Rescue Blankets-Transmission and Reflectivity of Electromagnetic Radiation
Hall County Hospital, Milserstr. 10, 6060 Hall, Austria
Medical Division, Austrian Mountain Rescue Service—Tyrol, Florianistr. 2, 6410 Telfs, Austria
Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Medical University of Innsbruck, Anichstr. 35, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Coatings 2020, 10(4), 375; https://doi.org/10.3390/coatings10040375
Received: 19 March 2020 / Revised: 2 April 2020 / Accepted: 8 April 2020 / Published: 10 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multifunctional Coatings on Medical Devices)
Rescue blankets are medical devices made of a polyethylene terephthalate sheet coated with a thin aluminum layer. Blankets are used for protection against hypothermia in prehospital emergency medicine and outdoor sports, but totally different qualities are typical for these multi-functional tools. On the one hand, rescue sheets prevent hypothermia by reducing thermo-convection and diminishing heat loss from evaporation and thermal radiation. On the other hand, the sheets promote cooling by acting as a radiant barrier, by providing shade and even by increasing heat conduction when the sheet is in direct contact with the skin. As foils are watertight and windproof, they can function as vapor barriers and even as stopgap bivouac sacks. We evaluated three experimental studies, one on heat loss by rescue blankets according to surface color, one on transparency with ultraviolet radiation, high-energy visible light and visible light, and one on infrared radiation from rescue blankets. When evaluating the effects of different bands of the electromagnetic spectrum on rescue sheets, we focused on ultraviolet radiation (200–380 nm), high-energy visible light in the violet/blue band (380–450 nm), visible light (380–760 nm) and infrared radiation (7500–13,500 nm). Rescue sheets transmit between 1% and 8% of visible light and about 1% of ultraviolet B radiation (280–315 nm), providing sufficient transparency and adequate protection from snow blindness. Reflection of visible light increases detectability in search and rescue missions performed in good visibility conditions, while reflection of infrared radiation increases detectability in poor visibility conditions and provides protection against hypothermia.