7 Things That Will Survive an EMP

Claude Nelson
By Claude Nelson January 30, 2016 11:25

7 Things That Will Survive an EMP

Of all the potential disaster threats we face today, an attack by EMP is probably one of the scariest. Properly carried out, an EMP has the potential of sending our lifestyle back by about 100 years, forcing us to live much as our great-grandparents did. The loss of electrical power would turn most of the appliances into useless junk, while the infrastructure we all depend on would suddenly come to a grinding halt.

According to the report of the EMP commission, 90 percent of Americans would die within the first year after an EMP that was set off high enough to cause a coast-to-coast impact. While the earlier deaths would be mostly attributed to people who didn’t have access to the medicine they need, the vast majority would die of starvation. With transportation down, the supply chains would stop, preventing food from being delivered from the farmer to the supermarket. And all perishables would rott in a matter of days.

The problem is that an EMP specifically attacks solid-state electronics. That means that every single item that functions due to an electronic circuit will stop working, with a few exceptions. The electrical grid would go down first. Nobody knows for sure how much it will take to replace all transformers and capacitors if other countries help, but a time-frame of 10-20 months is not far-fetched.

An EMP hits electronics with a two-stage attack.

The first is the direct attack of the electromagnetic pulse, essentially a super-strong radio wave. The first stage attack overloads the electronic devices it encounters. If it encounters electronic devices that have wires attached to them, such as most of our computers and entertainment centers, those wires act as antennas, making the situation worse

The second wave of the attack comes through the electrical grid. The electromagnetic pulse will be attracted to the wires crisscrossing the country. This pulse will race down the wires with the speed of light, just like any other massive voltage spike. Most surge protectors won’t do any good, as they are designed for the slower pulse of a lightning strike.

Most electronic devices will be destroyed. However, there are some things that will survive.

1. Some Cars

car that will Survive an EMPThe common understanding is that cars manufactured after 1990 will stop working instantly. Others say that cars will only be slightly damaged and will easily restart. The EMP Comission performed a test on 37 cars and in laboratory conditions, the cars stopped and restarted. However, the latest fabrication year for the tested cars was 2002. The EMP Commission states that “since 2002, the number of microprocessors in cars and the reliance on microprocessors in all motor vehicles has increased greatly.  Also, the sensitivity of the electronic circuitry to EMP has increased due to the use of smaller electronic components designed to operate on lower voltages.”

As the number of old cars in use is pretty small, we can expect to have blocked roads and highways and severe traffic jam. It’s enough to permanently damage 40%-60% (some sources say even 15%) of cars to block cities, highways and supply lines. Another problem will be in fueling the remaining cars, as the vast majority of fuel is buried in underground tanks. Without working pumps, it can’t be pumped out. Refineries, as well, will stop working without electrical power.

2. Solar Panels

solar panels that will Survive an EMPSurprisingly enough, solar panels can weather an EMP fairly well. They do suffer some damage, reducing their output by about five percent, but they will still work. Since solar power systems are typically designed to provide more power than needed, to account for cloudy days, those who have solar panels on their homes will still have some electrical power for a while, even though it will be somewhat lower.

The problem is that the solar charge controller used to charge the batteries and the voltage inverter that converts the battery power to 120 volts AC, will probably be destroyed by the EMP. So, unless the owner of the solar system has the foresight to store spare parts in a Faraday Cage, their working solar panels won’t do them much good. The best advice would be to keep an invertor in a Faraday cage and change the damaged one.

Related: How to Build Your Own Solar Panels

3. Simple Electrical Devices

generators that will Survive an EMPSimple electrical devices, such as appliances, power tools and wind generators will probably work, as long as they don’t have solid-state electronic controls. The solid state controls would be destroyed by the EMP, but the motors and valves would probably still work. This would depend, in part, on the location of the device and how directly overhead the EMP exploded. Equipment located directly below the explosion would take a harder hit, meaning that these devices may not work.

However, appliances connected to the electric grid have a good chance to get fried. And of course, their ability to function will be limited by the availability of electrical power to run them.

4. Vintage Electronic Devices

electronics that will Survive an EMPIt is commonly believed that older, vintage electronic devices, from the time that vacuum tubes were still in use, would survive. Vacuum tubes are by definition the opposite of solid state electronics. The best available information says that vacuum tubes are not affected by EMP. Back when atomic weapons were first developed, the only electronic devices they had to work with used vacuum tubes and they were not affected.

5. Batteries and Battery Operated Electronics

battery operated devicesThere is a possibility that battery operated electronic devices, such as cell phones, would survive the EMP, especially if they were in metal roofed or concrete buildings. These devices would not be connected to the electrical grid and the roofs of the buildings would act to shield them from the direct assault of the EMP. As long as they weren’t connected to a charger, which would connect them to the electrical grid, they should survive.

However, this wouldn’t be very helpful: telecommunication antennas will be fried so signal (on any kind) will be dead.

6. Items in Faraday Cages

faraday cage items testA Faraday Cage is any metal container which is totally enclosed. Being made of metal, it effectively blocks the passage of radio waves. As long as the cage is totally enclosed and the electronic devices inside are not in direct contact with the metal, they are protected from an EMP.

Related: 10 Faraday Cages You Can Make at Home

Some have said that an EMP can be made of screening or chicken wire and it would be just as effective. While a Faraday Cage of this sort is useful to block out electronic spying, it is unsure whether or not it will effectively block an EMP. There has not been enough testing to state with certainty that such a Faraday Cage would work effectively. However, a metal garbage can most likely would.

Read more: What To Store In A Faraday Cage For EMP Protection?

