EMP Reality Check: Can You Survive Without Technology?

By Shane S – Visit his site at www.outdoorsmantime.com

POWER LINESImagine a world where there is no technology. Not because you’ve traveled back in time to the 1800’s but because someone has attacked America’s electric grid. Cell phones and computers don’t work. But that’s the least of your problems.

  • Power is out everywhere. Hospitals are no longer functional.
  • Food is limited and will probably last only a few months – if you’re lucky.
  • Trash and waste build up and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Disease spreads like wildfire. It’s not a nightmare.

It’s possible, and if it happens could you survive?

What is an EMP

An electromagnetic pulse, EMP, is a short disturbance of electromagnetic energy, either from a man-made or natural occurrence. An EMP can be damaging to all kinds of electronic equipment, and if it is powerful enough, it can even damage structures or buildings. This makes it the perfect choice for a technological terrorist attack.

I first heard about EMPs when I read One Second After, by William R. Forstchen. It’s an excellent book and really brings the scenario to life. I highly recommend you check it out if you haven’t read it.

A big enough EMP attack could wipe out power indefinitely. And could potentially be the end of our country as we know it. Most EMP’s affect a relatively small area, an attack could affect northern states from Maine to Wisconsin for example.

Although that may seem like a large area, a solar flare could easily affect double the area. However, if three EMP attacks targeted different parts of America at the same time the whole country could be affected at once.

The dangers of an EMP attack

The most obvious and initial dangers of an EMP attack would be for anyone relying and machines to live. For example, anyone on life support would die immediately or soon after the attack. Fires would break out everywhere due to surges. People traveling on airplanes would also be in danger of the plane crashing due to the loss of technology.

Those who do survive would have to quickly learn how to no longer depend on technology for everything. They would have to find new ways to cook, and new ways of keeping their family safe from harm. Prisoners would be able to break out of jails all over the country, and people would resort to stealing, looting and violence for any food or first-aid available.

Almost anything can happen

The most dangerous issue of an EMP though is the fact that anything can happen. No matter how much planning we do, or how many precautions we take, we just can’t know for sure what would happen in this scenario.

Preparing for an EMP

The best defense is a good offense as they say, and the best way to survive an EMP is to be prepared.

Faraday cage for electronics

You could try to build a massive lead structure, but as you can imagine, it isn’t very practical. The first thing you should do to prepare for an EMP is get a Faraday cage for any important electronics. This is a cage made of conductive material which can block electric fields, so electronic devices stored here would still work after an EMP.

You can make your own basic Faraday cage with heavy duty aluminum foil. It’s recommend you wrap an item in at least three layers of foil to make sure it is protected. Keep in mind however, this is a very rudimentary example and might not work in a massive EMP attack.

For greater protection, wrap the items in foil, then place them in some sort of container, such as a shoe box, wrap that box in three layers of foil and finally place the box in an aluminum trashcan or other container. It may seem like overkill now, but should an EMP occur, you’ll be glad you took this precaution.

Faraday cages can also be purchased in several stores or online. If you want the best protection for your essential electronics, and don’t mind paying a lot, consider this option. You can also use a radiation blocking material like tungsten radiation shielding.

A few suggestions of items to protect are, an old, but still working, cell phone, a laptop, a small portable stove, a radio. Just think about technical items you would most need in a blackout or other emergency and put those in.

Have cash on hand

Be sure to always keep some cash on hand, in a secure but easily retrievable location. Once the power is out, credit cards won’t work. And if you have stashed your cash in an electronic safe, you’re out of luck once again.

Remember though, after an EMP, cash will lose it’s value very quickly, as many people will start stealing or looting. Go to a store and get as much as you can as quickly as you can. Food, bottled water, extra blankets and even supplies for cooking without electricity are all things you should already have, but it wouldn’t hurt to stock up on at this point.

Be ready to collect water

Water is needed for so many daily activities, so you’ll want to have as much of it on hand as possible. Fill everything up you can think of, sinks, tubs, glasses, pots and pans. This will be used for not only cooking but washing as well. You should also have plenty of bottled water on hand too to use for drinking water.

Eventually, sewer and water plants will stop working, if they work at all after the attack, and you will need all the clean, fresh water you can get.

