A Reason to Actually Use Emergency Blankets

If you read my review of the AMK Emergency Bivvy Sack you know I’m not a big fan of Mylar Emergency Blankets but the AMK Emergency Bivvy is awesome. Sure they’re cheap, small, and light but they are also just a square and not conducive to wrapping up or shelter building. Now I’ve found a reason to carry them anyway.

Reflective Heat Source

If you watch Dual Survival on the Discover Channel you know where I’m going with this.

In this episode Cody Lundin, of When All Hell Breaks Loose, used a Mylar Emergency Blanket as a heat reflector to warm up his shelter.

He managed to get his shelter to a smoking 70 degrees even though it was in the low 30’s outside. That’s some serious heating power and the mylar blanket was big part of that.

Mylar sheets are highly reflective and this is obviously a much better use of an emergency blanket than simply trying to wrap up and sleep in it. Build a fire and get your own heating system.

Get Some

So now you actually have a good reason to get some Mylar Emergency Blankets. On Amazon you can buy a 4 Pack for about $5.00 with free shipping or you can get a 12 Pack for about $15.00, also free shipping if you spend over $25.

More Unusual Uses?

Do you know of any other good unusual uses for Mylar emergency blankets? I like have multiple uses for everything in my pack.

74 thoughts on “A Reason to Actually Use Emergency Blankets”

  1. I used the Mylar Emergency Blankets when I was a kid in Boy Scouts on one of our snow camp outs. My feet were cold all the time and no matter what I did, I could not get my feet warm. So I took out my Emergency Blanket, cut a piece to the size of my foot, and put them in my boots. It's a bit of a chore getting them in the boots and it tears easily. But my feet were nice and toasty the whole trip…

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    • I am glad you posted the boot idea Rich, I would probably have never thought of trying something like that. I would like to know though, did you have it on the outside of your socks or inside? Supposedly these things work best when in direct contact with the skin.

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    • Plastic bag over socks forms a vapor barrier and can really boost warming power of your foot gear. Need to guard against overheating and sweating.
      a piece of aluminum foil cut to fit the inside sole of your boot/shoe will also have the same effect as the mylar insert. I have used foil, but not mylar, so I am not sure which is better. I suspect the mylar. Aluminum foil more durable. What about gluing the mylar to stif cardbord or Dr. Sholes type insert?

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  2. Cody did a great job using his resources – many people would look at the plastic and think "tarp" (overhead protection from precipitation) [or rain collection…] and the space blanket and think "blanket wrap" – he used physics to build a reflective wall for the radiated heat from the fire, angled it down (heat rises) and used the sheet to serve as a greenhouse wall.

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    • Yep. I think it's one of the coolest bivouac shelters I've ever seen. It was all the better because Dave didn't think it would work at all.

      And apparently it only uses 1/8th the wood to heat than you would otherwise need..haha. Cody said that at least 5 times.

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  3. that is somthing that some of my buddies in the military have tried and yes it does work but they used a ground mat as one. the army issues them they are woodland camo on one side and silver on the other.

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  4. Alternative Uses.

    Most involve wind/water-proofing:

    1) Add an additional barrier to an emergency shelter – It keeps out the wet, the wind, and can help reflect the heat in as demonstrated by Lundin. http://www.territorioscuola.com/youtube/view.php?… (not affiliated with this site)

    2) Provide a water-proof layer under you for sitting/sleeping on moist earth or snow, similar to the rubber pad used by Stroud of Survivorman.

    3) Wrap un-eaten food up in it for transport – any fluids in the food won't get on your gear (the stuff is almost like tin-foil).

    4) With a little well-placed duct tape, you can cut up a mylar blanket and use it to fashion water skins to hold drinking water.

    5) Emergency distress signal

    etc.

    YMMV

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    • Grypphon,

      excellent list!

      I especially like the food wrap idea. I'd want to use a fresh one straight out of the package.

      It's interesting you say that because a lot of preppers use mylar bags to store food long term (inside of buckets) It makes sense to do it in the bush too.

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  5. I don't like the mylar blankets at all. They are so fragile that a tiny prick from a branch or twig can cause them to shred. They are noisy, and difficult to handle. And, they are so small that you can't really wrap up in them. While this shelter apparently works, I wonder how many of those blankets Lundin tore up making it!
    I carry a real, quilted space blanket with grommets, and have made effective lean-to, reflective shelters with it. That part works. But I imagine any type of wind would negate the benefit of the mylar in Lundin's shelter. I also wonder if you could use a more durable plastic bag or sheeting instead of the mylar…looks like I have a new project for the next scout campout!