7. Inventory in Warehouses

Warehouses are almost universally metal buildings. As such, they are all Faraday Cages. That means that the stock stored in those warehouses, which is pretty much always wrapped in some sort of non-conductive material, should survive the EMP. That’s a lot of electronics! The question remains, when would we be able to use them again?

This being said, it’s never too early to organize your own Faraday cage. You can use any metal container, just be sure to add bubblewarp or cardboard or even dry old clothes to make sure your items stay off the metal walls. Remember: you need to be prepared in order to survive!

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Claude Nelson
By Claude Nelson January 30, 2016 11:25
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78 Comments

  1. Redhorse702 January 30, 13:53

    I’m interested

    Reply to this comment
  2. Mark January 30, 13:55

    Would a standard home with a metal roof and the roof hooked up to ground rods withstand an EMP attack? Would the short burst go to ground in the rods/

    Reply to this comment
    • C. Davis January 30, 14:22

      no, Mark. The roof won’t help. You can always test it with a radio. If a radio works inside the house, then everything inside will be affected.

      Reply to this comment
    • just April 2, 15:31

      would stucco work as a faraday box

      Reply to this comment
      • The Ohio Prepper April 3, 16:44

        Just,

        would stucco work as a faraday box

        I assume you mean the metal mesh nailed to the house to hold the stucco plaster in place, since the plaster itself would be of no use. While any metal mesh can attenuate and EMP and perhaps cast electrical shadows into the interior space, I would not count on the stucco mesh to do anything more than hold the plaster. There is simply no easy answer for EMP mitigation.

        Reply to this comment
  3. Unkus January 30, 15:55

    If the grid is down and there is no power, it won’t matter what would work.

    Reply to this comment
    • fee April 20, 00:06

      Not true. If you have something that can be used for power, you can use your devices. But you have to make sure that you have everything you will need (and back up) stored away in Faraday! You have to really research all this; it gets complicated! But people who understand all of what’s going on can work it! Takes plenty of know how and preparation and of course money!

      Reply to this comment
      • Lionheart January 11, 09:57

        I have a solar panel to charge my ham radio and back up batteries. Samething for my ipod. It works.

        Reply to this comment
      • JohnInOkla September 18, 18:19

        So you have a few pockets of people scattered all over the US/world with small power plants, how is that going to help you? I don’t see how having some power is going to be beneficial to anyone unless there is some way to get news and/or information. Someone has to be providing that news or information on a major scale like radio/tv does now.

        Reply to this comment
        • The Ohio Prepper September 19, 12:51

          JohnInOkla,

          I don’t see how having some power is going to be beneficial to anyone unless there is some way to get news and/or information.

          If you have power to run a radio, or a self contained / self powered radio like the Baygen or Kaito Voyager you have the ability to listen to broadcasts from around the world.

          Someone has to be providing that news or information on a major scale like radio/tv does now.

          Prior to the networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) and long before the cable news networks like CNN, Fox, etc. we had local coverage that could well end up going national via relays of radio operators. In the Amateur radio (ham radio) community, we provide a lot of local information, especially during weather related events, and communication for disasters. During events like Katrina, Harvey, and others, we were often the only communications in and out of an area.
          In the last 24 hours I have had radio communications throughout my state and with people as far away as the big island of Hawaii.
          With a license and equipment you can communicate; but, without a license, you can still listen and glean information.

          Reply to this comment
    • El Codo December 2, 01:01

      As a PhD candidate in electromagnetics, there is a thousand times error in some of these assumptions. No. 1 evaluate EMP in automotive in the presence of MOV and TVS devices. Secondly. What effects does a mega million volt transmission or distribution line lightning strike? Thirdly Bluetooth connectivity via body control modules then engine control units is missing. The entire discussion is hopelessly flawed.

      Reply to this comment
      • The Ohio Prepper January 1, 23:04

        El Codo

        As a PhD candidate in electromagnetics, there is a thousand times error in some of these assumptions. No. 1 evaluate EMP in automotive in the presence of MOV and TVS devices. Secondly. What effects does a mega million volt transmission or distribution line lightning strike? Thirdly Bluetooth connectivity via body control modules then engine control units is missing. The entire discussion is hopelessly flawed.

        I think you are thinking too much like an engineer, looking at the theoretical and not the probable or potentially possible. While my EE degrees were earned 45 years ago, a 40 year career that included ESD vulnerability and compliance testing can show us that sometimes the “impossible” can happen. I think we both understand that there are too many unknown variables in this equation to yield a real answer; but, what most people are looking for is some type of mitigation that may help some of their equipment to survive. Something concrete that they can accomplish that will give them hope that otherwise could lead to despair. There are numerous techniques like shielding, ferrites, and physical spares that can potentially mitigate and individual location; but, the entire power grid is very vulnerable and our only hope is that the U.S. Congress will finally raise this issue to a high enough priority to do something about it. Large scale mitigation by the power utilities is possible; but, erquires funding and prioritization.

        Reply to this comment
      • The Ohio Prepper September 19, 13:20

        El Codo,

        As a PhD candidate in electromagnetics, there is a thousand times error in some of these assumptions . . . . The entire discussion is hopelessly flawed.

        As a retired EE, I’m still waiting for your input as to possible solutions, other than an assertion of the flaws.
        While engineers need to be realistic, and understand the weak areas of a system, Solutions and mitigation are what we are paid to do.
        I would welcome you input beyond simply critizism.

        Reply to this comment
    • Kay Kay March 1, 13:54

      Will people living in apartments survive a EMP or do we need to purchase a generator or a portable one.