Get set up with solar

Solar equipment, such as a solar powered stove, can be extremely useful after an EMP, but keep in mind, if it’s not stored in your Faraday cage it will be as useless to you as your other electronics. Keep this in mind when making or purchasing the cage, and be sure it will hold everything you wish to protect.

What if you’re in your car?

Don’t forget, you could be anywhere when an EMP occurs, work, home, vacation, or even in the car. Make sure you have survival equipment within reach no matter where you are, by keeping supplies in your car as well as your home.

Always keep nonperishable food and a few bottles of water in your car, along with a first aid kit, and a few blankets. It’s also a good idea to have a good pair of shoes for each person in your family in the car, incase for any reason you must stop driving and travel on foot. Make sure your car is well maintained and running smoothly, you never know when a five minute drive could turn into a longer journey. Other important items to always have with you are, a knife, a metal container for cooking/boiling water, and a fire starter.

Be Ready to Bug Out

Any semi populated city or metropolis will be in a pure panic. Remember the situation in New Orleans with Katrina in 2005. So, there is no reason not to plan for a possible bug out scenario. An EMP is literally one of the times you may want to get out of town.

If you are in a rural setting, you may be able to buckle down and bug in. You won’t have to deal with the riots, looting, and chaos. That said, in the days after an EMP, you may find some of the urban population bugging out from the city. If you have enough land and resources, you can consider setting up a camp as a charity of sorts. The people that made it all the way to your homestead probably have some survival and planning skills that may be valuable.


Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to prevent an EMP attack, but you can be prepared. Keep these tips in mind and you will be well on your way to surviving one of the potentially most harmful and damaging attack in existence.


  1. Heather guess says:

    One question I have is that I live in ms they tell us not to drink water from bottles left in cars especially in summer so what would be a safe alt of this for my car pack

    • Heather:

      Who’s “they”? I keep bottled water in my car all year long and have for years. When I travel, there is a whole case in it. Never had a problem so far.

      • The concern with keeping bottles of water in a car is that the plastic will heat up and release chemicals into the water. It’s not a big deal especially if you only plan on using the water in emergencies but it may not be a good idea to make a habbit of it.

      • Yeah, but, YOU’RE JP in MT, not JP in MS! In case you didn’t know whereya’at?! ; )

        • pat r:

          1. You are right, I start complaining when temp get over 75.

          2. My point was looking for the source. Is it from some “government agency” or one of those “facts” that “everybody knows”.

    • Heather, I’ve read this too. I just keep a few bottles in a small insulated ice chest in the car. The chest keeps them from freezing in winter & I try to remember to put an ice pack in for summer. And they’re rotated often because I’m always leaving the house without a drink! haha

      • Rather than pack an ice pack, you may want to try this trick. Our DS works in a very hot environment in summer and he needs a lot of cold bottled spring water. We freeze several bottles (obviously, post-IHTF, post-EMP, etc., you can’t do this for lack of electricity, but we’re talking NOW) and he adds one frozen bottle to his collection of 3 or 4 he takes to work every day. The frozen bottle keeps the other 2 or 3 cold, and, the frozen one is almost thawed by the time he gets around to drinking it.

        I use a similar trick for my chickens in the heat of summer. AL gets very, very hot and humid, just as do most of the Gulf States, usually several months in a year. I use the small plastic bottles 100% juice comes in to freeze ice. I drop these, frozen, down into the chickens’ water containers about mid-morning, when things really start heating up. The hens appreciate a cool drink.

        Conversely, I carry hot water from the kitchen to the chicken coop & tractors every cold morning, such as today, when we awoke to freezing temps. I change the water twice during the day, using hot water each time. They also like a warm drink on a cold day.

        More work, yes. Worth it? Absolutely! Happy DS and happy chickens!

        • Snake Plisken says:

          pat r, thank you so much for the advice on chickens. My neighbor and I recently began raising chickens for eggs and meat. We have 13 hens and one little rooster. Those hens put out a lot of eggs ( even though I don’t much care for eggs unless baking ) the danged chickens are a lot of fun. My best friend and his 6 YRO girl will come over and visit the hens often and she said recently ” Uncle, these chickens are your best friends. They follow you everywhere in the yard!”

          It’s nice to have groupies following you around even if they are chickens.

          Again though pat r, good advice on raising and caring for chickens!