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    • Survival Sense,

      The reasons you listed are exactly why I called the article "a reason to actually use emergency blankets"

      Still, for about $1 and they weigh only a few ounces, for heat reflective qualities like that to supplement a shelter I'm happy to carry them. But I agree they are definitely a supplement not a full shelter.

      I've never had a heavy duty space blanket but sounds useful.

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    • Where did you get the quilted space blanket that you refer to, if I could ask, and what is the name of it. Brand and such. Any info. would be appreciated.

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  6. Best use is a solar still for water. Pull it over a whole in the ground full of just clipped living leafs etc and let'er drip! It works better than plan plastic or a tarp. However, I hate the things and won't buy them. I seem to find old ones at campsites every year hunting. Take it, cut it to fit a 2'x2' whole in the ground, duct tape the edges and put it in your back pack! That way it is free and will do what you need…btw…that little 2×2 square will also reflect heat for warming up food or for warming up you sleeping area if you are stranded on the bare ground. It doesn't take a big piece, it does take great placement!

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  7. Heat doesn't rise. In convection, warmer fluids rise relative to cooler fluids. In radiation, heat obeys the inverse square law, and it radiates equally in all directions until absorbed or reflected. The reason the space blanket was angled down is to direct the reflected infrared radiation from the fire into the living area.

    Still, that is one sweet shelter design. 🙂

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    • You are correct. I love the inverse square law because you can manipulate it! Another 1/2 blanket on the opposite side of the fire with a stick frame would have greatly increased the effectiveness of the fire for use in the shelter at almost no cost. He could have also built the fire against a dugout wall or stacked up a rock/wood barrier! Reflection and insulation are closely related.

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  8. I have used them to make radient heat cookers in the mountains in California. It won't boil water but it'll heat up food well and doesn't wast fuel or produce a potentially dangerous flame in dry areas. It was the came principle as the shelter only the sun provided the radient energy and you just found the sweet spot and set up your food there.

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  9. Cabella's has "space blankets" same idea heavier duty then the mylar. 12.99 red or OD green with reflective material on the other side. Not as light, but more durable.

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    • those are the same ones that my guys carry but they also make them in woodland camo on one side and silver on the other its kind of more like a ground mat instead of a blanket.

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  10. Im not sure If I can say post crash, but I can say valuable metals are certainly a decent investment.

    I have, or someone I know *wink* has a safe with bouillon coins(maple leaf, panda, britannica, koala and eagles), making up 50 ounces of platinum, 50 of gold, with a cumulative face value of 7500 Dollars give or take, but an actual intrinsic value of 130,000 dollars. If only it wasnt a crime to melt them down…

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  11. If society was to break down. It's gpnna be a dirty world. Alot of people will die of infections. So anti-biotic cream to treat cuts ,and pills for the flu and such should be at the top of your list. Dont forget clean bandages.
    For entertainment purposes , A laptop , extra battery and a solar battery charger. Back up your movies, music ,games to a external hard drive .

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    • for my roof in a made shelter I use a O.D. green poncho then i use ground materials to hide my shelter i even make a door to help hide my shelters.

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  12. I didn't think I'd like Cody when I was watching previews for that show. I have to admit I was completely wrong. Cody is da man. He even inspired to try a few barefoot hikes. I was completely impressed by him after watching the show. Bush hippies rock.

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  13. Are also VERY useful in desert situations. My daughter, her husband and baby broke an axle in the Sonoran desert. The emergency kit I made her included 2 emergency blankets and some heavy magnets. She opened the doors of the truck for ventilation and draped the emergency blankets over it – held down by magnets and some rocks. Drops the temperature by 15-20 degrees. Since she had 5 gals of water and blankets as well as a stroller to carry the water, they were able to walk to a ranger station when it got dark and cooler..

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  14. Well I tried one of those blankets a few months back and was not pleased at all, didn't get a lot of sleep due to being cold. I did see the episode where Cody used one as a reflector, it does in fact work well. Even in a pinch you can wrap one around yourself in front of a small fire and open it out like wings. Instant warmth, I have done this and it works well.