      Reply to this comment
      • WTC April 30, 11:09

        No. ONE LIVING will survive. BECAUSE THE SOUND OF THAT CRAZY BITCH THAT IS HEARD GLOBAL SATELLITES ELECTRONIC WARFARE it sounds LIKE some one talking OVER a big microphone. Sh e NEVER shuts up..Y 911 and terrorism this FUCKING crazy BITCH in TUOLUMNE county. CA.at TUOLUMNE apts has 2 sacerfice/ kill people 2save herself. It IS stupid. By the legal system in TUOLUMNE county The DA.. is the REASON why they do this BECAUSE she NEVER WANTS ME TO HAVE CHILDREN and BE TORTURED Amanda Is the REASON why it is done D8 .. she runs the INTIRE legal system in TUOLUMNE county. If you want the EMP NOT TO HAPPEN THEN HAVE HER TAKEN OUT. SHE IS THE REASON WHY THEY USE ELECTRONIC WARFARE WEAPONS TO HARASS EVERYONE WORLD WIDE. SHE GETS HER WAY BECAUSE BRAD IS IN LOVE WITH HER. SHE LOVES TO CREATE TERRORISM AGAINST THE UNITED STATES AND WORLD WIDE Wars by using satellite TO torture EVERY ONE WORLD wide all BECAUSE she WANTS EVERYONE TO use ME for human sacrifice for THEM TO HAVE CHILDREN . That IS why the EMP IS planned against the United states TO KILL her BECAUSE EVERYONE doesn’t want TO hear her annoying big mouth THAT NEVER shuts the FUCK up.

        Reply to this comment
        • Tex May 8, 22:47

          Hey man……please take your meds and make another appointment with your shrink. You need a nice long break from this reality. At least that’s what Amanda thinks…….

          Reply to this comment
      • The Ohio Prepper September 20, 00:46

        Kay Kay,

        Will people living in apartments survive a EMP or do we need to purchase a generator or a portable one.

        People in most cases will survive the EMP event; but, there will be potentially no mains power after the event, so if you have the resources and skills to survive in an apartment for some time, perhaps several months, you could come out OK.
        That means a water source, and easy to prepare foods, heating in cold weather and resources for sanitation. Pretty much the same things you would need for any gird down situation from natural events such as hurricanes, blizzards, ice storms, etc.

        Reply to this comment
  4. Chicory January 30, 17:08

    I have a question. If it is as simple as enclosing you electronics in a steel building wouldn’t there be generating stations still functioning? Or is the problem that the wires leading from those stations be fried?

    Reply to this comment
    • Rod February 1, 16:41

      Chicory, the problem with our power generation system is multi-level. EMP will take out the transformers due to over voltage spikes caused by the EMP. These are all transformers on the system (which are not made in the US). Replacement will take years. Second, the generator coils will be shorted. Again, replacement will take years. Lastly, the solid state controls, wireless control links, and the support system will be down as well. The power companies are well aware of all of the above but the technology to protect these assets cost $$$ which they are loathe to spend. There may be isolated pockets of power, but fuel re-supply and maintenance issues will eventually come into play with those. It is a very bleak scenario.

      Reply to this comment
      • high volt guy June 5, 01:33

        wouldn’t the backup transformers at power plants and sub stations be un effected as they are not connected to the grid and have all points tied to ground?

        Reply to this comment
        • Black Stream January 11, 20:14

          Most powerplants and substations don’t have back-up transformers.

          Reply to this comment
        • The Ohio Prepper November 17, 16:41

          high volt guy,

          wouldn’t the backup transformers at power plants and sub stations be un effected as they are not connected to the grid and have all points tied to ground?

          All utilities keep a limited supply of transformers on hand to service their customer base; but, the large expensive transformers are generally custom ordered with only a few replacements available, and most of not all of the large transformers in substation all over the grid, will be damaged or destroyed. I had my line transformer fail a few years ago and the local Cooperative replaced it that day. It hangs on a pole and transforms 16000 volts to 240 center tap at 200 amperes for my house.
          Not far from here is a substation that contains transformers and additional electrical components to handle both 345,000 and 765,000 volts, and these transformers are highly specialized, very large (physically) and expensive. Even the additional electrical components (capacitors and inductors) for phase control at those voltages are similarly expensive and complex / custom so they cannot afford to keep too many spares on hand.

          Reply to this comment
    • The Ohio Prepper September 20, 01:59

      Chicory,

      If it is as simple as enclosing you electronics in a steel building wouldn’t there be generating stations still functioning? Or is the problem that the wires leading from those stations be fried?

      It is not the wires that are damaged; however, the wires act as antennas and conduct energy into other gear in the system. Some generation facilities may still work as may some of the transformers and other gear; but, since the system relies on many components, a failure of even one will isolate large areas and make them go dark.
      To power that light bulb in your house, the power is generated by a generation facility that could be hundreds or thousands of miles away. That power is sent Cross Country via transmission lines spanning the country with those tall metal towers you see everywhere with voltages as high as 765,000 volts.
      Other substations with transformers and other gear, step that voltage down to lower voltages in the 7,200-16000 volt range for distribution to your location. Those wires down the street then power other transformers that step those 7,200-16,000 volts down to the 240 center tap to power your house, and eventually light that light bulb.
      Break any wire, transformer, or other component in the chain, and you have no power at your outlet.
      I often think it’s a miracle that it works as well as it does.

