Do Emergency Blankets Expire?

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Almost everyone with a car or a skill for outdoor sports has at least one emergency blanket in their possession. Many of us keep them around in case of an emergency that, only because we are prepared, never happens. So, we start to think about our emergency supplies. Do they expire? How long can they keep for? If it’s not food, does it stop working at all?

Do emergency blankets expire? Yes, they do, and therefore should be replaced. It is always a good thing to be over-prepared rather than under-prepared. Of course, being prepared is different for everyone. 

Some folks are fine with keeping old-fashioned, tried-and-true equipment on hand, and some of it is absolutely necessary. But what about emergency blankets? “How long?” is the real question here. Emergency blankets can last a long time, but if stored for extended periods of time, they can slowly lose their “bright and shiny,” which completely defeats their purpose.

How Long Do They Last?

This really depends on how long they sat in a store or warehouse before you bought them, where you store them, and if you’ve opened them up before. If kept unopened and unexposed to light, moisture, or heat, emergency blankets can last 1-2 years. Because of their storage, the exact date of expiration is difficult to pinpoint.

Any exposure to outside elements can potentially damage the mylar material, forcing the metallic coating to fade. It is unclear how this happens in sealed packages, but it certainly makes quite the difference.

How to Care for an Unused Emergency Blanket

The most important thing to avoid, as previously mentioned, is exposure to elements that are found outside cool, dry places. The best places to keep emergency blankets are cupboards away from potential heat sources, garages without moisture problems, and even some basements, given they are not damp or excessively warm.

Try to avoid storing emergency blankets (as tempting as it may be) in glove compartments, plastic totes in cars, attics, or anywhere near windows or household heating elements such as furnaces. Keep in mind that while readily available in these places, emergency blankets won’t hold up to the heat.

Where to Store Them

Instead of tossing them in the car, store your emergency blankets in places that will stay cool and dry. If you have a small cooler, you can store them in the car inside it, so as to prevent any exposure to sunlight and heat.  If you think your blanket was compromised, remember they are one of the cheapest pieces of emergency gear and can easily be replaced.

You should also avoid opening them up, even though they can be fun to play with and be tempting for kids to make forts out of. In this event, it’s probably best to toss them out soon after, as you’ll never be able to get them in their packages again, and they’ll begin to fade within a few days after being opened. 

Be sure to also avoid keeping emergency blankets where they can be damaged. Places such as purses and backpacks can toss them around and break apart the coating that makes the blankets work. Try to only put them in your bags before you take off; otherwise, they won’t last nearly as long.

When You Need Them

Instead of keeping emergency blankets in your stuff at all times (although if you replace them often this can be done), try to grab them on your way out to the mountains. You should always have an emergency blanket with you in these situations:

  • Hiking
  • Mountain climbing
  • Skiing/snowboarding
  • Surfing/diving (on-shore storage)
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Backpacking
  • Road trips
  • Safaris
  • Rafting
  • Ziplining
  • Skydiving

It’s also advisable to take them to sporting events, even if it’s just softball in the park. Emergency blankets are great for preventing shock after injury or trauma. Emergency medical transporters always have emergency blankets in their vehicles, so you can ask for them in case of emergency if they’re not given to you straight away.

Emergency blankets are absolutely practical to have in any situation where there might be an injury or emergency. Being stuck in the woods on a snowy slope is a great time to have some emergency blankets on hand, and a car accident on a road trip is a time to prevent shock.

Where to Buy Emergency Blankets

If you get to a point when you need to replace your expired or used emergency blankets, there are many places where you can find a good deal on them. If you need to buy them in bulk, there are great stores for that, too.

Most sporting goods stores and supermarkets carry emergency blankets. That being said, here are the best stores to buy emergency blankets:

  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • Walmart Supercenter
  • The Home Depot
  • Big 5 Sporting Goods
  • Amazon
  • Ebay
  • REI
  • Cabela’s
  • Bass Pro

You can also try many online retailers for buying them in bulk. Online stores such as eBay, Amazon, and even some outdoor sporting goods stores will sell them by the case. Since they cost so little, it may be wise to purchase many if you often partake in outdoor sports.

What are The Best Emergency Blankets to Buy?

For emergency blankets to last to their full potential, they should be quality. Poor quality mylar isn’t nearly as effective as high-quality mylar, so choosing the right supplies for your preparedness is important.

When shopping for the right emergency blankets, you should be sure to read the reviews on them. Most consumers will volunteer their experiences with products to advise future shoppers about the products, so it’s easy to find out what kind of quality an emergency blanket is based on these testimonies.

Some of the best emergency blankets on the market today include brands such as Swiss Safe, Heet Sheet, and Go Time Gear. These brands offer high-quality mylar blankets that live up to their expectations as promoted by their consumers. Stories in reviews for these products include adventures on mountaintops, through vast jungles and even some EMT horror stories.

Reading the reviews can tell you how thin the material is, how long they last in their sealed packages, and of course, how well they hold up once they’re in use. Remember that on some websites and in most stores, you can ask questions about the integrity of the products.

The Miracle of Mylar

Emergency blankets can be used for more than just regulating personal body heat. They may be great for preventing shock in marathon runners and trauma patients, but they’re also useful for surgical patients, astronauts’ space suits, and even by builders as insulation in the walls. You can even find mylar in spacecraft.

The use of the material used to make emergency blankets, mylar, is so widespread in today’s industries that it can be found in just about every building around you. It was even used to launch the first-ever satellite into space. Mylar has even been used in old-fashioned photography. The uses are literally endless.

In case you don’t need an emergency blanket to stay warm on your hike in the woods, keep it on you out there just in case you need some shelter. It’s also extremely useful to use in alerting rescuers to your whereabouts. It can be made into a lean-to, poncho, and many other lifesaving items you may need.

Don’t forget that the most important thing about emergency blankets is to keep them where they won’t expire sooner than they should and that emergency blankets should be replaced every 1-years depending on your region. Stored correctly, emergency blankets will have your back when you need them most. 

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