Emergency Bag to Keep in Your Car in Case of an EMP

Chris Byrne
By Chris Byrne February 6, 2017 13:45

Emergency Bag to Keep in Your Car in Case of an EMP

Because people around the world spend so much of their time in vehicles, if an EMP were to happen, there’s a good chance many of the affected people would be in or near their vehicles at the time.

Before getting to a list of items to have in your emergency kit, the first consideration needs to be: “After an EMP hits, what is my first job or goal?”. Let’s assume for sake of discussion that if an EMP happens, and it’s obvious that major electrical infrastructure is damaged, your job is to get “home” or to an agreed meeting spot with your family to assess the situation and decide what to do.

The second thing to remember is that your car may or may not work. Even if it does work, massive traffic jams and other road closures may force you to be on foot to get to your family meeting spot.

Bug out Bag: Some people call this a “go-bag” or a “bail out bag”. Whatever you call it, it should contain items that will help you mitigate almost every disaster. Your bug out bag is an add-on item to your EMP emergency kit. You should have the bare minimum items in your Bug Out Bag:

Related: 10 Awesome Food Ideas for Your Bug Out Bag

  • 8 to 11 Gallons Backpack: Durable and comfortable enough to carry for 20 miles if necessary.
  • Water and food.
  • Some form of self-defense: Make sure you observe your local laws. Self-defense can become a bigger issue when people are panicking or stress levels from an emergency are high.
  • First Aid Kit: You should have an individual first aid kit for you and for a friend.
  • Some cash. Although I’m pretty sure you won’t need it in case of an EMP. You can obtain almost anything if you let people make a phone call from your phone. That will be your best thing to barter with, without actually loosing anything (if you have a manual or solar charger of course). But cash will help in other events. And I’m sure nobody makes a kit only for EMP’s.
  • Emergency Signaling items: Road flares, laser pointers and signal mirrors along with monocular or compact binoculars can come in real handy.
  • Compass / Map / Map Tools.

Related: The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs

  • Bad Weather Clothing: In the summer you should have items to protect your skin from the rain and hot sun, such as sun-screen, wide brim hat and rain gear. In the winter, you should have a set of polypropylene underwear and extra set of wool socks.
  • Specialized tools: Lock picks and a multi-tool are great to have. In the event of an extended journey on foot due to EMP emergency, a set of lock picks and multi-tool could help you gain access in a life and death pursuit for shelter.

Footwear: A good set of all-terrain footwear is definitely something to keep in your vehicle with appropriate socks and foot cushioning called “moleskin”. This is especially true if you wear business footwear normally.

Faraday Bag: A faraday bag guards against the gamma rays given off by an EMP that can destroy electronic equipment.  A professional grade faraday bag can be had for under $300. If you have a large enough faraday bag (which would probably be pretty expensive), you can just put your bug-out-bag inside it. If you have a smaller faraday bag, make sure to put in precious electrical equipment. You should put the following items in your faraday bag:

Related: 15 Things You Think You Know About Faraday Cages But You Don’t

  • GPS – Just because an EMP hits, does not mean that all direction finding satellites (or any of them for that matter) will be disrupted.
  • Spare wrist watch: Battery operated wrist watches are cheap enough to throw an extra one in your faraday bag.
  • FRS/GMRS and HAM handset radios (with batteries): Prices on FRS/GMRS and HAM radios have become quite reasonable, so having a spare set of radios in your faraday bag only makes sense.
  • Extra flashlight & Headlamp: Again, flashlights and headlamps are very affordable, I would just as soon put an extra compact flashlight and headlamp in the faraday bag, because the saying goes “2 is 1 and 1 is none”, right?
  • Solar charger: There are several efficient and inexpensive solar chargers on the market that will keep your batteries charged for radios, GPS and lights. Depending on how long your trek home is, and how many days and nights it takes, you may need to recharge your lights so you can see at night.

Related: How to Build Your Own Solar Panels

  • Extra Cell Phone: While some people might disagree with this, an extra cell phone may or may not work in the event of an EMP.  A power grid may temporary go down, and come back up. Remember there are many variables to determine what an EMP will and won’t damage. If your primary smart phone is damaged, a cheap, pre-packaged cell phone with activation card, in your faraday bag may be able to get you in contact with loved ones.

