Are EMP attacks as dangerous—and as inevitable—as some doomsayers are predicting? If so, how might they affect you and your family?
If you’ve been in the prepper/homesteader world for any length of time, you have no doubt encountered some very scary “information” predicting doom from an EMP attack.
Such an attack, it is said, is a disastrous, almost certain event that will shut down the nation completely.
The nation’s electrical grid would be destroyed. All electrical appliances would become worthless.
Electrical systems that drive certain cars and other vehicles would be fried. You couldn’t go anywhere outside of walking or cycling distance.
Massive panic would ensue as the supply chain fails, supermarket shelves become barren, and people begin to starve, riot and run amuck everywhere.
Pretty daunting, right?
But the real question is: just how likely is it that we will ever undergo an EMP attack? Where might it come from and what can we do to prepare?
That’s what we’ll cover in this article.
First: What Is An EMP Attack?
An EMP attack is an electromagnetic energy burst generated either by a solar event or by a nuclear explosion high up in the earth’s atmosphere.
When the pulse is generated, air molecules are ionized by gamma rays produced as a result of the explosion or solar waves. Subsequently, that creates a powerful electromagnetic field with the potential to damage or destroy electronic devices over widespread areas.
How much damage could this produce?
According to government documents, a single 1.4 Megaton bomb detonated 250 or so miles above the Midwest could destroy the majority of unprotected electronics across the entire continental United States.
That’s not just a wild guess-timate.
In 1962, the U.S. actually exploded a 1.4 megaton nuclear weapon over Johnston Island out in the Pacific, at an altitude of 250 miles. Eight hundred miles away, in Oahu, streetlights shut down, fuses all over the island failed, and telephone service was interrupted in nearby Kauai.
This gives us a clear idea of how, in a real event, key components of daily life would be affected, including computers, radios, traffic lights, semiconductors, railroad networks, phone systems, access to water systems and countless other electronic devices.
Today, the same result could be achieved by a rocket-delivered nuclear device no larger than a good sized suitcase.
Needless to say, whether it comes from a nuclear bomb or a solar storm, an EMP event could cripple the country for a long time.
How Vulnerable Are We To An EMP Attack?
Given the advance in technology, including not just the EMP device itself but also in delivery systems, our vulnerability may be high.
Numerous countries around the world have or are about to have the ability to launch nuclear devices into the ionosphere. A submarine lurking off either coast of the U.S., for example, could surface, launch a missile to the Midwest, and submerge with no problem at all.
The main deterrent to this happening is our fleet of nuclear submarines dispersed all over the world. None of them would likely be affected by a strike on the homeland, and retaliation to a strike would bring utter devastation to any nation so foolish as to initiate such an attack.
But There’s a Larger Threat Than Nuclear.
Bad as it is, experts say the threat of an EMP attack from an enemy nation is currently not as likely as one from nature itself.
The biggest threat may be from the sun.
Solar EMP attacks are temporary disturbances in the earth’s magnetic field when there are coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the sun.
How frequent are such disturbances?
A 1989 geomagnetic storm caused a 9-hour outage of the Hyro-Quebec grid in Canada. In 1921, a solar storm occurred that was ten times strong then the Quebec storm, and in 1859, the Carrington Event was ten times stronger than that.
In any given decade, scientists say, the chance of a Carrington-sized storm hitting the planet could be as high as 10%, though not all scientists agree.
If true, that 10% exceed the chances of an EMP attack on the U.S. by another country. Solar storms are not deterred by the prospect of retaliation by our massive nuclear arsenal.
How To Prepare for an EMP Event
Whether the event comes from a solar storm or a nuclear device, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself and your family against an EMP event.
It’s not the blast itself you should prepare for, but what comes afterwards.
Here’s what you can do to get ready:
1. Construct a Faraday bag or cage to protect critical electronics.
A Faraday cage is a pre-made or homemade box where you can safely store items against the EMP blast. It may be as simple as a microwave oven where you store your smartphone, laptop or tablet. Or it may be a used oven or metal trash can you wrap in aluminum foil.
Even simpler, it could be simply inserting your phone into a plastic baggy, then wrapping it in aluminum foil. Check out these ideas from WikiHow. For more protection, add more layers of plastic and foil.
2. Keep a good collection of non-electric tools nearby.
Start thinking about what life might be without electricity. Build up your supply of battery powered flashlights, hand-crank radios, or even a solar oven.
Stock up on candles or classic oil lamps. Keep a gallon or two of fuel on a shelf where you can quickly access it if needed.
3. Check your food supply for long-term use.
After an EMP attack, there’s no telling how long it would be until electricity is restored. Your survival food supply will become more important than ever. Double check how long your current stores will last, then plan how you will extend them when they run out.
For example, you could be collecting seeds and starting a garden. Make sure you have the garden tools you’ll need to tend the soil and harvest the crops.
Another good idea: increase your supply of canned and dehydrated foods. Having a large supply not only feeds your family, but gives you a valuable trading commodity, as well.
4. Increase your personal protection resources.
Don’t wait for an EMP to occur before you build up your personal security. In an emergency, there could be a run on gun stores, so be sure you have firearms on hand before that happens.
Keep in mind, if people know you have food and water supplies, you may become a target. Stockpile weapons and ammo so you can defend against all intruders.
5. Find new ways to communicate.
If your cell phones are not protected during an EMP attack, they could be practically worthless after it.
So get creative. Look at things like walkie talkies or CB radios. They may not survive a high frequency EMP attack, but might give you limited communications after a lower grade EMP bomb.
Even better, communicate with your entire family what an EMP means and how it will affect their lives. Create a plan that lays out how you can all prepare in advance, then follow the plan.
hat You Need to Know