Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP). Its impact on society.

Podcast Episode 042121

Published on April 21st, 2021

The story I am to relay is the absolute worst-case scenario but does recognize the real-world theoretical possibility. Now, I’m going to say outright, that the chances are so highly unlikely that I doubt it’s measurable. Many of you might say the preparedness I’m going to retell is an absolute conspiracy theory. Technically, your 100% accurate. However, while we are going to discuss a particular event, the underlying principles apply to multiple situations. The facts will become clear, however, the necessary preparedness is really what I want to pass on. With all that said, you’re relaxing at home in your lazy boy watching Thursday night football. In the blink of an eye, the lower half of the TV explodes, shooting Sparks, and shards of molten plastic in all directions, as the lights go out throughout the whole community. You instinctively reach for your cell phone on the end table next to your chair, and the screen is bulging from the inside and it’s still hot to the touch. An immediate sense of dizziness comes over you with a slight queasiness felt in the belly. Smartwatches, iPads, digital thermostats, and security systems all instantly fried. Then, instants later the rumble of, which seems like, far away thunder and a rattle of the windows. It’s dark, you have absolutely no light, or source to make light, batteries exploded, or dead. The overwhelming odor of burned electronics, potentially leading to small fires throughout your home. This would be the immediate effect of an E1 EMP within 400 miles of your home, exploding at 300 miles above the earth. Now, while this is an extreme demonstration of how our society, and each of us, is so dependent on technology, the take-away I hope to pass on, is it is survivable.

Greetings to all my friends (new and old), family, fellow Alaskans, and fellow Americans, wherever you are. Welcome to the Alaska Outlaw podcast, I am the Alaska Outlaw, in today’s show, I’d like to talk about the impact of an electromagnetic pulse or EMP. A lighter electro-magnetic pulse, such as an E3, technically could actually occur naturally, but the E1, or grand-daddy of them all, can only be created by a fairly powerful nuclear weapon detonated at a much higher elevation within a measured distance.

There are three levels of EMP, E1 real bad, E2 not good, E3 a minuscule fraction better. The whole idea behind an EMP is fairly simplistic, it overloads the circuits by bombarding the area around us with pulses of energy. To this end, what would an E1 EMP feel like for you and I? 

SEPTEMBER 12, 2012


Our country is dependent on electricity to power our health, financial, transportation, and business systems. If our power system was ever lost for an extended period, according to Dr. William Graham, the chairman of the EMP Commission, it would have catastrophic and lethal consequences for our citizens and the economy. It would also potentially degrade our military defenses.

Computer simulations carried out in March 2010 by Oak Ridge National Laboratory demonstrated that an electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear device detonated at a high altitude or a powerful solar storm could destroy or permanently damage major sections of our national power grid. According to this Oak Ridge study, the collapse of our power system could impact 130 million Americans could require 4 to 10 years to fully recover, and could impose economic costs between $1 trillion and $2 trillion.

A portion of a course from Stanford University written by Spencer Rogers in February 2019

In a recent assessment on the risks associated with an EMP, the Electromagnetic Defense Task Force (EDTF) of the United States Air Force noted that that the occurrence of an EMP could have dire consequences for society as a whole and that, as of the report’s release, the U.S. government has failed to mitigate the consequences of such an attack. [2] The U.S.’s concern over an EMP attack traces back to the Cold War, where the U.S. worried that the Soviet Union might look to knock out military communications and national command authority through an EMP attack generated by a high-altitude nuclear weapon, therefore eliminating the U.S. military’s ability to respond to a nuclear attack. Though the U.S. military has taken steps to ensure that they would maintain national command authority and be able to operate after an attack, the U.S. government has failed to properly protect the electric grid and other critical infrastructure from the existential threat of an EMP attack. [2]

A successful EMP attack on the U.S. could lead to a nationwide blackout of the electric power grid and a shutdown of critical infrastructure reliant on the grid, including, but not limited to, communications, transportation, food and water supply, and sanitation. Such a shutdown could last as long as a year, and without such critical infrastructure, a large fraction of America could die from starvation, disease, or the effects of general societal collapse. Furthermore, in a worst-case scenario, all nuclear reactors in the affected region could be impacted, leading to as many as 60 meltdowns similar to Japan’s Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Disaster. Without off-site electricity, these reactors would be reliant on on-site systems to prevent a meltdown, which could also be compromised in the event of an EMP attack. Without both off-site and on-site power, the risk of radioactive contamination to the continental United States drastically increases, further compounding the damage done by the attack. [3]

While many people are aware of EMP attacks, far fewer people actually understand what an EMP attack is, how it works, or how it would affect the country. AN EMP attack would, without question, be one of the very worst things that could happen to the United States. If you’ve ever heard of the idea that an EMP attack could throw America back to the 1800s, it is actually very possible that it would.