You may also like:

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7 Actions to Take Immediately Following an EMP Strike

Chris Byrne
By Chris Byrne February 6, 2017 13:45
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  1. Lone wolf February 6, 15:47

    Cell phone???
    Most likely cell phones and ham repeter towers would be damaged in an emp. Co cell phones would be useless and ham raido would be limited to the power output of the raido

    Reply to this comment
    • vocalpatriot February 7, 20:28

      seeing as how we can’t truly “guarantee” the ham repeater towers will certainly be rendered inoperable, It seems to me to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. the hope would include using ham radios. Otherwise plan B to include meeting at predetermined places and such.

      Reply to this comment
    • Uncle George February 8, 00:30

      The ham repeater towers in my area are said to be EMP proof. Obviously, there is only one way to find out. I also wonder where the power will come from, unless the power source is also EMP proof. Joining the local Ham club is on my to do list.

      Reply to this comment
    • Kafir February 8, 03:37

      A smart phone can still be usable for the maps program/apps. You might not be able to connect to anything, but if it was protected, and the battery charged, then you could still use the maps and might even have GPS capability.

      Reply to this comment
      • Ben Leucking February 8, 20:59

        Right on! I maintain a set of multiple Google Earth images with a route drawn that shows the preferred course. A series of these images between the starting and end points is a great way to document a Get Home or Bug Out route. In addition, you can identify water sources (streams, wells, stock tanks, etc.) and locations that are safe lay-up sites near your route.

        Reply to this comment
    • Tobea Prepper February 8, 20:38

      Actually I have over 15 useful apps on my cellphone that do not require internet nor cell access. offline map database. How to manuals, alternate routes, Maps with train tracks, bike trails. GPS will still work. hiking trails. nautical. you can use a cell phone for a lot more things than just calling/txting.

      Reply to this comment
    • Myfeather626 February 10, 00:41

      My tower comes up from a Cemnet Bunker. It is a hand crank style has a very big handle. The only thing I am concerned with is my ground Rod is in the same hallow as my Mast.

      Reply to this comment
    • Odd Donny March 19, 18:45

      Something I never see mentioned is one of those folding scooters. They are compact, light weight, and faster than walking. Rollerblades, skates, or a skateboard too are all ways to gain back a bit of mobility for minimal space usage.

      Reply to this comment
      • Kafir March 19, 19:35

        Problem there is the limitation of where they can go on the wheels. You are limited to hard surfaces. But they would be very helpful there…

        Reply to this comment
  2. r.hogebaum February 6, 16:33

    I have a Faraday Cage I made from a Galvanized Garbage Can. I lined it with 1″ foam, sides, top, bottom, sealing the bottom with spray foam and where it met on the sides. I read you should use cardboard. I had a difficult time doing that.
    The top figs very snugly. and I have used duct tape around the edges of the lid.
    So … will the foam work?

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck February 6, 19:29

      Take a portable radio. Turn the volume up as loud as you can get it. Put it in your faraday cage. Close the lid.Listen closely. Can you hear the radio? If not, you are good to go. If you can hear the radio you have to revise your faraday cage. Remember this: it is not necessary to eliminate ALL extraneous electrical emissions. It is merely necessary to lower them below the survivability threshold of the items contained therein.

      Reply to this comment
    • vocalpatriot February 7, 21:08

      The foam is only there to make sure the contents do not come in contact with the inside metal surface of the cage. It is vital that the metal is completely closed ELECTRICALLY, not just air tight. that means no holes, seams or cracks in the metal or between the cover and the body of your cage. duct tape is not electrically conductive so it will not provide that assurance. But if the lid is snapped tight and the whole cage is kept on a NON conducting surface like wood then the offending electric current will not affect the delicates inside.

      Reply to this comment
    • Ben Leucking February 7, 21:47

      You can use any type of non-conducting insulator to separate your gear from the metal can. The foam that you have selected is effective, as is cardboard or bubble wrap, etc. The only practical problem with steel garbage cans is that they can’t be stored in the trunk of your car. I have a 10 gallon steel can (with locking lid) in my garage for sensitive items, but use locking ammo cans in my vehicle.

