Before you can know how to prepare for an EMP, you must first understand how it works. You must get a feel for how it might occur and the damage it might cause.
This is a weapon that has never been used on a large scale, but most countries have the technology to create a far reaching EMP event.
Experts say that this is the most likely tool for large scale attacks because it creates as much damage as nuclear weapons, but without all the messy radiation left behind.
The real question is…when an EMP blast happens will you be prepared?
What is an EMP Blast?
In the broadest possible terms, an EMP blast typically refers to an event that causes a widespread shutdown of the power grid. This phenomenon is also sometimes called a Transient Electromagnetic Disturbance and consists of a short, but strong burst of electromagnetic energy.
Many people know that an EMP burst can fry electronic devices and power lines, but it can also do other physical damage.
When a thunderstorm produces a bolt of lightning, this is a side effect of a type of EMP burst. If you have seen what a tree looks like after a lightning strike, you know that this is a powerful phenomenon.
It is also possible for EMP bursts to come from space. Anytime a large piece of debris slams into the earth’s atmosphere, it can cause an EMP burst as it breaks apart.
One of the more likely forms of an EMP burst is from the sun. Solar flares are explosions of gas on the surface of the sun, and they seem to be getting more intense with every year that passes.
If there is a really large explosion, it could easily create a blast strong enough to destroy our current power grid.
Nuclear EMP blasts are created in two ways. A larger blast is created from the initial explosion. Then a secondary EMP blast is created from the ionization process of the surrounding air.
Electrons are pulled from the structure of the atoms and then pushed back together resulting in a secondary pulse. All nuclear bombs product EMP blasts, but a NEMP or nuclear EMP blast is designed to create most of its damage through the EMP, and not through the explosion.
These nuclear EMP blasts could be unleashed off the coast in a boat or over a major city in a plane. It would not even have to touch mainland soil to shut down a major chunk of the power grid.
HEMPs are blasts detonated at high altitudes and work very differently. These blasts flood the upper part of our atmosphere, the stratosphere, with gamma rays that cause the same ionization process we mentioned above.
The atoms actually react with the gravity of the earth to magnify the strength of the blast felt at ground level. One of these types of EMP blasts could shut down a 700-mile radius in one moment.
It would take only two to shut down the United States or all of Europe.
NNEMPs (non-nuclear EMPs) create an EMP pulse with no nuclear explosion. They create a more focused assault as they have a small radius and are perfect for attacking a specific target.
These devices still require a chemical reaction, but the blast can be delivered with a missile or a drone. This makes them ideal to shut down a single ground vehicle or aircraft.
It should also be mentioned that hackers can create a similar effect without ever setting foot in our country. Most experts think that our first major EMP event will come from hackers.
With our electrical grid, our nuclear power stations, and virtually everything else connected to a computer, it is only a matter of time before somebody decides to use all of that against us.
What to Expect Afterwards
So what exactly will life look like after an EMP blast? I used to picture a temporary power outage. We would light candles and listen to the radio until the power came back on.
I was wrong…this is not that kind of power outage.
You can expect there to be chaos within minutes of the blast. These EMP blasts generate a surge in current that can fry anything electrical. This includes cellular phones, computers, cars, subways, planes, televisions, and radios.
Because we are dealing with large scale permanent damage to power lines, power plants, and the overall infrastructure, it could likely take years before the grid was functional again.
What you really need to think about is how this will affect you short term. Cellular phones and televisions going down are an inconvenience, but am EMP event could result in people dying in the first few days.
No power means water sources, refrigeration, air conditioning, heating, and lights would all be down. People could die from dehydration, exposure, or starvation.
All funds in the bank would be gone, so most people would not be able to buy supplies from the store. This is when people will really start to panic.
You can expect riots and looting in the streets.
Any supplies still available would be stolen within next few days. Hordes of people would ransack houses trying to find food, water, and firearms. Prisons would shut down with no power, and inmates would either be released or would break out.
Law Enforcement would not be able to keep up with the violence and would have to contend with taking care of their own families as well. Nursing homes and hospitals would shut down and the deaths would be severe as breathing machines and other life saving devices shut down.
Critical prescriptions would be unavailable and many more people would die in the coming weeks.
