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Thermal blanket - NRC foil. How does it work and what is it necessary for?


The thermal blanket, also known as  NRC foil  (after the name of the National Research Center in the USA where it was created), is one of the most basic elements of equipment of every rescue medical team. It has a very important task - maintaining body temperature and protecting the body against hypothermia or overheating. No conscious tourist or survival enthusiast should forget about it - during demanding expeditions taking place in difficult weather conditions, it can prove to be an invaluable help.

Rescue foil  – how does it work? 

As we have already mentioned, the NRC foil is designed to either cool or warm the body of the person who requires help. However, it does not matter which side of the foil is wrapped. For convenience, the thermal blanket has different colors on both sides - gold and silver. If you want to prevent overheating, wrap yourself or the injured person in foil so that the silver side is on the outside, as it effectively reflects sunlight and isolates the body from other heat sources. When you need to warm up, you need to wrap yourself in a thermal blanket as tightly as possible with the silver side on the inside. It is also important to ensure proper insulation from the ground. 

Rules for using  a thermal blanket

A thermal blanket is a single-use product, especially if it is used during a rescue operation when the injured person is injured and the foil may contain remnants of blood, body fluids or other types of contamination. However, there are situations when it can be reused. If it is used only for heating, e.g. during a mountain expedition, when weather conditions change dynamically and it may suddenly become very cold, then once it has served its purpose, it can be folded and used again, but it must be taken into account that in contact with rocky ground, it may be torn or damaged. Nevertheless, it is best to have a new, unused thermal blanket with you, especially since its purchase costs only a few or a dozen or so zlotys. Moreover, it is an easily available product and can even be found at gas stations. If we use NRC foil to provide first aid to a person who has had an accident, we must also remember the general rules applicable in the event of such emergency events. The body must be covered quite tightly with foil, but the position of the injured person's body must not be excessively interfered with, so as not to further harm it.

Other possibilities of using a thermal blanket

The primary role  of NRC foil  is to provide safety and optimal assistance to people exposed to hypothermia or overheating, but its application possibilities do not end there. It is worth having it always at hand, as fans of extreme bushcraft and survival expeditions especially know. A thermal blanket takes up very little space in a backpack, and its importance for ensuring safety in many unexpected situations is invaluable. Although it looks inconspicuous, it is actually very durable. In addition to the fact that it can cool or warm us, it can also be used as the so-called last chance shelter. If, for example, the hike is unexpectedly prolonged and the nearest shelter is still very far away, you can create something like a hut out of NRC foil. Just throw the blanket over the rope attached to the trees to create a sloping roof, remembering that the silver side is closer to the body. The entire structure must be as close to the ground as possible to minimize heat loss. If we do not have  a sleeping pad  or another type of mattress that could isolate us from the cold ground, it is worth looking for branches nearby, preferably coniferous ones.

Additional protection against rain

Heavy rain can make life very difficult during a survival expedition or a regular weekend mountain hike. If we do not have high-quality, specialized clothing that provides effective protection against getting wet, a thermal blanket can be a real salvation. You can wrap it around yourself, or - although this is not entirely recommended - cut a hole for your head about halfway through its length, thus creating something like a cape.

The thermal blanket ensures visibility

Due to the fact that the NRC foil has bright colors and the sun reflects intensely from its surface, it can easily guide rescuers or other people rushing to help to the place where the person waiting for help is located. Emergency services often use NRC foil to mark accident scenes, so this is the best proof that it works perfectly in this role.

It will increase the comfort of sleeping in the tent

Even the greatest enthusiasts of sleeping in  a tent  do not like it when they wake up in the morning to incredible stuffiness and heat. The interiors of tents heat up quickly, especially if they are set up outdoors rather than in the shade. However, it is enough to place a thermal blanket on them to significantly reduce this undesirable phenomenon. As you can see, NRC foil is a small item that can be useful in many situations, including everyday ones. It is worth remembering it whenever we plan an outdoor adventure.



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