      Reply to this comment
  5. left coast chuck January 30, 17:53

    The generating stations are connected to the electric grid. The wires of the grid would conduct the emp pulse into the generating station, shorting it out. From what I have read, unlike normal generated electricity which drops in strength the further it travels, an emp pulse gains strength the further it travels. This seems counter intuitive to me, but that seems to be the general consensus. Realize that all postulations about the effects of an emp pulse are theoretical in nature. Even the car test was stopped as I understand, because it was wrecking some of the cars which belonged to individuals conducting the test. If the government were actually concerned and conducting extensive testing, so much might not be unknown. The unknown is always scarier than the known.

    Reply to this comment
    • Dropzone January 30, 19:20

      Hello left coast chuck,

      While it true the wires would conduct the EMP pulse to the generation station, the control systems would be at risk due to the electronics, The generators themselves due to there mass, not as likely to suffer extensive damage.

      Think of the pulse as an induction generator, that is to say the field generated will induce a magnetic field on the power transmission lines, phone lines cable TV lines etc. This induced voltage will travel thru the “wire” until it see’s an end point (your stuff plugged in and turned on).

      The initial pulse will also act directly on semi-conductors with a “line on sight” to the blast, a semi-conductor as you may know uses materials that conduct electrical energy (one electron at a time in most cases, think transistors) because on the way they conduct electrical energy they are at risk with the blast pulse, distance to blast and blast yield, and shielding will determine what fails.

      Shielding like a Faraday cage protects the “line of sight” issue, all items in the Faraday cage would be by definition not connected to the grid to be damaged by the secondary induced pulse.

      Hope I did not over simplify a complex issue.

      Reply to this comment
    • The Ohio Prepper May 26, 22:23

      left coast chuck
      When you state:
      The generating stations are connected to the electric grid. The wires of the grid would conduct the emp pulse into the generating station, shorting it out.

      You are partially correct. From the overvoltage induced by the EMP, the windings of the transformer can arc to each other and cause shorts that makes the transformer unstable or unusable. Additionally, that same energy can destroy contactors and control systems.

      And then:
      From what I have read, unlike normal generated electricity which drops in strength the further it travels, an emp pulse gains strength the further it travels. This seems counter intuitive to me, but that seems to be the general consensus.

      This is not a consensus; but, a basic misunderstanding of the physics of how EMP interacts with the wires to induce a voltage. If you think of it as an antenna connected to a radio receiving a weak signal, often increasing the length of the antenna to interact with a larger signal area can increase the signal enough to get better reception because the EM file of the transmitter had more wire to induce more enrgy into the antenna.
      In the case of the power grid, the transmission lines that act as antennas stretch for hundreds of miles, and with the EM Pulse traveling from a high altitude, the energy can interact and induce voltage into every point on the wire that is miles long, so it does not increase as it travels down the wire; but, each point of the wire with which it interacts adds energy to the entire system.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Dropzone January 30, 18:43

    Please site your data for the solar panels. One might think that since the panel is a bunch of semi conductors that the panels would be very sensitive to a real EMP blast. Your thoughts?

    Reply to this comment
    • Rod February 1, 16:28

      I share your concerns. I have yet to see documented EMP tests of “solar panels”. Their design and manufacturing techniques are very diverse so while one might sustain little damage another might become nothing more than a sunshade. Until these consumer items are actually tested by a certified lab it is anyone’s guess as to what will really happen.

      Reply to this comment
    • Hiker Dave October 22, 02:14

      It comes down to a semiconductor’s junction size. The junctions in transistors are microscopic, and those in integrated circuits are even smaller. Depending upon their designed functions they can only take so much voltage/current before they fail. Solar cells are semiconductors too but their junctions are huge so power is distributed over a large area so an EMP/CME won’t cause much damage if any. But while the cells are safe many panels have micro inverters on them. Those will be destroyed. Best to use just straight panels with DC output. Of course everything down stream will be destroyed. Best to have a backup of inverters, charge controllers, etc. stored in your Faraday cages. Mine are metal trash cans. And BTW, the can does not have to be lined with any non-conductive material nor does it have to be grounded. Just keep the lid on tight.

      Reply to this comment
  7. jpsmith January 31, 00:43

    Electronic devices would not be destroyed if they are not powered up… Like a radio or your vehicle, if the battery was disconnected… EMP’s are in air, a strong electric pulse…

    Reply to this comment
  8. Farmer February 1, 01:25

    Not everything metal creates a Faraday cage …. wee little holes let electrical impulses in to destroy the electronics inside these imperfect cages. Some electronics might survive a 10-15 kv/m pulse, but get up around 50 kv/m and you had better have all the holes sealed up tight.

    Reply to this comment
    • The Ohio Prepper September 20, 11:43

      Farmer,

      Some electronics might survive a 10-15 kv/m pulse, but get up around 50 kv/m and you had better have all the holes sealed up tight.

      This is highly depended on the frequency i.e., pulse duration of the pulse.
      Shorter duration, higher frequency pulses may pass energy through tiny holes based on wavelength of the pulse and the size of the hole relative to that wavelength, while longer duration pulses would still be blocked.
      There are simply too many variables to make a definitive answer when using anything other than an ungrounded seamless solid container.

      Reply to this comment
  9. Rod February 1, 16:24

    One thing that was not mentioned was broadcast stations. There WILL be broadcast stations working post event. There will not be a lot of them, but there will be a few that have been specially constructed and supplied to keep news and information flowing. Having a good crank type radio in a shielded container is essential. Tube type radios should work IF, (big if) you can find power for them. Tubes are huge energy hogs and tube equipment is of an age that many of their other parts have degraded to the point of being useless. Solid state crank type radios stored in a shielded environment are a much better choice.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Ray White February 2, 22:42

    1. Most American cars built after 1974 had at least some computerized parts. So you really want a car built in 1974 or before.