EMP stands for “electromagnetic pulse, ” and it’s basically a very powerful and intense pulse of electromagnetic radiation. If this pulse is powerful enough, it can fry the wiring in circuitry, and in a strong enough magnetic field, electronics can be completely destroyed by the burst. Now, this doesn’t mean that those electronic devices are going to explode or anything. But it does mean that the electrical components are going to get fried, and will quit working. It is important to note that an EMP is not going to be dangerous to animals, plants, or people (unless you’re wearing something like a pacemaker or are in a moving vehicle or plane), so you shouldn’t need to fear for your physical health when the blast goes off.

One way is through detonating a nuclear weapon high in the atmosphere. The energy created by that blast could create an electromagnetic pulse that would then be sent out in all directions. There are also different kinds of electromagnetic pulses as well: El, E2, and E3. An El pulse is the most powerful and intense. It creates microwaves as it passes through the earth’s magnetic field, and would most certainly cause voltage convulsions in electrical conductors as well. This is the type of electromagnetic pulse that would fry computers and similar electronic equipment, as well as key electronics in cars, trucks, and aircraft. The E2 pulse is similar to lightning strikes and is far less powerful than an El pulse. Finally, the E3 pulse is even less powerful than the E2 and is comparable to solar flares created by the sun. While E3s are still powerful enough to damage power lines and other infrastructure, they’re still not nearly as powerful as Els.

The answer to this question depends on a number of different factors: the type of electromagnetic pulse, how high in the atmosphere it’s detonated (the higher the device is detonated, the wider the range it’s going to affect), and whether or not electronic devices are shielded. Virtually any device that is not shielded or protected against an E 1 electromagnetic pulse is likely to be either completely fried or at least severely damaged.

These include, but are not necessarily limited to:

1) the power grid; 2) laptops; 3) tablets; 4) cellphones; 5) cell services towers; 6) internet routers; 7) electronic gun safes; 8) TVs; 9) radios; 10) refrigerators and freezers; 11) thermostats; 12) electronic banking (i.e., all credit and debit cards and ATMs); 13) the computerized components of vehicles ( cars, planes, ATVs, motorcycles, UTVs, etc.); 14) pacemakers; 15) hospital diagnostic machines; 16) anything with a microchip. All of the above items are going to be extremely vulnerable to an EMP. Phones and laptops that are being housed in a metal building or sealed metal container might be able to survive an El, but it’s not at all guaranteed.

What you need to do is imagine a world where each of the items listed above is taken out instantly, because that is exactly what an EMP attack is going to do. For instance, cars are going to quit working instantly, at least cars that were built since 1980. Planes will fall out of the sky. Phones and laptops will be fried, and even if they aren’t, they won’t do you much good without cell service or the Internet. In essence, America will be thrown back to the Stone Age as hundreds of millions of people across the country find themselves in a world without power. Looting and rioting would be almost certain to develop in the hours and days following the attack across most of the major cities in America. Due to the lack of working electronic equipment, military and law enforcement would be enormously slow to respond.

What’s worse is that such a scenario could potentially last for years. It would take years, if not a full decade, for the power grid to get back up and running the way it was before, during which time up to 90% of Americans could be killed by starvation, rioting, disease, dehydration, murder, and suicide. In essence, if there’s one thing that an EMP attack would create in the United States it would be chaos, misery, and death.

President Trump has just signed an executive order to study the risks of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the US. Experts have determined that a successful attack doesn’t even require a Super-EMP weapon. The Commission that studied the implications of an EMP for 15 years concluded that even a primitive weapon could successfully render our infrastructure obsolete. Several declassified 2017 reports from the Commission that were released earlier this year revealed that Russia, China, and several other nations had been developing powerful high-altitude nuclear bombs intended to produce super-electromagnetic pulse (EMP) waves capable of knocking out critical electronic infrastructure. The Commission and outside experts have also claimed that North Korea has the capability to carry out an EMP attack on the US. And during the unpleasantness with the US back in 2017, Kim Jong Un even reportedly threatened to carry out such an attack.