          Snake Plisken

    • Adam Selene says:

      I can think of two reasons why they say that:

      First. The heat in the car can accelerate bacterial growth in the water. To counteract that you can use chlorinated water or carry purification tablets. The chlorinated water must be stored out of the sunlight as sunlight speeds up the breakdown of the chlorine. Since no matter how you store it, the chlorine will break down, you should rotate the water fairly often. You can also store the water in full sunlight as the UV rays will kill most but not all pathogens. If you do this, you should use glass containers as the light must penetrate the container and sunlight breaks down plastic.

      Second: If you are using plastic, you must use heavy plastic containers not the crinkle plastic ones or milk containers. I do not trust soda bottles, so I use juice bottles. All plastic breaks down over time, faster in sunlight. The crinkle plastic bottles break down very quickly. The breakdown releases chemicals from the plastic into the water. Over time, those chemicals can hurt you. Best is to use recycled and thoroughly cleaned juice bottles and recycle the water often. Each time that you refill the bottles, make sure that they are thoroughly cleaned to get rid of the chemical residue. If a bottle of water goes bad, get rid of the bottle, it is not worth taking a chance that you have sterilized it.

      I store water, but I am not an expert, so you should do additional research on your own.

    • We keep several bottles of commercially bottled water in our vehicles, and rotate it out about once a year. We then use the old stuff, and have never had a problem.

      Now and then it comes in handy for non-emergency drinking, and once or twice we’ve used it for washing a small injury or washing off gritty glasses after a hike.

      My concern would be less about chemicals leaching into the water than the plastic bottles getting old, brittle, and leaking. A year seems to be okay. We don’t have freezing cold as an issue, though.

    • If you store water in your car in hot climates, buy the blue plastic. The clear uncolored plastic bottles of most bottled-water brands contain BHP that breaks down at temps above 84 degrees F and leaches into the water. Drinking this short-term (a few days) may not have much effect, but it can affect you long-term (more than a week) if you drink too much.
      Also, it is easy for the seals on those bottles to have been compromised by the heat. Water expands, and the pressure can actually push water past the seal. When it cools, the bottle may appear less full, or have dents that weren’t there before. The seal seems unbroken, but has still been compromised. Bacteria can then find their way in, and we know where that can lead.
      If you insist on keeping bottled water in your car long-term, carry a filter or purification tablets, though be mindful of how much water one table purifies.

      • Red T.–You should clarify that “water expands” WHEN FROZEN. Water has this interesting property that the molecules form a six-sided form when freezing–which is why it expands in that state. That creates the issue of why a bottle seal could break as you mentioned. Pressure from heat would mean the water would be at boiling temp (212 degrees F), meaning that water would become steam and that could be enough pressure to pop the seal and even burst the cap or bottle itself. And that isn’t very likely in a hot car even in a desert.

        Other note–Taking new bottled water to work, etc. daily brings up the issue of disposal and trash. Oil based plastics will break down–but do so extremely slowly. Better to use a reusable container, and make sure if that’s not possible to recycle those you toss. I’m disabled in that I need a wheelchair, and everywhere I go I carry my reusable water bottle. It’s a BubbaKeg, which is the best insulated bottle I’ve found. I toss some ice in it, and it keeps water cold for at least 24 hours.

    • If you take precautions now to store water that should not be an issue. After an EMP, the rules will change. If you have water at all you will be only to happy to drink it if it is clean, no matter what it is in. An EMP is a catastrophic life threatening event. Did you want to live forever? Make sure you know Jesus.

    • I think I would carry the bottled SPRING water (no filtered, bottled ‘city’ water), any way, and carry a LifeStraw for each member who might travel with me, and maybe one or two extras, just in case. They’re available via link on the Home Page here. I’ve never paid more than $20.00 for one unit. If I remember correctly, they’re each good for up to 3,000 gallons? Check me on that.

      If you’re worried about the thin plastic bottles (and you probably should be) Ozarka, for example, makes a very thick bottle. The bottle is round and Ozarka is a red label. These are the bottles that are deeply indented so they stack. Some people actually use them to build outdoor buildings, I believe. They are less than one gallon per bottle. Anyhoo…these bottles will hold up well. Why not carry 3 or 4 of these rather than many smaller, lightweight plastic bottles? And go ahead and carry the LifeStraws to suck them through, just for extra protection?