    2. If your solar panels have built-in Inverters (so-called micro-inverters) the diodes in them will be fried. The panels will still generate electricity but none of it will get to you.

    3. Battery operated electronics will continue to function so long as they don’t contain transistors or other such components.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Badger February 3, 01:51

    I’ve wondered about LED flashlights. Would an EMP destroy the light emitting diode? I know the battery should be fine, but the LED is exposed.

    Reply to this comment
    • Troy January 24, 02:35

      LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) would most likely be a problem. Diodes are a solid state device.
      Troy.
      #

      Reply to this comment
      • The Ohio Prepper April 9, 20:24

        Troy,

        LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) would most likely be a problem. Diodes are a solid state device.

        Simply being a solid state device doesn’t make them vulnerable, it depends on the junction size, and the external wiring being large enough to collect the radio energy from the pulse, in a sufficient amount to damage the junction. A typical aluminum tube with batteries and an LED head could quite possibly be fine, since the metal tube encapsulates most of the internal circuitry and shields most of it. Recharging the batteries once they run out would be the big problem to solve.

        Reply to this comment
  12. Larry March 7, 01:20

    Can I build a faraday cage by gluing foil to plywood????

    Reply to this comment
  13. McFiesto March 7, 15:51

    Does ESD (Electro Static Discharge) material like the special pink plastic wrap that electronic components come with provide enough protection to protect from an EMP?

    Reply to this comment
  14. Pappa Bear March 19, 19:46

    I believe that anyone with a solar array either large or small should automatically assume that the array will be destroyed by a massive EMP. have some sort of backup plan that will provide a modest amount of power to be used in an emergency.possibly have some backup panels in storage that are wrapped in foil or other form of Faraday cage. The best thing overall is to be prepared to live for many years with no form of electrical power whatsoever. our ancestors did it for their entire lives and survive quite well. We can do that too.

    Reply to this comment
    • Mindbreaker April 7, 05:43

      Sorry, without electricity at least 40% of people in the US would die, and possibly up to 90%. There are a lot more people than there was 140 years ago, and they were younger and healthier. Electricity pumps our water, treats our sewage, pumps our fuel, runs our AC, medical equipment, factories that make our medicines…
      Where are the horses, the plows, the labor? Half of Americans are so arthritic or fat they can’t bend down to the ground to pick a strawberry.
      And no they did not survive well before electricity. Life expectancy in the US in 1890 was 42.5 years. It currently stands at 78.7 Though it would be higher if it was not for opioid abuse. And the deaths around the world as US food exports fell to nothing would be catastrophic. $72 billion worth of food.

      Reply to this comment
      • The Ohio Prepper April 9, 20:54

        Mindbreaker,

        Sorry, without electricity at least 40% of people in the US would die, and possibly up to 90%. There are a lot more people than there was 140 years ago, and they were younger and healthier

        There are indeed a lot more people than there were in the late 1800’s; but, they were not any younger than our average current population. I agree that a large number of people, especially in the cities would perish quickly, and those that survived would not last that long, since the city infrastructure would most likely fail from either lack of power or lack of man power. The people that keep all of that infrastructure running would be affected and would have to decide between hunkering down with the family or going to an unpaid job and trying to keep things running.

        Electricity pumps our water, treats our sewage, pumps our fuel, runs our AC, medical equipment, factories that make our medicines

        This is true and the reason those who prep would do well to decentralize. I can pump my own water and treat my own sewage and have been doing so for the past 35 years. While AC is nice, you would need to rely more on shade and fans with perhaps some misters or wet rags for cooling.

        Where are the horses, the plows, the labor? Half of Americans are so arthritic or fat they can’t bend down to the ground to pick a strawberry.

        Those horses live right here on the property and around us with the local Amish, and I don’t know which half of the American population you know; but, here in rural Ohio even we old folk don’t fit your assertions. Arthritis is just something that happens with age; but, in my late 60’s I still get around and bend over quite well thank you, as do friends both older and younger than I.

        And no they did not survive well before electricity. Life expectancy in the US in 1890 was 42.5 years. It currently stands at 78.7

        This is correct; but, has little to do with electricity, since our local Amish still live to be quite old living with their horses, wells, wood stoves, and lanterns.
        The biggest improvement in longevity has to do with the medical field, starting with antibiotics in 1928 and into the 1930’s along with other medications and medical procedures and devices. These of course all required electricity at some point in development; but, they would not all go away in a grid down, especially if one were to keep a supply of them on hand as I do.

        Reply to this comment
  15. Chelleyspinelli September 12, 02:56

    Hi there! Just read your article and have a question. We are building a metal building home with a metal roof and walls on concrete foundation. Does this mean anything within our home not touching metal or plugged in would be safe? Also, what about stored in a concrete storm shelter underground? We were thinking about using the trashcan method and storing those in our storm shelter. Thanks!

    Reply to this comment
  16. Alistair September 26, 14:36

    I know gas would he an issue but would a generator withstand the initial EMP? I ask because it’s a simple motor and it’s not plugged into the grid. Sorry if it’s a stupid question but I can’t seem to find a concise answer.

    Reply to this comment
  17. dd September 27, 20:23

    put all small electronics in water like a fish tank. my youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-K3ltOJwmA

    Reply to this comment
  18. Bobby December 11, 18:36

    Can circuit breakers protect grids?