Here’s what the report said about the threat posed by EMPs: “Nuclear EMP attack is part of the military doctrines, plans, and exercises of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran for a revolutionary new way of warfare against military forces and civilian critical infrastructures by cyber-sabotage. The Commission sees the high-altitude nuclear explosion-generated electromagnetic pulse as an existential threat to the survival of the United States and its allies that can be exploited by major nuclear powers and small-scale nuclear weapon powers, including North Korea and non-state actors such as nuclear-armed terrorists. “

Newt Gingrich once said that an EMP would “destroy the country’s ability to function.” If an atomic weapon were to be detonated high up in the air, the resulting explosion would not be powerful enough to kill people on the ground (at least, not in large numbers). But the electromagnetic interference would be powerful enough to shut down electronic grids.

EMP attacks do not require accuracy, nor do the bombs require a re-entry vehicle, heat shield, or shock absorbers like standard nuclear weapons, and they can be delivered through several methods-including satellites; short-, medium-, or long-range missiles; or even from a jet, commercial airliner, or meteorological balloon. The worst forecasts suggest that up to 90% of Americans could die in the aftermath of an EMP attack, after the bulk of the country’s electric grid fails, leaving essential services in the dark. Hospitals would soon shut down, clean water would run out, and millions of Americans would quickly run out of food.

An event that is currently causing a growing apprehension among knowledgeable electronics experts is the danger of losing the entire electrical power grid and anything that requires electrical circuitry to operate. If all this was lost, it would send us back 200 years to how things were at the start of the 19th century. The thought of living without electricity might not seem too scary at first, especially when you start to consider that our ancestors coped perfectly fine without it. But our ancestors didn’t live in a society that was wholly reliant upon electricity for their needs as we are today.

It is highly probable that survivors would eventually transition, but the chances are that a huge percent of the US population would perish during that transition time. Some experts put that figure as high as 90%!

There has been much talk recently of how vulnerable the United States is to an EMP attack and why Trump has recently signed an executive order directing the federal government to put together a coherent plan of action in the event the US is targeted with a strategic EMP attack. The order highlights the failings and weaknesses of our Electrical Grid and all existing action plans. It also highlights the potential, but very real, the threat of an EMP weapon being used against the US by rogue nations or terrorist organizations.

The US government has enacted this executive order based upon risk assessments provided by prominent EMP experts that highlight the dangers to the US should a strategic EMP weapon ever be used against us. The US electrical grid urgently needs strengthening.

Nobody knows for certain how dark the United States would go after an EMP attack takes out the electrical grid. In the worst-case scenario, there would be no electric power and every piece of electrical equipment would have its circuitry fried, rendering it useless-including all modern vehicles. Now for the frightening part! Within seconds of an EMP event occurring, the fatalities would very quickly start to mount up. Stalled passenger planes falling out of the skies, thousands killed in automobile accidents, life support, and lifesaving equipment suddenly stopping-the list goes on and on.

On the ground, any problems would initially be manageable. Most homes would only have enough food and water to last them a few days. However, all water utilities would stop immediately, as there would be no power to operate pumping stations or treatment plants. Solar power will be rendered useless as the solar panels will be damaged by the EMP. Shops and stores would quickly empty as daily food deliveries stop. There would be no communication networks available, as landlines, cells, TV and radio stations, and Internet all stop working. It wouldn’t be too long before violent mobs and looters started to take advantage of the situation, initially targeting shops and warehouses, then moving onto domestic housing soon after.

There will be no police; there will be no National Guard; there will be no law and order. If you have had the good wisdom to prepare, you will have put together a good supply of water, food, and guns with plenty of ammunition-enough to see you through a couple of weeks, or even a month of crisis. However, as sensible as these preparations may sound, in a city full of thirsty and starving inhabitants, it won’t be long before you are targeted and it will not matter how many guns you have, they still won’t be enough to stop the hundreds or thousands of people willing to kill you to take what you have. Consider Caracas, Venezuela at present in this respect.

That doesn’t mean that making preparations is a waste of time. Preparation is still the key to surviving these types of Doomsday events, but the most important piece of survival advice you need to follow, especially if you live in a city or any other large urban environment. is to leave for a rural area. Head quickly for the relative safety of the countryside, woods, or mountains, preferably as part of a group of well-armed, like-minded individuals.