      All bottled water has a shelf life, depending on how it is stored. Most bottled water is good for up to six (6) months, maybe more, as long as it hasn’t been kept in extreme heat. In the trunk of your car, not so long, of course.

      • life straw 256 gallons max, dirty water less….recommend sawyer with additional carbon….see high water filters and their recommendations…flushable long life ideas

    • And if you really just want to carry the small, individual bottles, look for some old, cotton socks – you know, the mates to the ones the dryer ate? You know you have them – we all do!

      Slip your individual bottles down inside a cotton sock. Now store. It will protect the plastic bottle from damage and extend the life of the contents. Then you could put them inside a plastic tub/carrier with a fitted lid. Some styrofoam insulation around the inside of the plastic carrier might not hurt, either.

    • If it comes down to water stored in the vehicle or no water, I’m drinking it. Can filter or boil it first.

    • pistol pete says:

      I keep water in my vehicles year round, but not exposed to direct sunlight. no problems.

  2. patientmomma says:

    I have read that an air burst EMP strike will and will not take out cell towers and operation centers, phone lines for land lines, solar power systems and those types of things. What is the truth? What are the variables? What does it depend on?

    • Kinda depends on how well protected they are, and how long their power (fuel ) holds out…. Really good protection techniques ( MOV, filters) & some stuff will survive.

      Vacuum tube stuff is fairly resistant… So guess what kind of ham equipment I choose!??

    • @patientmomma
      I think the lines and towers may be ok. But, all equipment attached to those lines will be fried. Same for cell towers, the towers may be ok, but the equipment is not shielded and will fry. Now, for solar power, I’m not sure at all. My feeling is that since a non-grid tie solar power system does not have the long wiring attached, it may be ok. Or at most the blocking diode in the solar panel may be shorted out. And the charge controller would probably need to be replaced. So, keep an extra charge controller (or two) along with some blocking diodes in your Faraday cage.
      That is for a nuclear or man made EMP. For a solar EMP, all bets are off! A solar EMP can last for hours or even days, pumping more and more power into the equipment constantly.

      • I have tried to figure out what will happen to the solar panels. I really don’t know. I have MOV’s across them, but sufficiently far removed that there may still be (transmission line) higher voltages on the panels, and they may be damaged. I have siginificant surge arresters at every possible point of the charge controller / inverter connections and I would guess that these have a fair chance of survival, but I have spares just in case.

        I also keep spare solar panels. Some are in aluminum foil (lots of it!) and some haven’t gotten that far yet…..

        Put the MOV / surge arreestor devices as close as you can to your charge controllers/ inverters and use as short wiring as reasonably possible.

        MOST of the power in the EMP is below 100 MHz, so the wiring lengths within a panel box may work reasonably well to protect your equipment. Midnite Solar has a very impressive video demonstating the ability of their arrester to protect expensive gear. I was very impressed.

        • Aussie Prepper says:

          Doc, can you clarify something for me please? The blocking diode – that is the bit that stops current going the other way at night right?

          What are they, where are they and are they easy to replace?

          I took my retreat off grid – 12v DC appliances only (fridge and freezer, lights, water pump – no inverter or 240 volt appliances) and I am very happy with it. Not a big system but it is plenty for the needs of my kids and I. I am planning on having a second complete system in a hardened cage – probably in 3mm steel and sealed by welding all seams, then buried.



    • patientmomma:

      The cell tower and the operations center will still be there, the power to them is the question. With no commercial AC coming in, the towers will have to rely on generators and their systems which my or may not be affected depending upon their internal electronics and a bunch of other things. Then there is the question of whether it will effect you phone itself.

      IMO the real truth is that we just don’t know. The more compact the electronics, and the more “long wires” that are involved in your system, the more susceptible your system is to failure.

      Personally, if I don’t have it protected, I’m not planning on it working. So any “system” that is commercially available, IMO, won’t be around or around for long.

      EMP is predicted to seriously effect “long line” wires, like power lines and telephone lines. Solar systems have lots of parts, any one failing will bring your system down. The cells themselves may be okay, but the regulator could get fried. Result: no power.

      • Adam Selene says:

        Most if not all cell towers have automatic back up generators that is why the system normally stays up when the power goes out. The question is will those generators survive the emp. I don’t know the answer to that one.

        • and how long will their fuel last?

          • What I was told when I was in the industry was 3 days.

          • Worked @ hundreds of cell towers over the years. The grounding systems of cell towers are quite intricate.