    Reply to this comment
  19. This article is ridiculous February 20, 02:26

    The amount of misinformation about how EMPs affect electronics and how to protect from them contained in this article is alarming. Primary EMP impact is overloading diode junctions, contained in essentially everything with a circuit board. A warehouse is NOT a faraday cage – a faraday cage must be continuous and grounded, with no gaps in the metal larger than the wavelength that needs to be blocked. Does the warehouse have a door? Then it’s not good enough. Is your small metal box grounded with an 8’ pole buried underground with heavy gauge copper grounding wire? This is mandatory. Protecting stuff against EMP damage is pointless as others have implied. Your time is far better spent learning how to live off the land rather tha making sure your cordless drill still works.

    Reply to this comment
    • SortingHat June 30, 12:00

      what about trains? steam trains should survive.

      Reply to this comment
    • The Ohio Prepper November 17, 15:53

      The amount of misinformation about how EMPs affect electronics and how to protect from them contained in this article is alarming.

      I agree that most people do not understand the effect an EMP has on electronics, nor do they understand the physics of a Faraday cage.

      Primary EMP impact is overloading diode junctions, contained in essentially everything with a circuit board.

      This is true; but, there needs to be a conductive path and energy collection system (e.g. an antenna) to collect enough energy to overload the junction. A small unconnected electronic device like a cell phone or thumb drive is not likely to be damaged, even sitting alone on a bench or table. Storing it in a drawer of a metal desk or filing cabinet can further reduce the impact by adding a layer of shielding to attenuate the energy. Wrapping devices in several layers of metal foil can also add a layer of protection, and layered and distributed protection is always the best bet, to avoid single points of failure.

      A warehouse is NOT a faraday cage – a faraday cage must be continuous and grounded, with no gaps in the metal larger than the wavelength that needs to be blocked. Does the warehouse have a door? Then it’s not good enough. Is your small metal box grounded with an 8’ pole buried underground with heavy gauge copper grounding wire?

      Ah, the grounding myth mentioned once again. The only thing grounding can do is that during the EMP event, someone touching the metal enclosure could receive a nasty shock on an ungrounded system; but, unless the ground is kept very short and constructed of heavy braid, it is more likely to act as an antenna than a ground. Ground systems are required to mitigate lightning, since there is an electric field potential involved; but, an EMP has no potential until it moves across / through a conductor. (Refer to Faraday’s law of induction).

      This is mandatory. Protecting stuff against EMP damage is pointless as others have implied. Your time is far better spent learning how to live off the land rather tha making sure your cordless drill still works.

      EMP mitigation is done all of the time and only requires a knowledge of physics, which you don’t seem to have based on your insistence on grounding, and some out of the box thinking.
      Rather than trying to protect all of your stuff in a warehouse or other facility, it is easier and more fail safe to protect little things in a distributed manner. Disconnecting anything that does not need to be connected and wrapping items in metal foil and storing them in metal containers, all add layers that are easy, and while perhaps not fail safe provide the best bet at low cost of EMP mitigation.
      I have taken and taught many classes in wilderness survival and can tell you that attempting to live off the land for more than a very short period is insanity, especially if you are competing with everyone else trying to do the same.
      For long term survival, you need stored food, a way to make potable water, and ways to heat and light your shelter. The stored food needs to be able to feed you until you can get your garden and any livestock producing what you need, perhaps adding hunting and foraging as a supplement. Today the options for heating and lighting off grid are plentiful and I have many of them, collected and tested over a 45+ year time line.

      Reply to this comment
  20. Jill March 28, 21:44

    I have an 80 acre off the grid prop in NW Montana powered by 40 KW hydro supplied by year round gravity flow water. Anyone interested?

    Reply to this comment
  21. Alli May 17, 11:54

    Is there a way to create a faraday cage like environment in your home? I realize what’s plugged in will be damaged but let’s say nothing is plugged in at the time? Or if you can make a stoarage she’d like a big faraday cage.

    Reply to this comment
  22. Crask May 28, 16:55

    What about DVDs, CDs, tape recording mediums like VHS tapes? I mean, I imagine putting them in the microwave, and I don’t think they’d survive a microwave, but would they survive the lesser brutal EMP from a once in 1 to 2 century solar flare?

    What about Hard disk drives and Solid State drives? What about the USB flash drives?

    Will our data be deleted?

    Reply to this comment
    • The Ohio Prepper November 17, 16:14

      Crask,

      What about DVDs, CDs, tape recording mediums like VHS tapes? I mean, I imagine putting them in the microwave, and I don’t think they’d survive a microwave, but would they survive the lesser brutal EMP from a once in 1 to 2 century solar flare?

      Since none of these items have diode junctions they would all survive both the induced current from a HEMP or a CME; but, the equipment to play them could well be damaged. unless disconnected and safely stored, at which point you would still need power to run the equipment.

      What about Hard disk drives and Solid State drives? What about the USB flash drives?
      Will our data be deleted?

      The data on magnetic media would most likely not be deleted; but, the device controller for the hard drive and perhaps the entire solid state drive could be damaged, I copy all of my data to sets of thumb drives (USB flash drives) that are now high capacity and inexpensive. Recently I picked up a few of the smallest available and they were 32GB. Once the data is copied to them, I wrap them in metal foil and store them in a desk drawer. Once again, the problem is how to access the data after the dust settles. I keep several older inexpensive monitors set aside and several Raspberry Pi systems on hand for that purpose. As a retired engineer with more than 50 years working with software and electronics, these are my options; but, they may not work for others.

      Reply to this comment
  23. Bunker Bob September 12, 19:41

    I find your mention of the Faraday cage to be interesting–sounds like it would be a good spot to put your bug out bag and other essentials. Thanks for sharing, Claude.

    I’ve shared similar tips regarding how to develop an escape plan on my blog: https://bunkerbasics.com/how-to-create-a-shtf-escape-plan/

    Reply to this comment
  24. JT October 24, 07:44

    Lol I may be incredibly satisfied with the fact that this post is now 2 years old, but that still doesn’t excuse the blatant ignorance of this article. Take some electrical engineering courses at your local community college, then MAYBE consider coming back and updating your “factual” information.