If you stay in the city, your chances of survival will be extremely slim. Cities are not designed to be self-sufficient. They will quickly run out of water and food, descending just as quickly into lawless no-go zones. There will be no sanitation and no waste disposal, rotting corpses will start piling up all over the place, sickness and disease will be everywhere, and eventually, without medicine or treatment of any kind, epidemics will wipe out masses of people. Again, for a pretty accurate picture of what this will look like. observe the chaos that is presently happening in Caracas, Venezuela.

Over time, people who stay in large towns and cities will die-some sooner than others, but the majority will die. Probably the 83% of the population of the United States that live in urban environments will account for the vast majority of fatalities. The threat of an EMP event causing catastrophic damage to our society and our way of life is very real. There is only one way to survive in the aftermath of such an event, and that is to have all your preps in order and to move as far away as possible from large populations.

Survival in the country, a small town or a more rural setting, or on a farm will obviously be much easier. You will need to take action to stock up on supplies, establish close alliances with people in your area for bartering and mutual protection, and build Faraday cages (i.e., similar to the old bread boxes, or even metal garbage can with a tightly sealed top) to shield electronic items (including watches) from the effects of EMP A world-band shortwave radio and hand-held CB radios (if protected) may be your only means of communication with the outside world since the Internet, all phones and other communications will be down.

Besides the obvious: food, water, firearms and ammunition, camping and backpacking equipment, and first aid supplies, there should be enough bicycles for each member of the family. All cars and trucks will stop because their electronics are melted, so bicycles would be very useful.

Is an EMP attack against America technologically feasible? Absolutely! Do we have enemies who hate us enough and would like to destroy us? Absolutely! Do they have the technical ability to launch such an attack? Absolutely! Would an EMP attack be a way to conquer America and unleash unimaginable pain and chaos, but leave its infrastructure intact for some future rulers-the globalist (New World) government, Chinese, Russians, UN, or maybe just the communists who are actively trying to take over at this time?

Preparing for an EMP attack is something that the United States government should be doing, but our present reality is that we are woefully underprepared. However, as individuals, we should also be prepared. An EMP would change your world as you know it, and literally, transform your city into a war zone. The supply trucks would stop, the grocery stores would become looted, and raiders would prowl the streets.

Most people (the great majority we all know) would never consider the possibility of an EMP attack and would ridicule (scoff at) the possibility (or warnings) of such a scenario-such as this article-as negative gloom and doom fear-mongering. If it should happen, these people will be totally unprepared, and many of them will die in the ugly aftermath. But government electronics experts this writer has talked about within recent years believe such an event is very possible and that America is dangerously totally unprepared for it. It might be useful to study the current lifestyle of the Amish people in Iowa and other Midwestern states. They live with no electricity or electronic devices. They will do well in a post-EMP environment.

As this writer was sitting in a large shopping center in the Philippines on April 12, rereading this article prior to publication, suddenly there was a total power failure-everything went pitch black. Escalators and elevators suddenly stopped, all water in bathrooms stopped, toilets would not flush, all electronics stopped, Internet access abruptly stopped, and only flashlights on cell phones gave us some light. The blackout lasted several hours, during which time we made it to an exit and into the daylight. It was a timely and eerie reminder of what would happen in an EMP event-except that a nationwide event would be 100 times worse.

This essay is an excerpt from the original edition of the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor, circular newsletter dated May 2019.

© 2019 Used by Permission

Nordskog Publishing (NPI) provides articles and essays by select guest authors which we believe have much to offer the Christian community-to motivate Biblical thinking and action. We believe in the marketplace of ideas within the context of God’s Word. However, we may disagree at points.  Publishing an article does not mean absolute agreement. Therefore, please understand that opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NPI, nor of its editorial staff.

This post was written by August Neverman IV. August is the Chief Information Officer and Information Security Officer of Brown County Wisconsin published an article on the website https://commonsensehome.com/electromagnetic-pulse-emp/#What_could_an_EMP_damage which gives us even more insight as to what an EMP is, and what it does.

An EMP or Electro-Magnetic Pulse is a wave of electromagnetic radiation. It is like sunshine or a bright flash but on a different frequency.

The electrons from EMP rain down on the plant. Those electrons interact with power lines, metal, conductive materials, and electronics and cause power spikes. A large EMP could knock out power or kill electronic equipment.

Most EMPs do not directly hurt people, although they may cause harm when produced in extreme conditions such as munitions explosions.

An EMP can be caused by many things. The two most likely EMP threats are a nuclear explosion or solar flare.

