Survival blanket

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How to choose the right survival blanket?

First of all, what is a survival blanket?

The survival blanket plays a crucial role in preserving life in various circumstances. It is made of a waterproof, thermally insulating material, initially designed to prevent hypothermia in an accident victim. But its usefulness doesn't stop there. In fact, this blanket offers effective protection against external elements such as wind, rain and snow. As such, it is an indispensable safety feature in emergency situations. Generally made from a lightweight, hard-wearing material, it is capable of retaining up to 90% of body heat, thus maintaining warmth for the thermal comfort of the individual requiring help.

However, the survival blanket has several applications. Thanks to its reflective properties, it can be used as a signaling device to attract the attention of rescue teams. It can also be used to a limited extent as a rain poncho or improvised stretcher. Nevertheless, its main role remains that of providing assistance to anyone involved in an accident, whether during a night out or other outdoor activities.

A versatile and indispensable tool

In addition to its primary function in emergency situations to prevent hypothermia, the survival blanket offers a wide range of applications during outdoor camping activities. For example, it's commonly used as a ground mattress to protect against uneven ground when bivouacking under the stars without a tent. Some people also transform it into an improvised tarpaulin, creating a waterproof roof for the night. Its effectiveness as a windbreaker is also enhanced in this application.

The survival blanket also proves versatile in other contexts. It can be used as a waterproof bag, as a sunshade in a car or at the beach, and even as insulation for a sleeping bag during a bivouac. Amazingly, it can also be used to collect water by condensation.
Clearly, the survival blanket's extreme lightness and compactness make it extremely functional in non-emergency situations. There's no doubt that there are many other possible uses when camping. Its versatility should not be underestimated, offering a wide range of solutions for a variety of outdoor needs.

During your outdoor activities, whether camping or any other outdoor adventure, it's imperative tosystematically include a survival blanket in your equipment. Why is this so important? First and foremost, this blanket plays an essential safety role in the event of an emergency. It provides rapid, effective insulation for an injured person, helping to maintain body heat in cold environments, or conversely, to prevent the risk of overheating or sunstroke in hot weather.

What's more, it's worth noting that this blanket is affordable and space-saving, which eliminates any obstacles when it comes to transporting it. As already mentioned, its versatility in a variety of uses is remarkable, further enhancing its appeal. As a result, there's absolutely no reason to go without a survival blanket on your outdoor adventures.

The different types of survival blanket

Two main categories of survival blanket are available: reusable and single-use models. However, it's important to note that regardless of the type, each survival blanket has two distinct sides: one retains heat while the other keeps cool. The choice between the two will depend primarily on your specific requirements, as well as your budget. Let's take a closer look.

Non-reusable

These are the survival blankets most commonly adopted by hikers and trekkers. They are generally made from mylar, a material also used in space blankets. They are characterized by their extreme thinness and lightness, but remain fragile because they are made of a simple film. As their name suggests, they are designed for single use, and are intended to be combined with other garments. Their durability is therefore open to question. Nevertheless, their small size and modest cost (generally less than €5) are undeniable assets for all bivouac enthusiasts, whether novice or experienced.

Reusable

Reusable survival blankets are also made from a sturdy material such as mylar, but are slightly thicker and weigh slightly more than single-use models. This increased robustness makes them more durable, enabling repeated use in a variety of circumstances. When handled with care each time, they can last for many years.

The bivy

Generally adopting the configuration of a sleeping bag, the Bivy Bag is actually a thicker, more insulating version of a simple survival blanket. As a result, it offers considerable efficiency and performance in emergency situations, but at a higher cost (from €20 minimum). With its appreciable versatility, it is often chosen by hikers who prefer ultra-lightness to comfort, and is commonly used as a sleeping bag or overbag. Although not strictly a survival blanket, the Bivy Bag nevertheless excels in this role, offering a significant level of comfort and performance.

How to use a survival blanket

In an emergency situation, a person tends to feel the cold. To preserve body heat as much as possible, it's crucial to quickly provide a survival blanket to reduce and stop heat loss. It's important to note that the thinner or lower-quality the blanket, the more layers of clothing will need to be added to optimize its effectiveness. However, care should be taken not to over-tighten the blanket around the sick or injured person, so as not to alter its properties.

The positioning of the blanket will depend on the specific needs of the person concerned. It is therefore crucial to pay attention to the different faces of survival blankets, as each fulfils a particular function. In general, if you place the silver side inwards, it will protect against hypothermia (heat loss), while if you turn the gold (or orange) side inwards, it will offer protection against hyperthermia (heat stroke).

So, to counter the cold, the golden side of the blanket should face outwards, while the silver side should face inwards. If heat is needed, the silver side should face outwards. So, if you're unsure about your blanket, be sure to refer to the instructions for use before setting off on a hike or trek.
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