            There is often a pit dug b4 tower & housings installed. There is a mesh put down, 2# about 1′ squares. As deep as 60′. This is in chgo metro area.

            I doubt codes as strict out west- rock!

            Pigtails come up from mesh, whereby sites are bonded to them. Most sites have electrical boxes bonded from conduit to conduit, doorways bonded, etc. It’s pretty thorough.

            This is because the towers are ‘multi-tasked’- they are giant lightning rods also. Just like power & phone poles. They all attract lightning. Some locations have more case of trble issues than others.

            The amount of fuel ‘depoted’ depends on the site’s purpose. Some are hubs, some are busy, some not so. I’m guessing an EMP will take out ‘some’ leaving others intact.

            The issue is addressed by engineering & planning depts w/each cell company, but done per codes & budget available & use.

            As I’ve retired near 4 years, the EMP topic prolly addressed, but a total solution done on an incremental basis.

          • In Florida, (Proudly known as the lightening capitol of the world) we had 911 sites with cell phone towers almost always attached or very close. The bonding and grounding got very elaborate there also. They had what they called “chemical wells” at some locations to improve the potential to ground because of the extreme amount of lightening hits and soil makeup. At one time 911 sites used to pop like corks there before we re-grounded them to a spec that exceeded the NEC. The local electricians used to whine about what we wanted, but they would do it anyway because it was superior to the code and we paid the bill. They are a lot more stable now than they used to be.

          • Our tower is very rural and in a fringe location, we have lost power a lot in the past, just like clock work the propane runs out at 18 hrs.

    • The solar flare of history that took out telegraph lines (obviously unshielded) caused lines to burn, stretch or melt. Poles burned and started fires. Junctions sparked and sometimes exploded, and people reported a loud humming noise from the lines just before all this happened.
      Modern electrical lines are sometimes shielded, and some newer transformers are, but many cities and rural towns do not have the newer equipment. An overwhelmed transformer can burn out or even catch fire or explode. Adequately shielded line is far more expensive than average line, so lines might still melt or burn, stretch and break. The step-down unit that brings electricity to your home is usually not shielded. That too, may burn out.
      Modern communications lines are better shielded than in the past, so they might be able to withstand an EMP burst if on the periphery of such an event. But, seeing as how many of these towers are at a height, that might in turn make them more vulnerable to receiving a pulse.
      I can tell you another possibility regarding cell towers is that if such an emergency occurred, and the cell towers survived, those lines (frequencies) would be pre-empted by Emergency Management for emergency use only. You, the average citizen, would not be able to get through very easily to anyone else on your cell phone, though a land-line may still be available to citizens.

    • Aussie Prepper says:

      patientmomma – like you I have been reading from various sources of the effectiveness (or not) of EMP’s. And one person will tell you an EMP will fry cars electronics and they become 2 ton boat anchors, someone else will tell you the engine may stall but will start up again straight away.

      Personally, I think “early” nukes that would have caused serious problems in their day may not be so effective now but who knows? I am absolutely certain there are weaponised nuke EMP’s out there that are light years more potent – it stands to reason doesnt it? Look at warefare and imagine this – assume Russia, China, N Korea or some rogue in the Middle East had a “mega” EMP and popped a few off over the US and Western Europe. Those countries would destroy themselves from within in a very short time without the aggressor putting a single boot on the ground.

      I am also absolutely certain the US has also been working on mega and infinitely more effective EMP’s for the same reason.

      I have 3 main fears that will each bring about TEOTWAWKI – total economic collapse, a worldwide pandemic and WW3/EMP – in roughly that order. I may not have enough time left on this earth to see any of them but I really do think I will.

      Like all here I hope for the best but plan for the worst.


  3. Travis Harris says:

    How do I properly protect my 9000 watt generators from an emp attack ?

    • Travis, I can’t prove this, but here is my suggestion:
      1. Keep them disconnected from long wires if possible. That will avoid them being connected to long “antennas” that can pick up large amounts of the E1 EMP wave.
      2. Assuming they aren’t automatic, you might want to install a “shorting plug” that has a 5 amp fuse shorting out the contacts — this will further reduce the impressed voltage on them in the event of an EMP, but if you accidentally crank them, it will harmlessly blow.
      3. You probably want to buy a backup “voltage regulator” portion of your generator and keep it in a faraday cage like device (metal trash can, for example)
      4. The geomagnetic stuff is really only a risk if you are connected to large loops of wire that have significant included area. This is less likely unless you have your generator connected to a very big wiring system. I don’t know what you’re doing with yours.