Depending on the power of the explosion or solar flare, an EMP could damage:

  • TVs, radios, and other broadcast equipment
  • Power grid transformers and substations
  • Telephones (landlines) and mobile phones
  • Vehicle and aircraft control systems
  • Computers and all internet-connected devices
  • Refrigerators
  • Generators
  • Satellites potentially within the range of the emp 

Anything electronic or powered by electricity could be damaged by an EMP. The damage will vary with the size of the EMP and how close you are to the center of the energy from the EMP.

A nuclear EMP is more energetic and has a shorter burst. A solar flare EMP may also be referred to as a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) or a geomagnetic storm. Solar flares vary widely in intensity from simply causing bright “northern lights” to potentially destroying some or all of the power grid. Smaller EMPs may cause power grid blackouts. Solar flares can last much longer than nuclear EMPs.

With the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the likelihood of a nuclear EMP increase. A nuclear EMP requires a nuclear weapon delivered by a rocket, high flying aircraft, or ICBM. The nuke is detonated high in the air (referred to as an “air burst” or atmospheric burst) to create the EMP. In a worst-case, the nuke is detonated in the upper atmosphere, approximately 20 miles up. A large 1 kiloton to 2 kilotons nuclear electromagnetic pulse like this would be very serious. A nation-state or rogue states such as North Korea or Iran are the most likely cause of an atmospheric nuclear burst (EMP). There are other ways to create small directed EMPs but we are not covering them in this post.

The atmospheric nuclear explosion itself would create little to no physical destruction. The gamma radiation would be fairly far away so its direct impact would be limited. However, the airburst nuke would create a widespread EMP and some limited fallout.

That large EMP would destroy or at least damage the electrical grid (see below). It would also destroy electronics within the EMP area. Nearly all vehicles with electronic systems would fail when exposed to the EMP. The level of damage depending on how close and how powerful the blast is. Of course, the location and protection of the vehicle impact the level of possible

Basically, a fast burst, high energy nuclear EMP damages or destroys all nearby non-shielded electronic devices (cell phones, refrigerators, generators, inverters, TVs, radios, cars, etc) within its area of effect in a few seconds.

Note: In nuclear weapon tests the EMP doesn’t expand in simple circles. The earth’s magnetosphere deflects and interacts with the blast, causing the waves to spread more strongly away from the poles and may vary widely. The pulse is concentrated more strongly in a semi-circular band, as shown in the image above. The earth’s magnetic field deforms the explosion. The graphic is only an estimate – and would vary in the real world based on size/altitude/atmospheric state/magnetosphere and other variables.

Recent News:

  • https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/03/29/trump-issued-an-executive-order-prepare-an-emp-attack-what-is-it-should-you-worry/
  • https://www.energy.gov/articles/president-trump-signs-executive-order-resilience-against-electromagnetic-pulses

The time to recover from a nuclear EMP could be hours, days, weeks, or months. Recovery would vary depending on the scope, location, size and type of explosion, and altitude of the EMP attack. The scope of damage to the electrical grid and technology infrastructure nationally would be a big factor in recovery time. If the blast was small enough or far enough away, vehicles may be disabled temporarily but could be restarted. There is no clear, easy way to predict the impact, duration, and scope of an EMP.

The biggest risk is a multi-warhead nuclear EMP attack resulting in multiple atmospheric nuclear bursts. Multiple bursts spread out over the USA would likely cripple if not destroy the entire power grid. A total power grid failure would require months to even years of recovery work. If the power grid fails, water and natural gas also fail soon after the burst.

A terrorist group would have trouble successfully set off a high-altitude airburst. It is more likely they would likely use a ship and float in a nuke to a major port city.

The lower altitude greatly restricts the range of the EMP damage. Unfortunately, the proximity to the ground would increase local physical damage, gamma radiation, and fallout.

A dirty bomb would tend to be devastating locally, but would not result in a widespread EMP. See also “Nuclear Radiation Exposure – Dealing with Radiation Risks”.

The amount of energy created in a nuclear EMP is difficult to calculate. We can estimate EMP energy based on historical nuclear tests. A nuclear test using a 1.47 megaton bomb was detonated in 1962, about 400 kilometers (250 mi) in the mid-pacific ocean. The test was called “Starfish Prime”. The nuclear detonation caused electrical damage 800 to 900 miles away in Hawaii.

