What Is An EMP and Should I Be Concerned About One?
So what is an EMP?
If you were to look it up you would find according to Dictionary.com an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is a burst of electromagnetic energy produced by a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere, considered capable of widespread damage to power lines, telecommunications, and electronic equipment.
But that’s not all. It can also occur naturally from space in addition to being generated deliberately using nuclear weapons.
Yikes! You don’t have enough to worry about.
Welcome to the deeper side of Emergency Preparedness. But don’t despair too much, it’s generally easy to protect your critical personal electronics from an EMP. But let’s get a little scarier.
What Is An EMP Attack
Not too long ago Forbes Magazine reported that China has ‘First-Strike’ capability to melt the U.S. power grid with an Electromagnetic Pulse Weapon.
There are nations, including reported sponsors of terrorism, that may currently have the capability to use an EMP as a weapon for cyber terrorism to disrupt communications and other parts of critical and vulnerable U.S. infrastructure including the power grid and your personal electronic devices.
How easy did that winter storm knock out the Texas power grid?
According to the Center for Strategic International Studies, China has the most active ballistic missile development program in the world, so this is doubly troubling. China used stolen U.S. technology to develop at least three types of high-tech weapons to attack the electric grid and key technologies that could cause a surprise “Pearl Harbor” attack that could produce a deadly blackout to the entire country. Forbes
Also as of this writing we are entering a solar cycle that occurs periododicly. During these times of increased solar activity there are instances of solar flares or geomagnetic storms that represent naturally occurring EMP’s.
Many people believe that this is hysterical thinking and that these EMP things do not exist. But EMP is real. They could materialize via extreme solar disturbances or they could be man-made. A thermonuclear detonation or a cyberattack can bring about an EMP.
Now China denies it would ever use them. But why develop them. And the sun is pretty far away so why worry. Who is going to stop one of those solar flares anyway? You?
What Is An EMP Protection Device
So as the Federal Government and the Department of Defense are upping their concerns about possible EMP’s and enacting more protective measures, what about you and me?
Well, it just so happens that there is a protection device that can help you protect an electronic device or two, or three. And it’s called a Faraday Cage.
A Faraday ‘cage’ creates a barrier between the internal components of a device and the external electric fields. That dreaded EMP burst.
Now there are companies out there that design and build some fancy Faraday Cages that I believe go above and beyond my cost threshold and in my opinion a little bit overkilled.
A Faraday cage may be a simple construction of an insulated box surrounded by metal such as an old microwave oven to protect your electronics from various forms of electromagnetic transmissions including EMP’s.
So to save you some time, money, and your microwave, and so as not to turn you off on the whole thing, I found this:
Protecting Equipment From An EMP Attack
How much equipment you protect from a solar attack or an act from another country or faction and to what degree depends on your personal level of concern and your judgment of the crisis at hand.
Due to the fact that we are currently at the beginning of another solar cycle, and our bickering with other nations, the threat level will only increase, so it may be worth giving this some serious thought.
And here’s a case in point. An electronic device can be harmed by an EMP even when the power is off! Don’t for once think that all devices have to be in the on position to be susceptible to an EMP.
I used to make fun of my mother-in-law for pulling out all the plugs of her devices when not in use. Let’s say she was ahead of her time. It just so happens that the easiest way to protect a lot of equipment is not only to turn it off but also unplug it.
Especially unplug it.
That EMP burst will travel through the whole grid and will not stop at your neighbors’ houses.
What to Protect in a Faraday Cage
This can be a pain to the brain. Every day storing, then un-storing things like cell phones and laptops that you use all the time from a dedicated spot can get a bit annoying very quickly.
But if you are going to go through the trouble, there are some items you should consider to protect in a Faraday Cage. In other words, have something you are not using now in the cage at all times.
Such as an old cell phone. A better idea is to have an inexpensive pay-per-minute phone stored away.
Next time you replace that laptop or tablet, don’t throw away the old one save it under that Faraday cage.
A flashlight or two would not be a bad idea either. Not because an EMP will knock it out but because you will know one is there. An EMP will knock out the power grid. no lights for you.
Portable AM/FM radio would be another thing to consider. Emergency broadcasts might still be on the air in addition to local news broadcasts and you should be tuned into them.
