The threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) being used as a weapon against the U.S. isn’t as far-fetched of a threat as many out there would like it to be. There are a number of other nations with EMP weapon capacity, and many of them hate the United States with a passion.
Perhaps it’s in recognition of this fact that you’ve come to the conclusion that you need to do something to prepare for such an event.
If you’ve read One Second After and both of the Lights Out books and know that the threat is real but aren’t really sure where to start in mitigating your disaster, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s take a look at what you’ll need in such a kit.
The Kit Itself
If you read enough on EMPs, you’ll hear the term “Faraday cage” thrown around a lot in conversation. The term sounds all scientific and all that, so the concept of actually crafting your own Faraday cage sounds like something only an engineer can accomplish. Thankfully, it’s rather easy.
All you need are the following:
- A metal trash can (with lid)
- Aluminum HVAC tape
- Lots of newspaper
If you have those three items, you’re all set. Stuff everything you need for your kit inside this trash can, using balled up newspaper to ensure that nothing comes into contact with the metal of the can. If it comes into contact with the metal, it could easily be fried in the event of an EMP.
It’s best to insulate all of the electronics within your kit from each other as well. Try to keep everything inside from physically touching other objects.
Once this is accomplished, put the lid on tight, and then seal around the edge of the now closed lid with the aluminum HVAC tape.
Tada! You made a Faraday cage! Everything inside should easily survive an EMP.
But what should we stuff inside this EMP Survival Kit? That’s where the real conundrum lies, isn’t it?
A Rocket Stove
At the very bottom of the can, I would place a Minuteman Rocket Stove.
While this most certainly isn’t an item that needs a Faraday cage, the goal here is to create a total EMP survival kit.
So while there are going to be protected electronics within the cage, there are also going to be other items that don’t need such protection but will help you to survive an EMP.
In the event of such a disaster, this makes your EMP survival kit a one-stop-shop.
The reason you want a rocket stove is that post-pulse, you’re going to quickly run out of options for cooking your food. There will be no microwaves and few stoves, and what grills are out there will quickly run out of propane and charcoal.
However, a rocket stove can run on sticks and leaves, lights incredibly easily, and is very portable. I can’t recommend these highly enough.
The next thing that you’re going to want to place in your Faraday cage is going to be ham radios.
Ideally, you’re going to want to stuff in as many different types of these as possible.
Handy talkies, base stations, portable and mobile units – you’d ideally want them all.
There will be no other means of long-distance communication after an EMP, and those without ham radios will be at a huge disadvantage.
If nothing else, I recommend having three UV-5Rs in here for group comms on supply runs and for retreat security. If possible, see if you can put an Icom handy talkie that can hit the HF bands in there as well.
This will help you to listen in on out-of-state conversations so that you can get a better glimpse of what’s going on in the rest of the world.
Mission Darkness Faraday
This may not initially sound like it makes a lot of sense (What’s the point of having a Faraday cage after an EMP?), but hear me out.
If somebody is willing to destroy a country with an EMP, they’ve already shown that they have the ability to do so. As such, there is a possibility that they could launch a second EMP a few months after the first one so that all backup equipment would be fried. This would truly plunge the U.S. into the Dark Ages.
Personally, I would invest in three or four MD dry phone sleeves and store my ham HTs in these when they’re not in use. Better safe than sorry.
Food and Drink
You likely already have food stocked elsewhere in your home, but it never hurts to add more of what you can to an EMP kit as well. The more food you have after a disaster, the better off you will be.
As such, you should throw some supplies in here that store for a long time, and don’t take up a ton of space.
So here are some of the things that I recommend:
- Power Bars
As far as I’m concerned, these things last forever. They’re not the most flavorful of snacks, but they’re virtually indestructible and have a reasonable amount of nutrition. I’ve often found myself on backpacking trips chewing on one that was more than a few years old. I highly recommend keeping some of these on hand at all times.
While somewhat of a bulkier item, if you can fit it, I highly recommend stuffing a few MREs into your can as well. Most of the time I make my own, but I am a fan of Patriot Supply MREs as well. A lot of times you can find them on fantastic sales of three days’ worth of food for $10 or so.
Related: How to Make Delicious MREs at Home
- Cup of Soup Packets
I’m personally a fan of these little individualized packets of dehydrated powder. They last fairly long, take up virtually no space whatsoever, and can serve as a wonderful base to a host of recipes. I do a lot of cooking with different online recipes and a cup of soup packets get featured in there pretty regularly.
- Instant Coffee
Because living in a post-pulse world will be hard enough, attempting to beat a caffeine addiction on top of things is just too much. Throw in a couple of those vacuum-sealed bricks of the cheap stuff. They should last for a very long time.
You’re still going to want to have access to gasoline if you can find it. Pre-1964 vehicles don’t have computers built into them and are still going to work post-pulse. There may be other vehicles that you’re able to get started as well. Gasoline is going to be a hot commodity item for a number of reasons. But the problem is that people aren’t going to be able to access the gas that’s right under their feet.
A handpump is essentially two long pieces of tubing that have a bulb pump in the middle of them.
You squeeze this part to begin pumping gas out of one container and pump it into the other container.
Even if the type you get isn’t long enough to reach down into a gas station’s underground storage, you’ll at least be able to siphon off gas from abandoned vehicles without having to suck through a garden hose.
A Sizeable Amount of Cash
I, and many others, argue that there will be a maximum of three days post-pulse until society collapses.
If you have reason to believe that it was an EMP strike that took out your power, I highly recommend getting to the nearest grocery store or gas station to clean them out of anything edible.
This will help top off your food stores with what has now become worthless.