If the same 1.4 megaton nuke was detonated off the US, it is estimated it would have created a 22 to 30 kV/m pulse at the core of its blast. A modern hydrogen bomb is 3 kilotons all the way up to 1.2 megatons, so the amount of EMP from one of these would vary greatly. You can use the kiloton ratio to estimate the range of the EMP and impact in kV/m.

Aircraft may be impacted, but the metal fuselage would function partially as a Faraday cage. That means aircraft would not necessarily as susceptible, depending on proximity and many other variables.

The distance from the detonation, the altitude, and the magnetosphere will determine the amount of damage to electronics. Ultimately the area in the blast would very likely see a regional electrical grid failure. A functional vehicle would not necessarily do you any good if the gas stations can’t pump.

Cars are more resilient than many other electronics. A car is well-grounded because of tires. The car also has a partial “faraday cage” because of the metal frame which helps some. So the tires isolate the vehicle and the metal frame and panels can protect the electronics to some extent.

If you had a power line hit your car STAY IN THE CAR. The tires isolate the power flow. Do not get out. Getting out causes your body to create a ground route (a circuit) from the power line to the earth through YOU.

The older the car or truck the less sensitive it would be to an EMP.  A grounding unit (fuse) on the car battery would help, but will not eliminate the risk.

The problem is that a car still has a 12v positive and negative in the battery, an antenna for the radio, and wiring. The electronics in a car or truck would likely survive a .25 kV/m EMP blast (especially if it’s not running), but higher than .25kV/m would likely damage or destroy the electronics. The higher the kV/m (higher power EMP) means the increased chance of damage.

A solar flare or Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) created by the sun through normal activity results in electromagnetic radiation that travels through space.

Scientists can detect a coronal mass ejection (CME) and have time to issue a warning. It takes about 5 days for a CME to reach earth.

When a CME hits the earth it creates a geomagnetic storm or EMP on earth, also referred to as a geomagnetic disturbance (GMD). Our magnetosphere protects us from most solar radiation and EMP effects. Although rare, larger solar flares get through the magnetosphere and impact the earth’s surface. That is what we are worried about.

A very large, extended Solar Flare EMP could destroy some or all of the high voltage backbone transformers. These transformers are critical to the U.S. electric grid. Even if only a few hundred of the larger transformers were destroyed it would likely disable the entire interconnected system for weeks or even months.

+Small electronics could survive a solar flare, cell towers could, some cellphones may survive also but the power grid damage for an extended event is the bigger problem. In general, a large long-lived solar flare would be far worse than a single nuclear EMP.

You can actually get warnings and alerts for known solar flares here are some references:

  • Solar Alerts App https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/solar-alert-protect-your-life/id513766293?mt=8
  • NWS Space Weather
    • https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/
    • https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/alerts-watches-and-warnings
  • Flare Aware https://flareaware.com/

The recovery time for small solar EMP could be days to weeks (like 1979 in Canada). The time to recover from a large solar flare EMP could be months to years. The effects of an EMP vary widely depending on the scope, weather, grounding, location, intensity, and length of the burst.

The largest risk is damage to the electrical grid and technology infrastructure. A major EMP would not directly kill people but the resulting loss of power and communications would result in short and possibly severe long-term impacts. It could also disable or destroy some satellites if the flare was strong enough. A flare could also cause cars and trucks to stop working temporarily or permanently.

The largest recorded CME was the 1859 Carrington event. It lasted multiple days and impacted the entire planet. It caused telegraph wires in the United States to burst into flames, starting fires along the telegraph lines. Telegraph machines scorched paper printouts, gave operators electric shocks, and transmitted gibberish. Telegraphs continued working for hours even after being unplugged from the batteries that powered them.

For two days, the light show (northern lights) and the electromagnetic storm continued, then faded. A repeat of this event would be disastrous to our electronics-dependent modern environment, impacting part or all of the planet. The scope of a larger flare would be devastating.

In 1979 there was a small solar flare that caused Toronto to be without power for an entire day. There was also a smaller flare that knocked out power in the entire province of Quebec in 1989. The odds of these events are hard to predict, but the likelihood is as high as 1 in 8 for the next 10 years (varying with the solar cycle).