Without a power grid, you will need something to recharge your protected devices. Fortunately, there are solar power bank devices that you should have on hand. In fact, you should have one of those now anyway.
It does not take an EMP to knock off the power grid. You never know when you will need one.
Think of what you don’t want to live without. Within reason. Don’t go trying to protect that gaming computer. You have your own survival game to play now.
If you feel it’s critical to your survival, think about how to store it in a Faraday Cage or improvise some kind of EMP shielding based on the concept.
What Happens After An EMP
I think an EMP is one of the hardest things to prepare for. You will not see it coming such as bad weather or a forest fire. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, you know, or I hope you should know, how to be prepared.
But an EMP? Even if you know what an EMP is, it will come out of left-field, without warning, regardless of where you are living.
Think of how people were living before electricity. Before cell phones, computers, or even the taken for granted TV. Cars. That’s right. Even your car will not work.
All electronics will be down and out.
And here is something really scary. I read that without electricity, it is estimated that more than 75% of the population will die.
You will have to know how to live like our ancestors. Good thing for us that was not too long ago so as to be a lost art.
Nor will be lost on you because you’re here asking questions such as what is an EMP and how will I survive without electricity.
It will be all about having simple on-hand supplies that an EMP will not affect. And they are all simple things you should already have on hand.
Prepping Supplies For After That EMP
It’s all quiet. No electronics. No cars or trucks. No supermarkets getting supplies. Gas stations are useless because anything using gasoline needs electronics to start and they are toast.
Even your generator.
Dial-up your ancestors. Don’t worry, they didn’t have phones either.
First things first.
Food and water. You gotta eat and stay hydrated no matter what.
Your fridge is not working (neither is that generator). As a prepper, you should have food that will help you out in this situation. Canned foods such as meat and vegetables, jarred such as peanut butter, rice, dried beans are all foods that you should have put aside for any crisis.
Water is not running out of that faucet anymore so you should be prepared for that. Learn how to purify it because you might be getting it from lakes and rivers. Learn how to collect rainwater.
Blankets, Warm Clothes, and Matches An EMP is not a seasonal happening.
Any time anywhere. and a worst-case situation is in the dead of a very cold winter. You have to stay warm. and most people rely on electricity to generate heat. Staying warm in your house can be a problem and a safety issue if you are not prepared properly.
Be sure to have plenty of blankets and warm clothes for you and the family and also have a way to safely generate heat using those matches or a saved lighter.
Candles are a forgotten must-have in a situation like this. Not only are they EMP-proof, but they will also provide light and a small amount of heat. Only if you did not forget to store some matches.
Pain killers and personal medications will be in short supply after a crisis like this if they are available at all. Think about always having a stockpile of these needed items in addition to a well-stocked first-aid kit.
Personal Hygiene Items We are not animals yet. Your electric blowdryers and razors will not be working but you should not have an excuse as to why nobody wants to get within 15 feet of you.
Soap, shampoo, old-fashioned handheld razors, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, deodorant, laundry detergent, dishwashing soap all go a long way to helping stay approachable.
Do not forget toilet paper. Have some stored away always. (you should have pandemic experience by now)
Tools Basic, non-electronic tools and knowing how to use them will be invaluable in this situation. If you do not have basic tools in your garage now you are doing making crisis handling all the harder.
Have on hand a good survival knife, axes, hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, and the hardware that might be needed such as nails, screws, and some nuts and bolts.
Remember that handyman of yours will not be around anytime soon. His truck won’t start.
Cash Nothing says ‘can you help me out’ better than cash. Providing the economy did not collaspe. But you should always have some on hand. Before the ATM stops working because of a power outage due to an EMP burst.
It will always have some value to someone. But if you see the writing on the wall, spend all you can on needed supplies while you still can. Let someone else use your cash to start a heat-generating fire.
Should You Prepare For An EMP?
In this day in age, we seem to be looking over our shoulders trying to survive everything from pandemics to economic collapse, and shady politicians.
It’s difficult for me to add something else to the list for myself and you.
But it is important is to understand the threat of an EMP and the concept and protection of a Faraday Cage. You should see if you can design and use one that makes protection of your personal electronics easy to do and at the least can make your life a little easier to live in that type of crisis.
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