Preparing for an EMP
An EMP, or electromagnetic pulse, is a sudden burst of electromagnetic energy that can damage or destroy the power grid and quietly wipe out unprotected electronic devices and systems in its path. An EMP can be caused by natural phenomena, such as solar flares or geomagnetic storms, or by human-made sources, such as nuclear weapons or specialized devices. An EMP can have devastating effects on modern society, especially if it targets critical infrastructure and communication networks.
Millions of lives could be lost through mass starvation, disease and societal collapse following an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.
Causes of an EMP
Also known as a solar flare, this natural phenomenon would most likely result in less damage but, with the right conditions and factors, is also capable of causing severe damage to infrastructure.
A man made nuclear detonation at high altitude can cause widespread severe damage to the power grid but have no radiation effects on the ground.
EMP Impact Factors
The pulse expands in a roughly circular pattern from the point of detonation so, at higher altitude, a detonation can have a line of sight to a larger portion of the earth’s surface, thereby affecting a larger area.
The intensity of the EMP (how strong the pulse is) at a specific location on the ground also depends on the yield of the explosion (how big the explosion is) and the design of the weapon.
When an EMP occurs, regardless of the cause, there won’t be an alert or notification this time. You will be left to figure it out on your own. Learning the signs can help you recognize and evaluate what’s happening so you can swing into action (see plan of action).
- You may notice a burst of light in the sky.
- All electricity goes out instantaneously.
- Electrical devices will cease to work.
- Cell phones, laptops, iPods, and other wireless devices stop working.
- Newer cars won’t start or will malfunction.
- Radio and tv stations stop broadcasting.
- If you are touching anything metal, such as your car keys, you may get scorched.
- Airplanes will very likely fall from the sky.
Places You Hope Not to Be
As horrible as it is to think about, there are places you don't want to be when the electricity goes off ... if it can't be turned back on. Here is a small list - enough to get the point.
- in an airplane or helicopter mid-flight
- in a closed elevator
- on an amusement park ride
- in the subway system
- locked inside a prison or jail
- far away from home
Supplies on Hand
The best way to prepare for an EMP is by having enough supplies to see your through what could be a substantial amount of time without electricity. Check out prepare your home for ideas on ways to shore up your home supply. Here are some of the supplies covered:
Having family plans allow you to plan for pontential grid-down scenarios ahead of time.
family communications - provides a back up plan if your family is separated when the electricity goes out.
home security - allows you to protect your home during what could be a very dangerous time.
away from home - helps to deal with emergencies at places you frequent.
cash on hand - gives you the cash you need when ATMs don't work and stores can only accept cash.
get back home - this is really a kit, but it gives you what you need to get home on foot if your car won't work.
The Faraday Cage
A Faraday cage is a hollow conductive enclosure that shields its contents from any incoming electromagnetic fields because the charge remains solely on its external surface.
Protection comes in the form of either a cage or bag. They come in different sizes and materials, and are both effective at blocking electromagnetic fields.
Faraday cage - is either a solid or mesh structure of rigid conductive material that can be portable or stationary.
Faraday bag - is a flexible, portable bag made of conductive textiles that is meant mostly for the protection of portable electronic equipment. Some are bigger and can house larger objects.
Items to protect
The goal is to protect items and equipment that are essential to survival and communications. Here are some suggestions.
- portable generator *
- communication devices
- external hard drive
- medical equipment
- other backup devices
- extra batteries
* One of the greatest threats to a generator with electronic components is a man-made EMP. Does your small generator have any electronic components? If so, store it in a Faraday cage or bag. Otherwise, it may become useless after an EMP.
Tip: Spend a weekend without electricity and see how well-prepared you are. Use the experience to help you better prepare not only with supplies you may have overlooked, but mentally and emotionally as well.
While everyone else is wondering what the heck is happening, you will be three steps ahead because you have taken the time to learn the signs of an EMP. When you do, do the following 3 things.
Unplug all devices & appliance
- Turn off all electronic devices and appliances and unplug all cords and wires from outlets and devices.
- The damage may already be done, but if not, this may prevent further damage from any subsequent surge of energy.
- It’s generally a good idea to keep devices unplugged until you’re sure that the risk has passed.
The water pressure will most likely weaken immediately then soon run out. Gather water quickly before this happens.
- Fill every sink, glass, pot, container and WaterBob in your home with faucet water (store one for each bathtub).
- Water will stop working immediately in apartments and multi-story buildings after the outage. Have your water supply ready to go.
Spend your cash
- Make a run to the store for more supplies - don't wait.
- Stores that can’t take debit due to lack of electricity, will probably take cash until they sell out of merchandise.
- Use it to buy shelf-stable supplies.
- Get in and get out - it will soon turn chaotic as more and more people realize the situation.
So Now What?
Things will turn chaotic very quickly outside your front door but things will also change dramatically in your home. Don't fear, you have prepared. However, there are some things you can do and also avoid that will help your family better deal with a long-term power outage.
- Use food in your refrigerator first then your freezer. When that has been used, begin using and rationing your shelf-stable food.
- Get your alternate forms of fuel and devices out of storage and prepare mentally for the shift.
- Stay inside and keep your doors and windows locked.
Things to do
- Use your generator but do not light up your house, even if you can. This will only attract attention.
- Don't grill outside. The smell of food will attract attention. and can put you in a dangerous position.
- Stay away from busy streets and crowds to avoid any chaos.