      Reply to this comment
    • gale May 23, 02:51

      Get some aluminum tape or copper tape to go around the lid to seal it and you should be good to go,

      Reply to this comment
    • Myfeather626 February 10, 00:47

      Maybe! Ley me check my literature! Anyone want to talk about the magmatic North movement. GPS is in need of reset already. It has moved from in1980. 6 miles a year too 26-35 a year. What are your thoughts about the 1966 book entitled Adam and Eve. Scrubbed by the Navy Intel and re-released. Quite a good and frightful read.

      Reply to this comment
    • chip February 10, 14:07

      hogebaum, you just need something non-conductive to prevent anything fron touching the metal side of the can. make sure the lid overlaps the can aluminum foil can help here to “seal” amy gaps

      Reply to this comment
  3. Lyn February 6, 18:06

    If you have a car that opens the trunk by battery, figure out a way to open it if battery doesn’t Work. Doesn’t help to have a bug out bag if you can’t get to it.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck February 6, 19:26

      A good point to check. Make sure you can open the trunk via mechanical over ride. If I owned a motor vehicle that didn’t have a key over ride to open the trunk, I would get rid of that car as soon as practicable. I wouldn’t buy it in the first place now, knowing what I do. That’s why I would never buy a biometric gun box or gun safe that didn’t have a mechanical over ride either.

      Reply to this comment
    • Wannabe February 7, 18:26

      Shoot it open.

      Reply to this comment
    • Kafir February 8, 03:30

      Many cars now the truck may be accessed from the back, pull down seats. Of course, not all. Many will have a mechanical release in the car.

      Reply to this comment
    • RJ December 17, 02:47

      Our thought was to break the window open and pull the lever inside.. or get in the back seat and you can get to the trunk by laying down the seat.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Papa J February 7, 16:56

    Your comment on the trunk brings me just a tad bit off topic. I head to the mountains often and my bag is normally in the bed of my truck with a tonneau cover, along with my sleeping bag. If I ever went off the road, the possibility that I might not get in the bed of my truck is very possible. I always try to put it up front now. Just a thought for some.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Ben Leucking February 7, 21:30

    Why would anyone spend $300 for a “professional grade” Faraday bag when a .50 caliber ammo can will achieve the same results for about $20? Read up on the available literature to understand why an ammo can will meet your needs.

    In addition to a couple of Get Home bags plus a Rubbermaid ‘Action Packer’ tub full of survival gear, I also keep two sealed ammo cans in my truck.. One contains a pair of multiband HAM radios, batteries, etc. The other can contains 28,800 calories of survival rations. Depending on how far I am from home, I have the option of tossing several packages of rations in my Get Home Bag if I have to abandon my vehicle.

    My worst case scenario is that I could be 75 miles from home if an EMP or other form of SHTF event occurred. Therefore, I always have sufficient food and backup battery power for radios in my 4WD.

    I agree with other commenters that an EMP type of event will knock most of our technology off the air, and that includes cell phone towers. Even if they survive the initial event, they will go down when the back up generators run out of fuel.

    Reply to this comment
    • Kafir February 8, 03:33

      I have kept several older smart phones with maps installed or the map program/app. They are still useful even without a network or GPS. I keep these stored in Faraday bags (old heavy duty Mylar-type bags)in the car and in ammo cans at home. I also bought a couple of 40mm ammo cans, much, much larger, for larger electronic devices.

      Reply to this comment
    • Skyman April 21, 12:37

      I’m curious about your radios. What make/brand model did you choose and why that particular set? Thanks

      Reply to this comment
    • Mommy Couch August 22, 17:23

      Your can with rations, I’m assuming it stays in your car. How does it fair with the summer heat or do you take it with you at all times?

      Reply to this comment
      • Kafir August 22, 18:44

        Hello MC, the ones I keep in my car I swap out at least once a year, inspect quarterly. I rarely have to park outside in the sun, even traveling, I usually get a hotel with a parking garage. But they have fared quite well even when when I have to park outside. I also pack food that is not affected that much by a hot car…no chocolate…bummer.