You can shield or protect devices by protecting them from pulse or radiation. Here are three ways:

  • Building a Faraday cage (a shield that redirects power to the ground) using a conductive metal container that is grounded.
  • Grounding a “shell” around them and isolating them from the electromagnetic radiation/power spikes
  • Using industrial-grade ground fault isolation will help from a grid feed issue but fuses and ground fault will not stop the electron flow from an EMP

Here are some basic protection options:

  • Foil wrap: A simple Faraday cage can be made by COMPLETELY covering an object with aluminum foil. Wrap your radio with a cloth or other insulation, then wrap that with a double layer of aluminum foil (to ensure no gaps). Ensure that this shell is well-grounded (electrical ground). If you don’t know what an “electrical ground” is, find someone who does.
  • Garbage Can or another metal container: A large fairly cheap Faraday cage can be steel garbage can with a couple of grounding rods. The steel of the garbage can interacts with the EMP and creates a voltage/current spike that is then grounded. That redirects the electrical charge, protecting whatever is inside the garbage can. A Faraday Cage can be used to store radios and other susceptible electronic devices.
  • Metal Roof: A house with an extremely well-grounded metal roof could protect from an EMP, depending on the power of the pulse, because it could effectively “shield” the house by interacting with EMP and then re-directing the resulting voltage/current spike to the heavy ground wires (like lightning). A multi-day solar flare would create ongoing voltage/current. A nuclear explosion would create a spike more like a lightning strike, independently hitting everything within line of sight. Note: A grounded metal roof alone doesn’t fix the problem, because power line spikes could negate any benefits a metal roof would provide.
  • Metal fencing to create a “box” or full “cage”. Then combine the cage with multiple grounding rods. The cage must have a metal fence roof and all the panels or sections must be grounded. The cage “catches” or absorbs the EMP (electron flow) and redirects the electrons to the earth. This type of setup allows for more storage.
  • These items were designed specifically to shield from EMPs:
    • EMP protection bags, sized to hold individual items
    • Large electromagnetic pulse protection bags, to hold one or more items

Would a power strip protect my device from an EMP? 

It would protect your device from a power spike from the power grid, and help with a small EMP but it would not protect from a large EMP.

What is an EMP Gun?

A device that creates a short electromagnetic pulse or beams.

The best course of action for most people is to focus on events such as a 72-hour power outage. Short-duration trouble is more likely than long-term problems.

It is possible but quite unlikely that a global event could occur due to a solar flare, major meteor storm, pandemic, major volcanic activity, war, or any number of other catastrophes. We suggest you first plan for the far more likely snowstorm, power outage, tornado, earthquake, or hurricane.

Prepare for likely events first. Then if you have the resources and understanding, prepare for the less likely ones like a solar or nuclear EMP.

Prepare as you would for a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or another extended natural disaster. The government recommends we have 72 hours, we recommend 7 days to start, 30 days as a target, and your stretch goal of 1 year. Stockpile food and water, fuel, prescriptions, general medical supplies, personal hygiene items – the basics you need to survive.

Plan for cooking, shelter, self-defense, heating, cooling, clothing, hygiene, handling medical emergencies, and garbage disposal as if you were camping without power. Having a 72 hour to 1-year food and supplies stash can serve you regardless of the event, even as simple as a job loss.

Related articles:

  • 20 Things I Wish I Had Before the Flash Flood Emergency
  • When the Power Grid Fails – 10 Things You Need to Prepare
  • Storage and Shelf Life of Over the Counter Medication

There’s a lot of overlap between different types of emergency preparedness.

This is harder. The time to recover from a large Solar or Nuclear EMP would depend on location and many other variables. It could be weeks, too many months, or in a worst-case scenario, years. There would also be chaos as supplies dwindle, and the military would likely be called in to maintain order.

We’ve all seen how quickly grocery stores empty during emergencies, and supply lines would be cut. Effectively, you would need to be prepared to live without power, i.e. living off-grid, for a few months to a year or more.

If you are preparing for a single nuclear EMP, the recovery time would be quicker. For a large solar EMP or multiple nuclear bursts, the recovery time would be much longer. With a global, multi-day major solar flare CME EMP, it would be many months or even years before we would recover.

Basically, you would need to prepare to live an 1800s lifestyle – wood stove, hand tools, and no electrical power. You would need tools and equipment necessary to garden, hunt, prepare food without electricity or gasoline. You would need a good stock of books, tools, medicine, and learn a LOT of skills.

The other option is to store a completely protected and isolated power generation system, solar, biodiesel equipment, gasification, wind, etc., and know how to put it together after the event.

If you are planning on keeping modern conveniences you will need a full electrical power generation system protected from the EMP and spare parts. A Faraday cage around solar panels, biodiesel equipment, and/or a wind generator are your best bet since you won’t be able to get gasoline or natural gas. Box up everything electrical in Faraday Cages.