The first major blow would fall from the sky as roughly 500,000 people would die in the first hour just from planes crashing. Without power, every single plane would fall to the ground or coast into populated areas killing and injuring more people.
Fishing boats and other vessels would be stranded at sea with no communication to get them home. People in cars would be on the side of the road, and would be forced to walk to help.
That being said, being indoors would not be a picnic either. Elevators would shut down trapping thousands of people inside. With no light and electric doors, people would be trapped inside the buildings they work in.
After the first few weeks, backup generators and water reserves in nuclear power plants would fail. This would cause massive nuclear meltdowns sending lethal radiation in all directions.
There are currently 99 nuclear reactors in the United States alone, so the fallout would be massive.
As we approach the one-month mark, disease would become an issue. Cholera in particular would be a problem as it starts by consuming tainted water. With no power, the majority of our water would go unfiltered.
Those that are still alive after the first month would have probably gotten to that point by drinking whatever water they could find…clean or not.
This disease would likely kill more people than any other aspect of an EMP blast.
Experts have estimated that 90% of the affected population would be dead within one year of a major EMP blast.
How to Prepare
Unfortunately, an EMP attack is very likely to occur during our lifetime.
Thankfully there are things we can do to be more prepared for this kind of disaster.
If you frequent survival forums, you’ve most likely heard of Faraday cages and blackout bags. These are structures designed to protect electrical devices from an EMP blast.
Without these structures, it is likely that only very small devices could still function after an EMP blast.
These structures are made with either solid metal or wire. An EMP pulse will always take the path of least resistance. In this case, that path is through the metal and around the cage instead of straight through it.
I must stress that all electronics must be unplugged for this to work or the pulse can travel through power cords or any other cords connected to the device.
You can purchase small blackout bags and boxes that are perfect for cell phones, radios, flashlights, inverters, and solar chargers. It is important that with any faraday cage there be a layer of non-conductive material inside the cage but surrounding the items.
This will ensure that the pulse stays out of the center of the cage. You can build larger faraday cages with metal filing cabinets or metal swing door cabinets. You can even line an entire room with sheet metal, a rebar cage, or metal wiring.
Faraday devices are highly useful, but the best preparation for an EMP blast is to ween ourselves off of reliance on electronic devices. Do not misunderstand me, I use my laptop and cell phone every day. However, I have devised other ways to survive without electricity.
Most preppers and survivalists have already started this process. To be truly prepared, you need to have access to food, water, fire, and shelter without the use of electricity or outside resources.
At our home, food comes from a variety of natural sources. We have a large garden as well as peach trees, apple trees, mulberry trees, and grape vines. We have a pond stocked with plenty of fish and woods full of deer, rabbits, and squirrels. We also have our pantry stocked with canned and dry goods. In the event of and EMP blast, we should have food for years without needing to rely on outside sources.
For water we have a well, a pond, and water storage. We have several filters to ensure that the pond and well water is always safe to drink.
Currently we use a pump, but it would be no problem to switch to a bucket and rope. For shelter, our home is just fine. It is secure to keep out trespassers, and is an earth contact home so it stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
There are plenty of windows for light, and it protects us well from the elements.
For fire we have several options. I have a fire pit with plenty of split wood as well as charcoal grills and smokers to cook and preserve meat. I have a propane grill with several extra bottles of propane. I also have a smaller camp stove that can be used inside if needed.
We have lots of warm blankets and clothing to stay warm without having to have a fire inside, but we have a fireplace in case we need to use it.
Some other items to consider stocking up on are first aid, toiletries, communication, and self-defense. We use walkie-talkies around our property to keep in touch.
We always have a first aid kit on hand, and have a stockpile of toilet paper, soap, and toothpaste. In addition, we have a gun safe full of firearms and ammunition as well as plenty of bows, crossbows, and large blades.
An EMP blast is a scary thought, but one you need to consider if you are to be truly prepared. If the grid goes down affected areas will essentially be sent back to the Stone Age.
In order to survive, you must have some practice living in a more primitive way. Do not wait until it is too late to prepare yourself. Take small steps towards being more self-reliant in providing for your family, as you will never regret your preps if an EMP blast puts the world in darkness.