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Electromagnetic Pulse Threats: How to Prepare for an EMP Attack

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

While some believe the threat of an EMP attack isn’t worth the energy, others are convinced it’s as real as the threat of a nuclear winter during the height of the Cold War. Whether it will occur or not, an EMP attack can do serious damage to our modern lives. 

As a survivalist, you want to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Read on to learn how to prepare for an EMP attack in the case that it does occur. 

What is an EMP? 

EMP is an acronym for electromagnetic pulse. This pulse can cause unintended electricity to flow through conductors along its path. Currently, we know about EMPs through bolts of lightning, nuclear explosions or similar EMP weapons, and solar storms.

Electromagnetic pulses are classified into 3 categories by scientists from the Electrotechnical Commission (IEC):

  • E1: This is an intense pulse that lasts only a microsecond from a nuclear blast or other EMP weapon.
  • E2: This is slower than an E1 – you can think of it as a bolt of lightning. It’s the easiest category to protect against.
  • E3: This pulse is the slowest and can last minutes, hours, or days. This is found in CMEs (coronal mass ejections) from our Sun during long-duration solar flares and filament eruptions. Although the sun releases CMEs often, they’re usually pointing in a direction that doesn’t affect Earth.

The Largest Threat

As you can see, E3 EMPs are the largest threat. While nuclear EMP attacks are possible, the probability is very low. Few militaries have the resources available to make a nuke large enough and high enough to even travel to the United States, and even less capability to get one through our airspace undetected.

Solar EMPs, on the other hand, are more likely. The Carrington Event, a geomagnetic superstorm in 1859, was so powerful that telegraph operators couldn’t touch their equipment without being shocked. 

It’s only a matter of time until another solar storm happens again, and our modern electric grid still isn’t equipped to handle it. 

1. Protect Your Electronics 

In the unlikely event that an E1 EMP attack does occur, the biggest threat is to our electronics, as the human body won’t be affected. These have the potential to stop working: 

  • The electrical grid
  • GPS systems
  • Cell phones
  • Landline telephones
  • The Internet
  • Vehicles
  • Radios 
  • Flashlights

Preparing for an EMP event means finding efficient ways to protect your vehicles and electronics. Since many of our devices rely on local or national systems, a lot of this protection is out of our hands. However, there are some devices still worth protecting: 

  1. Emergency Radios: You still have the chance of accessing national networks if a massive EMP takes down only local radio communications. 
  2. Generators: These are used for emergency power backup. 
  3. Your Vehicle: These can be imperative for a successful bug-out plan.
  4. Off-grid systems (solar panels): Solar power gives you independence from the electric grid, but to keep it functional you’ll need to protect all of the circuitry. 

Faraday Cages

A Faraday cage is a sealed enclosure with an outer layer of conductive material and an inner layer of non-conductive material. It’s able to reflect and absorb EMPs, making it one of the most effective ways to protect your small electronics and small generators.

If you have solar panels, the easiest foolproof protection is to purchase duplicate electronic parts and store them in a Faraday cage.  

You can either purchase one or make your own, which usually requires aluminum tape and insulation. 

EMP Bags

An alternative to Faraday cages is an EMP bag. A good EMP bag will have shielding of 80dB or more – anything less isn’t likely to protect your electronics effectively. However, you also have the option of double-bagging two 40db EMP bags for adequate protection. 

Snap-On Ferrite Cores

Besides upgrading your garage so it acts like a giant Faraday cage, snap-on ferrite cores are another option for protecting a vehicle from small EMP blasts. They go over your car’s wiring to act as a shield. For the best protection, choose ferrite cores made from type 61 ferrite.

2. Stockpile Your Supplies

You should have at least 30 days of supplies stockpiled, with water as your first priority. This should be followed by food items, then first aid, then other items such as candles, blankets, and sleeping bags.

It’s important to know what’s an emergency essential and what isn’t, so make sure to do your research in advance. 

Ready.gov recommends stockpiling 1 gallon of water per person per day for three days. 

Good foods to stockpile can be eaten as-is with long shelf lives. This can include:

  • Dried fruits and veggies
  • Jerky
  • Protein bars
  • Salt and sugar
  • Coffee and tea
  • Powdered milk, and instant drink mixes with vitamins
  • Herbs and spices
  • Honey
  • Canned soup, fruits, and veggies
  • Canned fish, meat, and beans

Stockpile food and water away from sunlight and heat. If you’re storing your water in plastic jugs, it’s a good rule of thumb to rotate your water supply at least once a year because chemicals in the plastic can affect the water’s taste. An easy way to do this is to write the date on each jug and replace them accordingly. 

3. Create an Emergency Plan

It’s important to have a plan in the event of a disaster. Questions you should answer are:

  • Where will you go?
  • How will you get there?
  • What will you take?
  • How will you get in touch with loved ones?
  • How will you stay informed about the situation?
  • How will you handle food, water, and hygiene when you’re trapped in your home?

How to Prepare for an EMP Attack: Prepare for the Worst

As you can see, how to prepare for an EMP attack is much like preparing for any kind of disaster situation. There are many unknowable variables, so it’s important to prepare for the worst, but still keep in mind the realistic chances of your electronics and life being affected. 

Keep reading our articles to stay ahead of any kind of disaster that may strike! 

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