      I keep my generators unplugged and I have spares. One of these days I’m going to make the shorting plugs.

    • I would get rid of that, you’ll go through gasoline like water through fingers. But you could place it in a large metal cabinet and tape the cracks with metalic tape from the hardware store. Lots of YouTube videos showing this and testing it to prove signals can’t get through. Could double the barrier by placing thermal foil insulation on the interior walls of the cabinet.

    • Have you considered constructing a metal shed around the generators that can act as a Farraday cage? Something you could open up when you intend to use them?

  4. When the cars die things will get bad very quickly … People will realize its not just a power outage….
    emergancy services will be nonexistent and once the people know this all bets are off …
    And truthfully no one is really prepared for this type of disaster … We can talk we can prepare but when it hits the best plans will go to the wayside …

    • Hi Retired, “When the cars die things will get bad very quickly … ”

      Boy, that’s for sure.

      I have read some very inconclusive reports that while some vehicles will die, others which were not being operated at the time will be fine. Also some evidence that many of those knocked out while operating could be restarted simply by turning off the ignition, and turning the car back on.

      Some apparently would be damaged to some extent, but would still operate.

      All of this suggests that we really don’t know what would happen to vehicles. The design, power, and distance of the EMP bomb would all affect its impact on a variety of electronics, including those in vehicles.

      If ten percent stopped working, the traffic hazards alone would be a problem, but probably not in themselves a civilization ending catastrophe. 20%? 40? 70? Who knows, especially as other electronics would also be effected.

      One thing I like to keep in mind is that EMP novelists generally posit a worst case possible scenario, which is great for a novel, but inherently unlikely in real life.

      That doesn’t mean it is impossible, and the effects of the power grid going down even in some areas would be awful, but all the modern cars and trucks just dying in place may not be a major part of the problem.

      The biggest problem as I read it is the long power lines across the country acting as antenna hundreds of miles long gathering the EMP and burning out transformers and probably some wires themselves. No power, no water, no gas station pumps working.

      So many/most cars and trucks might still work just fine, but couldn’t get gas for long without pumps working- not because the pumps are dead but from lack of electricity.

      Same thing with water: the water grid might survive pretty much okay -unless the power surge burned out key components- but still wouldn’t work without power.

      So the short term effect might be the same: no water for millions of people. On the other hand, if the water grid itself mostly survived, it would be easier and faster to restore than if it was destroyed.

      My take: we don’t know what the effects of a major EMP attack would be. It would be designed to be awful. But we don’t know how bad it would actually be, which makes it tough to prepare effectively.

      It seems to me that a very important part of preparations for an EMP attack would be having several months worth of stored water, or living in easy walking distance of a reliable water source plus having the ability to purify it. Or a hand pump and well.

      Here’s a link to the 2004 “Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack ”


      It says: ” significant degradation of the transportation
      infrastructures are likely to occur in the immediate aftermath of an EMP attack. For example, municipal road traffic will likely be severely congested, possibly to the point of wide-area gridlock, as a result of traffic light malfunctions and the fraction of operating cars and trucks that will experience both temporary and in some cases unrecoverable engine shutdown. Railroad traffic will stop if communications with railroad control centers are lost or railway signals malfunction. Commercial air traffic will likely cease operations for safety and other traffic control reasons. Ports will stop loading and unloading ships until commercial power and cargo hauling infrastructures are restored. ”

      Here is another view: “Effect of the FAST NUCLEAR ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE on the Electric Power Grid Nationwide: A Different View” by Mario Rabinowitz of the Electric Power Research Institute.


      It is mostly heavy on math, but concludes:

      “Based upon the analyses presented in this paper and in Refs. [7-81, it appears highly improbable if not impossible that the EMP from a single nuclear burst could blackout this nation’s power grid. It would be practically impossible for the EMP to cause widespread damage to the U.S. transmission line system. With the exception of isolated cases, it appears highly
      unlikely that EMP could produce extensive damage to the U.S. distribution grid. A single nuclear device exploded at high altitude will not render vital electrical services inoperable across the entire United States as has been suggested in many media references.