Proper hygiene is essential to health, and there’s a reason that strange diseases begin to pop up all over the place within disaster populations. Germs thrive in filthy environments, and post-disaster is no time to end up with some obscure form of infection simply because you couldn’t keep yourself clean.
So here are some of the things you should consider adding to your EMP survival kit:
- Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
These really don’t take up a lot of space, and your teeth are something you’re going to want to take very good care of post-disaster. If you’ve ever experienced the pain of a toothache, you know how it can absolutely devastate your ability to get anything accomplished. The pain quickly becomes all-encompassing.
If you imagine such a situation occurring when there is virtually a zero percent chance that you’ll be able to see a dentist anytime soon, you’ll understand why it’s so important to take care of your teeth.
- A First Aid Kit
In my opinion, one of the prime pieces within your first aid kit should be Neosporin.
Our soldiers in the Vietnam War quickly learned how even the tiniest of nicks can quickly grow to be a nasty source of infection, and thus, how important it is to keep wounds clean.
A small kit with plenty of antibiotic cream, a variety of bandages, and other odds and ends can both easily fit within the can as well as be a great aid post-pulse.
- Camping Shower
While improper handwashing and drinking contaminated water are going to be the chief culprits of disease, you’re still going to want to take a shower as often as possible as well. With a camping shower, all you have to do is fill the bag up with water and then hang that bag up from a high enough height that you can stand underneath it.
Besides the hygiene benefits of such, this is a huge morale booster after a disaster.
A Fire Striker, Bic Lighters, and Vaseline-Soaked Cotton Balls
You’re going to need a reliable means of starting fire now that there’s no electricity, and using a bow saw takes a heck of a lot of effort.
By keeping a fire going and having plenty of Bic lighters, and a couple of old pill bottles full of Vaseline-soaked cotton balls within your EMP survival kit, you’ll have a number of ways to ensure that you always have the means to cook your food and stay warm.
While you can easily find a number of DIY emergency candle articles out there online, I’ve had trouble getting any of them to actually hold a flame.
The best form of wick is still going to be a candle wick that was created for that specific purpose. Possessing a bag full of these will save you a lot of trouble in the future, and can potentially serve as the seed to a valuable source of future income as well.
You likely already have a few different means of purifying water. However, there’s simply no reason to not throw a few more LifeStraws in this kit.
All of your water is now going to need to be treated before you drink it, and you need to ensure that you always have the means to do so readily available.
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to fit these tools within the can, but that’s okay. They’re not going to need to be protected from an EMP to begin with. Provided that you have easy access to these post-pulse, you’ll be fine.
- A Crank Drill
Do you know those really old drills that rely on your spinning a handle to power them?
They’re absolutely fantastic tools, and you’re going to need them post-pulse. On a daily basis, my power drill is without a doubt the tool I use the most.
However, if the insides were fried or I no longer had access to electricity, I could easily resort to one of these old drills that I picked up from my grandpa. They’re readily available at antique shops.
- A Hammer
Who doesn’t have a hammer in their home? That’s a good thing because, as an old Marine taught me, you can do just about anything with a hammer.
- An Ax and Maul
Though I do prefer getting to use my chainsaw, gas will be at a premium post-pulse, and things are going to begin having to be done the old-fashioned way. Chief of these things that need to be accomplished is keeping your house warm, and that involves firewood. It’s wise to always have a well-maintained ax and maul handy.
- A Crowbar
I live on a farm, and a crowbar is quite simply one of the most useful tools out there. I end up using it all the time for projects that I never thought that I would need it for.
It’s not always used for demolition jobs either. I constantly find myself using it to help pry up tree roots, lift up a board so that I can screw it flush with an adjacent board, and so on.
Post-pulse, you’re going to be using edged surfaces a lot. Whether we’re talking about an ax or a knife, you need to be able to sharpen all of them. A honing stone will enable you to do this.
You’ll likely want to have your self-defense weapons kept out of the can, as once again, they’re not going to need pulse protection. The best weapon that you can have in a post-disaster world is a quality gun that can spit out lead when you need it most. I’m personally a fan of platforms that can be beat up and abused and still fire.
If you’re living in a world where you’re going to have to have a firearm on your person on a daily basis due to a very real threat of engaging in a gunfight, you’re going to be exposing your weapon to a lot of dirt and grime.
Having a weapon malfunction in the middle of a shootout is a good way to get yourself killed, and you want something that can handle a bit of dirt and still go bang. I highly recommend the AK-47 platform, Glocks, an SKS, or lever-action .30-.30s.
Generic Survival Gear
There are two other main items that you’re going to want to have within an EMP survival kit that will also easily fit in the can.
- A Quality Tarp
I use tarps for just about everything at my place. They get used on backpacking trips, to cover firewood, as makeshift shelters for farm animals, for covering lawnmowers, and for a host of other uses. I highly recommend picking up two or three of these from your local Harbor Freight and lining the edge of the can with them.
You wouldn’t buy a gun but never buy ammo, and buying a tarp without picking up some paracord is kind of the same concept. You may as well get the other half of the kit. This will easily fit within the can, and you’ll find a host of uses for it without any problem.
Throughout history, mankind has done what he can to insulate himself against specific threats. For the ancient Romans, this entailed training with swords. For the British Empire, it involved learning how to fight at sea. Although mankind’s weapons now are more abstract and out of sight than they’ve ever been in history, this is by no means an indication that we should do nothing to prepare for disaster.
The threat of an EMP is very real, and it only makes sense to do some things to help to lessen the havoc that such an event would unleash on your family. However, by following the above steps to create an EMP survival kit, you’ll be exponentially more prepared than the greater part of the American populace.
Are there other items that you think we should have included in this kit? Have you made one of these before? Do you have any experience with making Faraday cages in general? Let us know in the comments below!
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