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Surviving the Cold With a Blanket

Emergency Blankets to Help With Surviving the Cold

I learned a lot when the abnormal chill in Texas happened in early 2021. Even in Texas, surviving the cold can be a real concern. One thing I wish I had was a heat source that didn’t rely on electricity. But when I did more research, I kicked myself in overlooking simpler, relatively low cost items to help deal with the cold weather.

I’m referring to emergency blankets designed and advertised to help retain around 90 % of your body heat. That’s pretty substantial. So, I purchased one. But, I was curious as to how effective it would be. I know subjectively when I tried it, it did feel like it was keeping me warmer than without it. But, I have a background in science and would like to get some actual numbers to support or refute my subjective feelings on the matter.

Would the Emergency Blanket Help With Surviving the Cold?

The blanket proved be able to effectively retain heat when subjected to the portable air conditioner. The air conditioner was set to 60 degrees, so this would test the ability to resist heat transfer from the surrounding air as well as heat retaining properties. A nice thing about the blanket is that it is thin and pretty inexpensive at the time of original purchase. It was around $15 in early 2021. Now, it’s approximately $20. Hooray for inflation! So, here it is for you to check out. As an Amazon Associate, commission may be earned for qualifying purchases.

You may be thinking “what gives?” Sure the quick, succinct review is nice and all, but how do you know the blanket really works? Well, the video below is provided to show you the experiment and its results. So worry not! In the section just above the video, there will be details on what specifically was done to produce the experiment and its results. This includes general details on the equipment used as well as the methods.. So, you get the blog to explain, and the video will show what’s going on.

  1. Up to 93% heat retention

  2. Durable and tear resistant

  3. Weather resistant against wind and water.

  4. Large and light weight blanket

Method to the Madness

The items used were a heated electric pad, a portable air conditioning unit, air temperature and humidity sensors, the emergency blanket, and a small cotton blanket. For each major test scenario, comparing the emergency blanket, the unprotected sensor, and the cotton blanket, there were two test conditions. One had sustained heat provided to the sensor by the heating pad and the other did not.

In each case, the sensor was approximately 3 feet from the portable air conditioning unit, and the unit was set to 60 degrees. The portable air conditioning unit was pointed at the sensor and allowed to run for 30 minutes. This was for each of the scenarios and their two parts. Now, it is really ridiculous to expect anyone to watch a 3 hour video just to see temperature change. That’s like watching grass grow or watching paint dry. So, the time of the test conditions were sped up by 3000%. This turned each 30 minute segment into a one minute segment. I’d say that’s far more palatable.

The sensor that is being directly subject to the cold air is read on the top part of the digital readout shown in the video. Sustained heat was included to help represent that human beings themselves produce heat. That gives us a sustained and not sustained heating condition for scenarios testing the emergency blanket, an unprotected sensor, and a double folded cotton blanket. I double folded the cotton blanket because I really didn’t think it could keep up otherwise. I think I will test it unfolded in the future and provide it as an update to this post.

Scenario 1

  1. Part 1: Emergency blanket with no sustained heat.

  2. Starting temperature: 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

  3. Ending temperature: 72.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

  4. Part 2: Emergency blanket with sustained heat.

  5. Starting temperature: at 98.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

  6. Ending temperature: 93.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Scenario 2

  1. Part 1: Exposed sensor with no sustained heat.

  2. Starting temperature: 98.1 degrees Fahrenheit

  3. Ending temperature: 63.0 degrees Fahrenheit

  4. Part 2: Exposed sensor with sustained heat.

  5. Starting temperature: 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit

  6. Ending temperature: 63.7 degrees Fahrenheit

Scenario 3

  1. Part 1: Cotton blanket double folded/layered with no sustained heat.

  2. Starting Temperature: 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit

  3. Ending temperature: 71.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

  4. Part 2: Cotton blanket double folded/layered with sustained heat.

  5. Starting temperature: 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit

  6. Ending temperature: 92.5 degrees Fahrenheit

Featured Video


It was clear that the emergency blanket was effective to help retain heat. What was surprising to me was how well the folded cotton blanket kept pace with the emergency blanket. I would have expected the cotton to allow for more airflow to get through, where the emergency blanket would not. Nevertheless, the cotton blanket only slightly under performed as compared to the emergency blanket.

A lot of lessons were learned from the 2021 Texas winter event. If cotton performs so well, I would be interested in seeing how the combination might help. While I’m reasonably sure that people bundled up in the cold weather and loss of power, I can vouched for still feeling cold. I would be curious to see how well heat was retained with a combination approach with the emergency blanket being the primary, lowest level blanket, combined with other blankets. It could make the difference should it be cold outside, you lose power, and don’t have an external heat source. Who says you have to use only one tool to weather an emergency?

While the blankets are a great addition to your prepping efforts, there’s always more preparation to be taken. Remember to go at a pace you can sustain, lest you put too much into what ifs and not enough into what you need right now. Extreme cold and winter storms are capable of putting you into the situation where you need your prepping tools. To help further your knowledge and prepping, here is a government resource for dealing with winter weather. A significant amount of emergency preparedness information is covered on this website. Check out this post for more information on improving your general prepping needs so you don’t need to panic buy.

New Year’s Resolution

It’s the new year. For those who make resolutions for the new year, let one of them be being better prepared for emergencies than in 2021. For those of you who don’t make such resolutions, I’d still say it’s an extremely good idea to be better prepared than you were in 2021. That’s especially if you have not given much thought to preparation. Even under the best of circumstances with outside providers, such as power companies, it’s unlikely thasome form of service interruption will never happen. You need to think about what that means for you and yours if the power is out for an extended period of time.

You won’t be able to prepare for every possibility. But that’s ok. Look at being prepared for the more “common” emergencies for your area. that helps you focus on where you will get the most bang for your buck. It’s winter right now. This morning in my part of Texas, it’s below freezing. If it can get that cold where I’m at, it can probably get that cold or worse for you. Give your prepping needs some thought today!

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