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  15. Not that anyone would be looking for you with a helicopter or satellite but… Another thing they are good for is to reduce or eliminate the IR heat signature that you give off when trying to hide.

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    • Yeah, mylar is used for lining the walls of indoor pot growing operations all over the country. It reflects the light from the bulbs back at the leaves and it helps hide the heat signature inside the building as long as there is a proper venting system as well.

      As far as hiding a persons IR signature, you can do that with just about anything as long as it isn't touching you. When I was in Afghanistan for the first time some kids used an old poncho tied to a frame to hide from the IR cameras so they could sneak up and steal the solar equipment powering the sensors on the fence. They didn't succeed but they got close before they were spotted.

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  16. I actually pulled the boot trick about a year ago, was using some trash bags as waders, and one sprung a leak. Got out of the water, foot was soaked, so I pulled on a spare sock, realized the boot was not getting dry anytime soon, and wrapped my socked foot in the mylar, then was all warm and dry!

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  17. Not quite as great as it seems. We tried the shelter he showed (plastic and reflective) and one with just a reflective lean to. Temperature was just below freezing, a fair bit of wind, and snowing. In principle, both shelters work well. However, you need A LOT of wood (collect at least 3 times as much as you think you'll need, and the fire needs tending all night. The trouble is, if you're in the shelter with the transparent plastic, you can't tend the fire without getting up and out, and once the fire is out, it's back to outside temperature before you can say "cold." And because the heat is essentially all radiation heat, where you don't really worry too much about the air temperature in both shelters, the lean-to is pretty much as comfortable as the other one. We ended up taking shifts of 2 hours to tend the fire, that worked out really well. So, yes, it works, but if you're solo and think you can just light the fire and then disappear in the tent and get a night's sleep at 70F – forget it.

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  18. The Mylar just seems so fragile to me…I don't like it. Plain out. I like using other more conventional, quieter, less noticeable things.

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  19. I am glad to see other people commenting onemergency blankets! I am not a huge fan of them either although I did really like what Cody did with one as a reflector. These blankets ( both the light weight mylar and the heavier "survival" blankets are really popular for BOB's and emergency preps and I doubt that most people who toss them in a BOB have ever tried to use one. Anytime you wrap yourself in a water tight barrier at night you are going to have to deal with serious condensation and these blankets will not let any moisture escape at all and it would be a long cold night if your clothes got soaked as a result. I experienced this first hand, now I would only use mylar blankets the way that Cody did to reflect heat.

    I

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  20. They are thin, they are loud, there are better products. That said, I keep a couple of 'em in every vehicle i own, trucks, jeeps, atvs, dirtbike (in the toolbag).

    After a winter off-road mishap, I used one to make a "long skirt" to keep my female companion's bare legs protected, and used another in conjunction with some rope to make a two-person rain poncho that i wrapped around the both of us. It was snowing, well below freezing and had been dark for a few hours by the time we made it to a local tavern, but she was dry and we were both relatively warm (especially considering her clothing choice and my extended time in the frozen river attempting to "unstuck" the jeep!)
    I have experienced hypothermia on two occasions, both times in highly populated areas with plenty of help around and warm clothing to change into. I can only imagine what it would be like to start turning blue in the high rockies, thanks in part to the mylar space blanket.

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  21. When desert camping always wrap coolers up in one. Makes the difference in contents lasting two days or five. For personal use, well they are called "emergency blankets" aren't they. If another option is available then use that! Why take the life boat if the ship isn't sinking?

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  22. I was watching the video of this guy using the emergency blanket as a heat shelter, has anyone else seen it? what was that clear fabric that was closer to the fire that let the heat radiate through so it could bounce off the blanket?

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  23. In the video on You Tube, Living Outside- A Documentary Cody talked about how his social life sufferd for years because he spent so much time in the woods and, he said," What woman woud want to live with me in my wigwam?" ARE YOU KIDDING? I think I am in love. Cody Lundin is the man! As a woman who has always loved nature and spending time alone in the woods, sleeping out under the stars, I could never think of anything better – until I laid on Cody Lundin.
    Hey Cody, where was your wigwam again?

    WHAT A MAN!!! AWESOME.

