EMP Reality Check: Can You Survive Without Technology?

Magnetic EMP Pulse

Imagine a world where there is no technology. Not because you’ve traveled back in time to the 1800’s but because someone has attacked America’s electric grid. Cell phones and computers don’t work. But that’s the least of your problems.

Article by Shane S.

  • Power is out everywhere. Hospitals are no longer functional.
  • Food is limited and will probably last only a few months – if you’re lucky.
  • Trash and waste build up and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Disease spreads like wildfire. It’s not a nightmare.

It’s possible, and if it happens could you survive?

What is an EMP

An electromagnetic pulse, EMP, is a short disturbance of electromagnetic energy, either from a man-made or natural occurrence. An EMP can be damaging to all kinds of electronic equipment, and if it is powerful enough, it can even damage structures or buildings. This makes it the perfect choice for a technological terrorist attack.

I first heard about EMPs when I read One Second After, by William R. Forstchen. It’s an excellent book and really brings the scenario to life. I highly recommend you check it out if you haven’t read it.

A big enough EMP attack could wipe out power indefinitely. And could potentially be the end of our country as we know it. Most EMP’s affect a relatively small area, an attack could affect northern states from Maine to Wisconsin for example.

Although that may seem like a large area, a solar flare could easily affect double the area. However, if three EMP attacks targeted different parts of America at the same time the whole country could be affected at once.

The dangers of an EMP attack

The most obvious and initial dangers of an EMP attack would be for anyone relying and machines to live. For example, anyone on life support would die immediately or soon after the attack. Fires would break out everywhere due to surges. People traveling on airplanes would also be in danger of the plane crashing due to the loss of technology.

Those who do survive would have to quickly learn how to no longer depend on technology for everything. They would have to find new ways to cook, and new ways of keeping their family safe from harm. Prisoners would be able to break out of jails all over the country, and people would resort to stealing, looting and violence for any food or first-aid available.

Almost anything can happen

The most dangerous issue of an EMP though is the fact that anything can happen. No matter how much planning we do, or how many precautions we take, we just can’t know for sure what would happen in this scenario.

Preparing for an EMP

The best defense is a good offense as they say, and the best way to survive an EMP is to be prepared.

Faraday cage for electronics

You could try to build a massive lead structure, but as you can imagine, it isn’t very practical. The first thing you should do to prepare for an EMP is get a Faraday cage for any important electronics. This is a cage made of conductive material which can block electric fields, so electronic devices stored here would still work after an EMP.

You can make your own basic Faraday cage with heavy duty aluminum foil. It’s recommend you wrap an item in at least three layers of foil to make sure it is protected. Keep in mind however, this is a very rudimentary example and might not work in a massive EMP attack.

For greater protection, wrap the items in foil, then place them in some sort of container, such as a shoe box, wrap that box in three layers of foil and finally place the box in an aluminum trashcan or other container. It may seem like overkill now, but should an EMP occur, you’ll be glad you took this precaution.

Faraday cages can also be purchased in several stores or online. If you want the best protection for your essential electronics, and don’t mind paying a lot, consider this option. You can also use a radiation blocking material like tungsten radiation shielding.

A few suggestions of items to protect are, an old, but still working, cell phone, a laptop, a small portable stove, a radio. Just think about technical items you would most need in a blackout or other emergency and put those in.

Have cash on hand

Be sure to always keep some cash on hand, in a secure but easily retrievable location. Once the power is out, credit cards won’t work. And if you have stashed your cash in an electronic safe, you’re out of luck once again.

Remember though, after an EMP, cash will lose it’s value very quickly, as many people will start stealing or looting. Go to a store and get as much as you can as quickly as you can. Food, bottled water, extra blankets and even supplies for cooking without electricity are all things you should already have, but it wouldn’t hurt to stock up on at this point.

Be ready to collect water

Water is needed for so many daily activities, so you’ll want to have as much of it on hand as possible. Fill everything up you can think of, sinks, tubs, glasses, pots and pans. This will be used for not only cooking but washing as well. You should also have plenty of bottled water on hand too to use for drinking water.

Eventually, sewer and water plants will stop working, if they work at all after the attack, and you will need all the clean, fresh water you can get.

Get set up with solar

Solar equipment, such as a solar powered stove, can be extremely useful after an EMP, but keep in mind, if it’s not stored in your Faraday cage it will be as useless to you as your other electronics. Keep this in mind when making or purchasing the cage, and be sure it will hold everything you wish to protect.

What if you’re in your car?

Don’t forget, you could be anywhere when an EMP occurs, work, home, vacation, or even in the car. Make sure you have survival equipment within reach no matter where you are, by keeping supplies in your car as well as your home.

Always keep nonperishable food and a few bottles of water in your car, along with a first aid kit, and a few blankets. It’s also a good idea to have a good pair of shoes for each person in your family in the car, incase for any reason you must stop driving and travel on foot. Make sure your car is well maintained and running smoothly, you never know when a five minute drive could turn into a longer journey. Other important items to always have with you are, a knife, a metal container for cooking/boiling water, and a fire starter.

Be Ready to Bug Out

Any semi populated city or metropolis will be in a pure panic. Remember the situation in New Orleans with Katrina in 2005. So, there is no reason not to plan for a possible bug out scenario. An EMP is literally one of the times you may want to get out of town.

If you are in a rural setting, you may be able to buckle down and bug in. You won’t have to deal with the riots, looting, and chaos. That said, in the days after an EMP, you may find some of the urban population bugging out from the city. If you have enough land and resources, you can consider setting up a camp as a charity of sorts. The people that made it all the way to your homestead probably have some survival and planning skills that may be valuable.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to prevent an EMP attack, but you can be prepared. Keep these tips in mind and you will be well on your way to surviving one of the potentially most harmful and damaging attack in existence.

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