily seen.


  • At the scene of an accident or when changing a tire, place a blanket over the trunk of the car or on a tree or post next to the road. This will make it easier for traffic to see you. This is especially true at night.

  • If you need to walk along a roadway after an accident or natural disaster, cut a strip from your blanket and tie it over your shoulder like a sash. You can also tie pieces around your legs or arms. These will all reflect and make it safer for you to walk.

Radiant heat:

  • If you have a fire either in a fireplace or outdoors, hang a blanket a few feet away from the fire. Place yourself between the fire and the blanket and you will benefit from the radiated heat.

Collect rainwater:

  • Since these are waterproof, you can line a bucket or bowl to collect water or even dig a shallow hole.. You can also lay them out at night to collect dew.


  • Heat a few rocks next to a camp fire. Place them in a circle and place MREs in the center. Use your mylar survival blanket as you would aluminum foil and "tent" the rocks and food. In a few minutes they will be ready to eat.

Added tip: Always store a roll of duct tape with your mylar blankets. It is best for adhering to mylar.

Survival blankets can only be used a limited number of times and they sometimes tear, but they are lightweight, compact, and cheap, and for all these reasons, it is hard to imagine a car, a boat, a home, or a backpack without one or two or several.

Join Carolyn on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TotallyReady

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About Carolyn Nicolaysen

Carolyn Nicolaysen grew up in New Jersey and joined the Church while attending Central College in Pella, Iowa. With a degree in Home Economics, she later worked as a high school teacher, and served as an elected trustee of her local school board. Carolyn has taught personal and family preparedness to all who will listen. Having lived in areas that were threatened by winter storms, hurricanes and tornadoes, and now living in an earthquake prone area, she has developed a passion for preparedness. Carolyn started her own business, TotallyReady, when she saw the need for higher quality emergency information that could truly sustain families in a disaster.

Carolyn is FEMA trained and is an Amateur Radio first responder. She serves as Relief Society president of her California ward.

Carolyn is the author of three ebooks, Mother Hubbard, What She's Doing Now (food storage for the 21st century), Prep Not Panic (preparing for a pandemic of medical emergency) and That Won't Happen to Me (a discussion of disaster preparations). She has also authored a glove box book, Totally Ready for the Road and writes a monthly newsletter and the Totally Ready facebook page.

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