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  24. Soory gang buy personally I think Cody Lundin is a joke, and dual survival about as funny as some of these TV reality shows like Survivor. However using the mylar blankets in a survival kit is a good idea. I have actually used them in the past. As a SAR paramedic I always carry several in my pack. On a couple of occasions when we have located someone who had gotten lost and becaome hypothermic we have used a mylar blanket under a wool blanket or sleeping bag to help them retain body heat until we get them to medical care.

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  25. Personally, I love the space blankets. You can:
    1). Line the hammock and tarp
    2). Line the tent or tent floor
    3). Make a solar cooker
    4). Make a poncho
    5). Make a hotbox shelter
    6). Make a reflector for the fire AND your backside
    7). Make an evaporation still
    8). Make a rain collector
    9). Make a signal device
    10). Make a privacy wall
    11). Line your clothing with them
    12). Line your walls and ceiling to reflect heat during a power outage
    13). Make a bivvy bag within 1 minute with 2 blankets (use iron)

    I also am a huge fan of the reflectors that go in car windshields. At a dollar each, they actually have real insulation value in addition to reflective properties. They are much more durable and can be used as a sleeping mat as well. Work well as a rain cape too. Much easier to set up as a reflector near a fire.

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  26. My wife and I were caught in the middle of an Ice and snow storm, We barely made it yo a motel but before I went in I used my mylar blankets on the front and rear windows to keep the heat in and hopefully keep the ice off the windshields, People it worked like a charm in the morning it was very easy to knock off the snow and ice on the outside of the mylar blanket because it too repleled the elements by heating both sides , After that I removed the mylar and the windshields were clear and dry as a bone. If off the road this should be considered to maintain warmth in your car if using it as a shelter.

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  27. Someone might have already said this (hard to read all the complaints – what happened to Thrifty and Resourceful?), but laying it on your tent floor, under sleep pads, can be the difference between shivering and awake & comfy and sawing logs. Keeps the ground from sucking heat out of you & raises the inside temp of the shelter. Just a warning – you may roll out of bed a little earlier, as your tent will heat up quicker in the morning sun.

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  28. I can see uses for waterproofing insulating boots, roofs, you name it. I can see making a solar oven or dryer or in any application where you would want to direct heat to or away from you,( Solar shelter/shade in hard sun conditions.) As said earlier they would work for a solar still. I would also think they would work well as a marker device to aid air search teams in finding you in the wilderness. As I work in photography I can see uses as a light reflector. You could direct light where you wanted it. For the weight what have you got to loose?

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  29. As a challenge to my teenage boys I gave them a mylar blanket each, a folding saw and told them to build a suitable shelter. They built a fantastic lean to with a mylar and pine bough roof ,(mylar down first, then several layers of pine), then they used the second a a floor mat over about f inches of old brown pine needles. They slept out in it for two nights and stayed toasty warm with a reflector fire in front of the shelter. They are good for shelter insulation, but only if you have a fire or heat source. If you only have body heat they are only good for waterproofing a roof. Thanks for reading this.

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  30. I sent these with my boys on their "Survival Can" night (they could only use anything that could be stuffed in a coffee can) for scouts. They said they were useless as "blankets". I see people mentioning them for use with food and water but my boys came back with big silver splotches where the silver had rubbed off their blankets and onto their skin and clothes. Maybe I just got the extra cheap ones but I wouldn't want to use them for food or water unless I absolutely had no other option.

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  31. The word backpack was coined in the United States in the 1910s. moneybag and packsack were used before; they now occur mainly as regionalisms. The word rucksack is a German loanword mainly used in the UK and in the US Army: in German 'der Rücken' means 'the back' (the part of the body), and Sack for bag

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  32. I attended Cody's winter survival course and we made a version of this shelter. Outside the temp was 15F inside the shelter it was 85F on the floor and 115F near the "roof." This we did with a relatively small fire in front of the shelter. We had six in the shelter and the only complaint was, "It's TOO HOT." This shelter works. It was designed by Mors Kochanski up in Alberta and it works up there too.

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  33. When I was in the Army, I carried one of these in my belt gear. Idea was if I got separated / lost with just my belt gear, it might save me from hypothermia — and of course, as everyone else noted, they are very light and really cheap so who cares if I never need it?

    Well, I’d carried this darn thing for about 4 years when I got it out to help treat another guy with hypothermia. And guess what, nearly everywhere it touched itself it was stuck together. It was impossible to unfold it without ripping it to pieces.