    Reply to this comment
    • JimmyD February 11, 21:10

      Your ignorance of the subject is outdone only by your willingness to profess it, and proportional to your lack of proof that it is inaccurate.

      Reply to this comment
  25. bubbada December 29, 03:18

    Pink plastic is a soap coated moisture attracting layer that distributes any static charge across the surface of a container of esd devices. It has a tendency to dry out and provide not any protection.

    Reply to this comment
  26. Kova January 23, 02:29

    This is a great discussion with great ideas. Thanks everyone for contributing.

    I am a ME and EE with 25 years as a PE. I mostly work with the Controls systems others are talking about in the posts. I know the second after an HAEMP, we are SUPERF*CKED! I live in the suburbs of Chicago and am from a small town in South Dakota. If this were to ever happen, that is where I would go.

    Most Tranmission Transformers are produced in Germany with a 12 to 24 month lead time. If the US were to be attacked….you can bet Europe will come shortly before or after. Wishful thinking that the grid will be back up in 5 years or less is only that. No one is going to be thinking about the lights coming back on after the 1st week. Most are going to be worried about feeding themselves and their families. Others without food will resort to the worst behaviors to get the supplies they need. The toilets won’t flush….that’ll kill a ton of people. People will be killing one another. The fact is an HAEMP will stop the lives of almost everyone you know….some of those people in regular times might be the linemen, truckers, sailers, and engineers that would normally ship the transformers and commission them. I have very very low expectations of what human nature will turn in to if an EMP or CME were to occur. I only hope I can get my small family back to the family ranch in SD. I’ve prepped a 1989 AM General and a 76 F100, hopefully one will work, but again I have low expectations…..coils? Glow plugs? Spark plugs, distributors, alternators…..no one really knows how they will be effected. And one person will say 5 layers to your farraday cage and others will say 1 with insulation. God only knows. There just isn’t any real data to support or undermine any assertions as this point.

    The positive thing is that we are all thinking about this. It’s had me terrified since 9/11. To get through college I joined the NROTC, and served in the USMC…..sadly, I am convinced the skills I learned as a rifleman and platoon leader will be far more valuable than my subsequent masters degrees in engineering.

    If this calamity ever happens I wish you all the best, but realistically I have low expectations about the goodness of starving and thirsty people with kids.

    Reply to this comment
  27. Martin/Savage Listener February 24, 03:17

    Will household batteries power a flashlight?

    Reply to this comment
    • troyf February 25, 21:15

      Most likely, yes. LED light bulbs may not though. Incandescent light bulbs might.

      Reply to this comment
      • The Ohio Prepper February 27, 13:07

        This is where you might want to keep some spare. LED lighting is now inexpensive enough to keep extras on hand, sans batteries & stored in a metal box. A stock of alkaline batteries will keep these things running for a long time or standard NiMh or Lithium Ion rechargeable batteries with a way to recharge via solar or from a USB or 12 VDC outlets in a vehicle.
        Small electronics like the Cree LED module used in many lights, stored separately are likely to be undamaged.
        BTW, if the site owner can deliver HTML mail it would make accessing the email comments more easy.

        Reply to this comment
        • Savage Listener March 3, 04:58

          What will be contaminated as far as canned goods, dry meat, and liquids that are sealed?

          My wife and I have made it a mandate to make preparations once a week to stock on different items for different needs as they are on sale at lower end stores.

          Will charcoal and lighter fluid be an accurate source of heat to cook with?

          We have a well.
          Will the well water be contaminated and will bottled water be contaminated, because we will be stocked up on that.

          Will a bedside commode be practical in the need of relieving ones urine, and waste?
          If so, would it be practical to barrel burn the waste?

          Is stock piling fire wood a must do?

          Is purchasing a racoon sized game trap ideal for an addition to food source in case of food prep runs out?

          Will bagged dog food be contaminated, or is it best to purchase canned dog food?
          I’m thinking, we’ll need the dogs for the alertness of trespassers and defense against such as the like.

          How will we keep outside growth down such as grass, bushes and trees that may cause rodents, insects and obstruct adequate viewing sight in perimeter of our property?

          Specifically…
          Which of what fire arms do you recommend for the defense from trespassers and Reuters?

          Are candles a great source of light?

          Do you recommend bicycles as a practical source of transportation?

          Please be specific and as detailed as possible in answering these questions.

          That Savage Podcast really spoke to me.

          No deal with Kim Jon Mentally ILL.

          So this can happen anytime within the next few years.

          Time is not a thing to waste.
          Thank you.
          Martin Nelson.
          Weatherford Tx.

          Reply to this comment
          • The Ohio Prepper March 3, 08:02

            Savage Listener,
            Assuming we’re still talking about just an EMP and not knowing your situation, I’ll give you my suggestions.

            What will be contaminated as far as canned goods, dry meat, and liquids that are sealed?

            EMP is basically a large radio wave pulse that will not “contaminate” anything, unless of course the nuclear explosion that caused it is close enough to cover your area with radioactive fallout, in which case the sealed containers will most likely still be fine; but, will need to be cleaned before opening.

            My wife and I have made it a mandate to make preparations once a week to stock on different items for different needs as they are on sale at lower end stores.

            You should only buy what you eat and continue to eat what you buy, with a good way to do this being “can copying”, meaning when you run out of beans, buy two instead of the one replacement, and more if they are on sale. If you do this for all of the common items you eat you will soon have a nice stockpile with little effort. We always date the cans with a Sharpie and rotate the oldest out first.

