A wicked wind storm blew through our area last spring with winds over 70 mph. There was significant damage to roofs and trees in throughout our neighborhood and community. A large section of shingles blew off our roof and one of our mature 40 foot weeping willow trees was blown over. It was a real mess everywhere.
As a result of the storm, the power was off for about 12 hours. Now since it was spring time, temperatures were mild and the lack of power was in no way life threatening. What did become evident very quickly was just how dependent we are on electricity for virtually everything in our lives.
You know what it’s like when you forget to wear your wristwatch and you are constantly looking at your wrist throughout the day expecting to see the time and then are quickly reminded, you aren’t wearing a watch. The same thing happened to us during that 12 hour period of time. We were constantly flipping switches, simply out of habit, expecting lights or appliances to work.
Yes, it was aggravating and frustrating at times but we knew the inconvenience was only temporary. Then the thought came, “What if it was permanent?” What if electricity was a convenience of the past and we had to learn to survive without it? How would we survive or could we?
Unfortunately, our electrical grid is susceptible to a variety of threats that could disrupt the flow of electricity for many months to many years. They range from natural disasters, terrorist attacks and an EMP, an EMP attack being the most devastating.
A great book to read detailing the traumatic conditions following an EMP attack is “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen who has a Ph.D. from Purdue University with specializations in Military History and the History of Technology.
It is estimated that 90% of the population of the United States would perish in the first year after a nation-wide EMP attack primarily due to the lack of food. So what is an EMP and how can we prepare?
EMP stands for electromagnetic pulse, which is considered a short burst of electromagnetic radiation. This kind of burst can come from a variety of sources, including our own sun, but in this case we’re talking about a pulse from a nuclear detonation that occurs at an extremely high altitude.
As nuclear physicist Dr. Yousaf Butt explains, these pulses affect everything in line of sight of the nuclear blast. For example, a blast at 60 miles up can affect a 700-mile radius on Earth.
EMP bombs do not cause casualties directly. The blast happens much too far away from people. Their power comes from interfering, disrupting, or damaging electronic equipment. That could mean power grids going down, cars and planes losing power, computer systems going berserk, and possibly even losing emergency backup power at facilities like hospitals.
Here’s a great video describing the details of an EMP attack and the probability of just such an event.
Unfortunately, if there was only one word that could describe what an EMP attack on the United States would be like, ‘devastating’ would be it. One of the thoughts that cross many prepper’s minds is what electronic devices will work after an EMP attack. The rest of your life would literally change following an EMP attack. That is not an exaggeration because life would literally return to the Dark Ages.
Should an EMP device be detonated high enough in the atmosphere, the entire power grid across most of North America would collapse. What does this mean for you?
It means there will be no more electricity. It means your TVs, computers, and phones will no longer work. It means your cars most likely won’t. It means airplanes would no longer work and could fall from the sky. Electronic banking would no longer be possible. The supply trucks would stop rolling. The economy would collapse.
And when that happens, you can guarantee there will be chaos. The once peaceful and delicate community you live in now will become a war zone. People will take to the streets looting all the stores and restaurants and businesses in the area.
The normal people you once knew could become savages. Many may turn on one another for food and supplies. Organized raiding parties would form and prey on the innocent. Every single second of your life would be focused on survival and keeping an eye out for threats. What’s worse is this catastrophe is not something that could be solved in a short time period.
The United States is woefully under prepared for an EMP attack. Even the most conservative estimates are that it would take at least TEN YEARS for the country to recover. During that time, over 90% of the American population would die due to starvation, dehydration, disease, murder, and suicide.
This is what would happen when literally nothing works. No more electronics, no more power, no more heat and electricity, no more vehicles, no more internet, no more cell service.
If you want an almost surefire way of knowing what will work after an EMP attack in regards to electronic items, using a Faraday cage at the time of the EMP blast is your best bet. Named after Michael Faraday, a scientist who lived in Great Britain in the 1800s, a Faraday cage is simply any container or enclosure that can shield the contents inside from an electromagnetic field. Faraday cages are also incredibly cheap and easy to make using materials you likely already have.
For example, you can build a Faraday cage out of nothing more than a galvanized metal trash can and cardboard, or you can build one by covering a cardboard box with at least three layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil. With both of these examples, wrap your electronic item in a towel and then in plastic wrapping before placing it into the cage for added protection.
Since you won’t be able to recharge your electronic item in a power outlet after an EMP, invest in a solar charger to go with it.
Does a Faraday cage guarantee that your phone or laptop will still work after an EMP? No, but it greatly increases the likelihood, and for that reason alone is worth building.
An electromagnetic pulse attack upon the United States would be very bad no matter how you slice it. But you can become more prepared by stocking up on items that will work after an EMP attack. So while your car may not work, an older model of car may. While your phone or laptop won’t work after an EMP, protecting it in a Faraday cage may be able to save it. While you won’t be able to access information online anymore, you can still access the same information through physical copies of books.
Please take the time now to learn more about the possibility and effects of an EMP so you can be properly prepared. If you had to choose just one thing to do to prepare for such an event, securing enough food for your family for as long as you can afford would be the absolute best action to take. Remember, the vast majority of deaths are not a result of the lack of electricity but the lack of food. Having sufficient food reserves for your family will help shield against almost any potential event or disaster.