        Reply to this comment
        • Mommy Couch August 22, 20:36

          Thank you. I’m in west Texas and my car is never in shade. I guess I’ll try one or two of each item at a time. So, no chocolate. Bummer for the kids. Thank you for your time.

          Reply to this comment
  6. Kafir February 8, 03:27

    For a Faraday bag, i use heavy duty mylar bags that used to contain malt extract for my home-brewing. (Very well cleaned out of course). I wrap up the electronic device (batteries removed) in newspaper to keep the device from contacting the bag, then seal the zip-lock closure with metallic tape. I have tested this with multiple cell phones and multiple portable radios, including shortwave.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Screech February 11, 17:29

    He does mention a faraday bag for electronics, I myself do not like the electronics. I build my bob’s with all mechanical means no electronics, no worries. You can always find away around the electronics, hell we did it for 1000’s of years.

    Reply to this comment
  8. SailorSam February 13, 02:51

    It is a good idea to ground your faraday cage. And if you don’t, you will want to make sure you grounded before you touch it after an attack. A faraday cage, can, depending on construction, act as a storage capacitor that can hold a charge large enough to knock you on your butt, or kill. I’ve seen this happen when working in the Navy. We had a guy wire isolated from the rest of the ship through corrosion. when a sailor went to maintain the wire, he was knocked on his ass from the charge. Also, You Ham guys and gals. Make sure you are set with spark gap on you antennas

    Reply to this comment
  9. Leevil February 22, 15:27

    How effective is an old microwave as faraday cage?

    Reply to this comment
    • Kafir February 22, 16:30

      One of the answers…”YES, to an extent, an old microwave oven may be re-purposed as a Faraday cage against EMP (electro magnetic pulse). In fact, its design is very much similar to a basic Faraday cage. A Faraday cage is an enclosure formed by conducting material or by a mesh of such material. A microwave oven’s very design is to enclose the electro-magnetic radiation of microwaves, and keep them from getting out. The reverse will also be true – they can’t get in.”

      But I have read some reviews that it is not the best choice…

      Reply to this comment
    • Kafir February 22, 16:31

      “Use a nonfunctional microwave oven as an EMP safe. As long as the oven is intact physically, with no gaps between the door and the body, it will function as an EMP shield. While it will protect against some threats, for better protection, solder a braided copper grounding strip from the metal body of the oven to a cold water pipe (ground). This will protect against interior arcing from an extreme event.”

      Reply to this comment
    • Dupin January 16, 16:29

      The repurposed microwave oven should shield well in frequencies around 2.45Ghz, as that’s the microwave frequency the oven transmits to cook the food. That’s also roughly the freq for wifi, bluetooth and some of the cell phones. It may or may not protect well at other freqs well away from the oven freq. Your SW or AM or FM radios might or might not be protected. And that may vary from oven to oven. Just something to consider. This is why they talk about home-made Faraday cages not necessarily working well, even if you put an AM radio in and it blocks that signal around 1Mhz, because it’s no guarantee it’ll do anything at other freqs.

      Reply to this comment
  10. Alex Ferdenz February 24, 05:25

    I was searching this kind list. Nice list Chris. But Extra cell phone? Or extra cell phone battery? If the power grid goes down, then what is the use of extra cell phone? An extra cell phone can do the tricks.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Skyman April 25, 11:45

    It sure is interesting to me how our civilization has advanced in the last 100 years or so. We have all the finest, most modern conveniences at our finger tips that will do just about everything for us and make life ‘easy’. But now we have to resort to figuring out how to ‘bug out’ to go live in the woods or some distant place from our home and to live like our great grandfather did. No running water or electricity … no grocery store right down the street … no emergency medical team ready to come to the rescue. Turns out progress sure is a BlTCH.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Sam June 19, 01:29

    I’m looking into doing one of these for a friend of mine. The go bag will need to help her blend in. A lot of business women carry rolling briefcases. So I think I’ll find a used one and make that her kit bag. Otherwise a mid age woman is going to stick out with a duffel or backpack.

    Reply to this comment
    • chip February 10, 14:15

      your article mentions shielding gamma rays. gamma rays are very very high energy electro magnetic waves which are not shielded by a thin conductive layer. a faraday cage shield just low energy non ionizing em waves

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