    So if you have one of these things tucked away “just in case”, replace it from time to time!

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  34. When I was sent to Kuwait/Iraq, I wrapped the bladder of my camelbak with one of these blankets. It helped keep the water cool.

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  35. Weather proof a window. During the summer, I use magnets to hang an unfolded mylar bag across an older sliding glass door. It's 8 feet wide, 50 years old, and too expensive to replace for now. Before hanging the blanket, radiant heat through the window would heat up my living room 10 degrees hotter than the rest of the house. The space baq blocks the sunshine and saves my AC.

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  36. In the summer I tape them to some of my windows and then put the blinds down and/or close the curtains. They make a huge difference in the temperature. You can still see out of the windows, too.

    Last winter, I taped them on the outside top and three sides of my dog's kennel and then covered it with some heavy fabric to keep it from being too crinkly (and it looked better – not that the dog cared, of course).

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  37. I was working and suddenly I visits your site frequently and recommended it to me to read also. The writing style is superior and the content is relevant. Thanks for the insight you provide the readers!

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  38. I have used these emergency blankets for years as a ground cloth for my tent. They are lighter and cheaper than the ones you can buy with your tent. It also reflects some of your heat back on colder nights and keeps moisture from the ground coming up.

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  39. This seems to be a poor review of the camp fire, and not Mylar, lol! Might I suggest finding a few larger pieces of wood, like 10-14 inch diameter and 20-24 inch length.
    After the fire is going well add some of these bigger pieces and they will burn much longer than the twigs and branches, needing less frequent tending.
    Also denser woods, like Elm, will burn for a really ling time.
    I carry a saw in my pack ( a real saw, not a toy survival one) so that I can cut large pieces of wood.

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  40. The Mylar blankets are also good at hiding heat signature when being spotted by FLIR. You can't run around, but if you lay still and are covered well you have a much greater chance of avoidng detection than if you had squat.

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  41. I think the best use for them is to use them on a tension rod under draperies on the west side of the house in the summer. Reduces the solar gain in the windows by a huge amount. saves AC.

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  42. put one under your shower bag to heat the water faster. i wonder now if you can get to pasturization temps~ 165f for water sterilization? going to have to try that this summer.

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  43. I've used the single sheet mylar emergenccy blanket in one emergency and one "could have been". First was for a woman who crashed her car in a ditch in the middle of no where in the rain. The windows were broken so she was getting wet and with shock was shivering by the time I got to her (2 min). I put the blanket around her as best I could in a wildly tipped car and stayed with her for 1.5 hr before the fire dept. arrived. She stopped shivering after a bit and all was fine.
    Until you use one in that kind of situation, saying "I don't like them" is a bit mis-informed.
    I also used one myself after a hard Mtn bike ride in the rain. I was soaked, it was blowing about 20kts and then I started to decend. I was quite cold so I simply wrapped a e-blanket around my torso under my shell and in a few minutes with a little effort, was warm and toasty.
    The BIGGEST reason to use an emergency blanket is to educate yourself. Period. Yes they rip, figure it out. Yes they are hard to refold. And so on. There's a lot of negatives. But they are compact lifesavers if you find yourself in a tight situation.

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  44. To make the space blanket easier to attach bring a few neodymium magnets. You can then just clamp them together trapping the space blanket and the tarp together. No holes. Waterproof. Cheap. And you get to play with magnets when you’re bored !!

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  45. great information for all.

    I have a few mostly for as Chewy mentioned first responder situation as the world may not end but accidents will happen and I do not like to be helpless.
    I hate to get involved but if I am all there is I am going to do the best I can and prepared to do so.

    Never go anywhere that your not prepared for at least a day or so any vehicle is easy to stash a small bag of items.
    a multi car pile up can take hours weather can strand traffic for days I keep a gallon of water and a container.
    sometimes a case of bottled water your mileage may vary but I will risk a mile to the gallon to be ready for what comes.

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  46. I used the Mylar Emergency Blankets when I was a kid in Boy Scouts on one of our snow camp outs. My feet were cold all the time and no matter what I did, I could not get my feet warm. So I took out my Emergency Blanket, cut a piece to the size of my foot, and put them in my boots. It's a bit of a chore getting them in the boots and it tears easily. But my feet were nice and toasty the whole trip…

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