Practical things you can do that would help in small and large emergencies…

Consider joining regional and national emergency communications, such as your local ARES/RACES program. (ARES = Amateur Radio Emergency Service. RACES = Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service.) Get a shortwave radio and EMP protect it.

More information here:


Get First Aid and medical training, and you can use those skills for a storm, EMP or car accident. See Red Cross training programs, YMCA or YWCA, or check out your local vocational tech schools. Participate with your local EMTs. Volunteer to assist in local preparedness exercises. Buy or build a First Aid Kit that would serve you, your family, and if you have the funds, your community.

If you don’t have basic carpentry skills, consider learning those skills. Get supplies and tools necessary to repair, improve or worse case, create shelter. Get camping gear, a tent inside a cold house will stay warmer than the house alone or the tent outside.

Stockpile at least 3 days of the foods you regularly eat. Once you have 3 days, build up to 3 weeks, and so on. (See “Top 10 Real Foods to Store Without Electricity”.) Extra stored food is useful for a snowstorm, tornado, short power outage or even simply feeding your family while you hunt for a new job.

Don’t forget to have a way to cook your food, too. See “Emergency Cooking – 10 Ways to Have a Hot Meal When the Power Goes Out” for more information.

For those who have livestock or pets, don’t forget about their needs, too.

You must have at least one gallon of potable (drinkable) water person per day. Store at least a week of water, or have a guaranteed way to get water without electricity. Get a bathtub water bladder and fill it IMMEDIATELY after any power event (or before if you have warnings, such as a snowstorm or Solar EMP).

We recommend that you purchase a Berkey water filter or other water gravity-fed filtration system. The higher-end filters are good for an EMP or any other natural disaster. Get LifeStraw personal water filters to carry instead of water. See” Emergency Water Storage and Filtration – What You Need to Know Before Emergencies Hit”.

If you have livestock or pets, plan for their needs, too. Hand pumps and large-scale water storage will be essential for large numbers of animals or large animals.

Get a good basic tool kit (hammer, knife, screwdriver, etc.). Ensure you have tarps, duct tape, and fire extinguishers. Consider other items like a bike pump and a crank cellphone charger/flashlight/radio. Think about what you would need if the power was out for days, weeks, or even months? Think about people-powered options for making basic repairs.

During an extended event, people causing trouble will likely be armed. Think of the chaos and looting during Katrina. Emergency services such as the police will likely be overwhelmed and difficult or impossible to reach. If you obtain a firearm, get the proper training to use and maintain it. Consider other options such as pepper spray if you don’t feel confident with a firearm or they are prohibited in your area.

Establish good relations with neighbors before emergency situations, so you know someone has your back. (And you have theirs.) Community is how we have survived for tens of thousands of years. Build your community.

It is possible a household generator would still function after a small EMP, so having the generator and some extra gas, or propane, could allow you to have limited power while the grid is repaired. This would be useful in storms also. A solar USB charger can keep devices that survived the blast running without grid electricity. This assumes you store the electronic devices in an EMP-protected location.

Be prepared for toilets to stop functioning. You can use waste bags that fit into a conventional toilet, or a dedicated emergency toilet. See “DIY Portable Toilet, Plus Tips to Get Rid of Smells” for detailed emergency loo tips. Consider a gravity-fed solar shower, and make sure you have a clean source of water for handwashing. Solar ovens can do double duty, cooking food and sterilizing water.

The basics are still the best:

  • Have water storage and water filtration available
  • Stockpile the foods you eat regularly and rotate your stock
  • Determine your most basic shelter and clothing needs (clean underwear and socks are priorities)
  • Learn necessary skills, such as first aid training, to take care of yourself, your family, and your community

Many of us have seen firsthand how emergencies bring out the best and worst in people. Having the tools and skills you need to get thin

Robber on the road

Damages caused by over-saturation of voltage on wires.

What does this mean? Think about everything all that’s powered. Electronics, vehicles, microwaves, TVs, cellular towers, even the lights. Think about controlling water, think about controlling all your utilities, not to mention the Internet, if you think about it that way, you are talking about the potential of removing all of that functionality, right down to your electric can opener. Refrigerators and freezers, both; at a residential, and at commercial level, all of them gone. That that we have had for the last hundred years vanishing in an instant. The last several generations wouldn’t have an understanding of some basic principles of living.

Mass Effect on the medical community

Include a discussion on “Instant Mass Causality”

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