            Will charcoal and lighter fluid be an accurate source of heat to cook with?

            For cooking yes; but, keep in mind that the way charcoal burns will by design produce a lot of CO (Carbon Monoxide), so it should only be used in a well ventilated area or outside. You might look for a butane or propane camp stove or look to use a rocket stove outside or even in an open garage bay.
            We heat and cook with propane and have tons on hand; but, also have a dual fuel Coleman cam stove and a single burner butane stove, plus the ability to heat & cook with wood. The more methods you have, the better off you are, since as we all know, “2 is 1, and 1 is None.”

            We have a well.
            Will the well water be contaminated and will bottled water be contaminated, because we will be stocked up on that.

            The bottled water should be fine, and the well will also be fine assuming it has a casing that is not open to the environment. Our well is actually in the basement and most modern wells are relatively well sealed. You will however need some way to draw water from the well if the EMP takes down the power, which it undoubtedly will, at least for a while.

            Will a bedside commode be practical in the need of relieving ones urine, and waste?

            In our case we have a well & septic system; but, your solution while messy, should be fine; but, make sure you have enough sawdust, wood chips, etc. to help with the waste. Practical is often what you can afford.

            If so, would it be practical to barrel burn the waste?

            Probably after drying it out, which will depend in part on your location, rural, vs. Urban or Suburban and with the neighbors to go with it.

            Is stock piling fire wood a must do?

            Assuming you have a place to burn it for heat &/or cooking, and live in a climate where it gets cold enough to need it for primary or secondary heat.

            Is purchasing a racoon sized game trap ideal for an addition to food source in case of food prep runs out?

            For raccoons there is a specific Dog Proof Coon Trap; but, trapping, like hunting is not called shopping for a good reason, so it should be something you know how to do now including how to properly field dress the animal and then dress the meat and preserve it. There are numerous types of traps and sets that you need to practice when you are not hungry and potentially desperate.

            Will bagged dog food be contaminated, or is it best to purchase canned dog food?
            I’m thinking, we’ll need the dogs for the alertness of trespassers and defense against such as the like.

            A sealed bag should be fine, assuming you also keep the open bag in some container like a trash can with a lid.

            How will we keep outside growth down such as grass, bushes and trees that may cause rodents, insects and obstruct adequate viewing sight in perimeter of our property?

            Purchase and learn to use a machete, a sickle, &/or a scythe.

            Which of what fire arms do you recommend for the defense from trespassers and Reuters?

            Ask 10 people this question and you will get at least20 opinions. I keep a variety of handguns, rifles, and shotguns on hand; but, more importantly, you need enough ammunition to run them and have the training and the skill to use them safely. It depends at least in part on your budget; but, almost any firearm is better than a baseball bat or a rock..

            Are candles a great source of light?

            Not Great but adequate in a pinch. Rechargeable batteries with solar rechargers and LED flashlights and lanterns are our go to, with Coleman and Aladdin lanterns and a supply of fuel, followed by candles. The Coleman and Aladdin mantle lanterns can also provide a rather good source of heat when operating.

            Do you recommend bicycles as a practical source of transportation?

            If you live somewhere they can be used and are fit enough to use them, yes.

            So this can happen anytime within the next few years.

            Possibly; but, it could have happened from any rogue state like Iran in the past few decades. I would be planning more for local emergencies like tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, job loss, or major illness etc, depending on the specific threats where you live.

            Reply to this comment
  28. Martin/Savage Listener March 3, 05:09

    I would think that anything with wires, to a power source such as a battery or transformer will not work right, since the EMP pulsates waves that run against the currents of electricity right?

    Reply to this comment
    • The Ohio Prepper March 3, 08:12

      Martin/Savage Listener,

      I would think that anything with wires, to a power source such as a battery or transformer will not work right, since the EMP pulsates waves that run against the currents of electricity right?

      It’s a bit more complex than that. Any wire will act as an antenna and the EMP will induce a current in that antenna. The length of the antenna and what it is connected to will determine the damage. A short wire connected to a battery or a transformer may not cause any damage; but, when connected to a solid state device like a computer or radio, the current can induce voltages high enough to damage the small semiconductor structures. You need to at least understand the basics of Ohms law to even have an inkling of this phenomenon.

      Reply to this comment
  29. Matt March 9, 02:58

    Hey there does anyone know if an EMP can destroy automatic or quartz watches?

    Reply to this comment
    • The Ohio Prepper March 9, 06:47

      Matt,
      The operative word in your question is “can”.
      The energy in an EMP is a huge, wide band pulse of radio energy that upon crossing a conductor induces a current. The same thing happens when the signal from your local radio station induces a current in the radio antenna, that is amplified and demodulated to hear the station.
      Depending on the orientation of any solid state electronic device and the orientation and length of the internal connection, it is possible that your watch will survive or be damaged, based on how much current is induced and the threshold of the solid state inputs before they are damaged.
      As an analogy:
      If the question was, “Can an impact to the face hurt?”
      If I smack you in the face, it will hurt.
      If I punch you in the face it will hurt more.
      If I hit you in the face with a baseball bat.
      You get the picture as it all ”Depends”

      Reply to this comment
  30. Matt March 9, 02:59

    Hey there can automatics or quartz watches survived an EMP?

    Reply to this comment
  31. whiskey May 8, 19:43

    would ppl who have the chip implant in them survive an EMP?

    Reply to this comment
  32. Lancaster Lou July 17, 04:52

    The Amish will get along just fine, though. Their only problem will be the rest of us.

    Reply to this comment
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