      Concurrent multiple bomb bursts will not have an additive TEMP effect, and will even interfere to produce less TEMP than a single burst. ”

      So who knows?

      • Selu Corn Mother says:

        Penrod, Very well thought out reply, looks as though you’ve actually done some research instead of just writing out your opinion.

        Seems to me, and this is only MY OPINION, that most of the commenters would be well served to take a few minutes to do some research on what an EMP would likely do to their way of life, and prepare for it.

        Some of the comments, and a few remarks by the author of this article lead me to believe that not a lot of research was done.

        • Hi Selu Corn Mother, Thanks. Yes, I have spent some time poking around online. It is time consuming, so I tend to bookmark sites like the ones above and put the bookmarks in a Preps folder. There are getting to be enough of them perhaps I should subdivide it…

          In any case, I really do think it is important to distinguish between reports by well informed groups and even the best novels. I don’t criticize the novelists for depicting worst case scenarios, or even perhaps worse than worst possible scenarios: they aren’t scientific writers, they are entertainers. They also provide a very useful service by making dry reports into “I was there” stories, and that helps visualize possible outcomes. It’s just important to distinguish between the two.

          Example: In EMP novels, airplanes typically rain down from the sky. In the reports we see things like “Commercial air traffic will likely cease operations for safety and other traffic control reasons.” My take on that -which may be wrong- is that air traffic control towers will lose power at some point, possibly after fuel for back up generators runs out. If that is the case airplanes will not rain down, and there will be plenty of time to safely land all planes in the air. It may be some time -days, weeks, whatever- before widespread air traffic can resume, but people in the air during the attack will likely be fine. IF that’s the case, that is a big contrast with the novels, which, again, I thoroughly enjoy.

          • Penrod:

            Currently reading “Powerless” and it has concerns about aircraft loosing communications with the towers and other aircraft. Their other systems, including radar, kept working.

          • So in an emp, it would not affect the jet engines of planes? Is that correct?

          • Hi redC: “So in an emp, it would not affect the jet engines of planes?”

            I don’t know, but that is the way I read some reports.

            I’ll be the first to say though that I don’t know for sure, and it sounds like even the highly informed either don’t know or look at the same data and come to different conclusions.

            That in fact was one of Ted Koppel’s major points in his book about a possible cyberattack on the North American power grids: Highly informed people with professional responsibility for some aspect of the power grids look at the same data and come to different conclusions. I think it is important to be aware of that apparent uncertainty.

            Planes are designed to take lightning strikes and keep on flying because lightning strikes aren’t especially uncommon. Lightning and EMP are not the same thing though, so what works for lightning may give little protection against EMP, or may give quite a bit. Even lots. I don’t know.

            However, I don’t recall seeing any professional literature which claimed that airliners would belly flop all over the country after an EMP. It may be out there though, so anyone concerned about EMP should spend some time noodling around the Internet looking for professional reports.

            News media stories and commentary based on professional reports may lead one to the original reports by name if not with a link. I would not make plans based soley on the news reports or comments: go to the original source documents, or professional industry summaries like the Lloyds Insurance report “Solar Storm Risk to the North American Electric Grid” on the likely effect of a major CME on the North American power grid from an insurance industry perspective. Here:


            It’s a bit dry, but clearly this insurance giant takes the issue seriously. They conclude that a massive Carrington size event would have a lot of people in seriously deep trouble, but ultimately we would recover in a few weeks to a couple years: In both best case and worst case no small thing, but not the end of civilization. Especially for those who prepare in advance.

            Here is a UK government report “Space Weather
            Preparedness Strategy”:


            They expect a CME would do less damage to the UK because of the size of the country: among other things, their cross country power lines are much shorter than ours so they probably won’t absorb as much energy.

            These of course are about CMEs, not EMPs. CMEs damage electronics by accident, EMPs do so by design. That suggests to me that EMPs might be a lot more effective.

            I think these are the types of documents we should spend some time finding and reading, bookmarking, and sharing. These are what the professionals are telling each other. That they don’t always agree with each other doesn’t negate their value. Knowing what the disagreements are is important.

      • Penrod,
        I agree with your view. I just wish Washington were as concerned about our power as they are their own. (NO pun intended) You know they have employed every hardening technique they can come up with for themselves while the nincompoops in Congress continue to argue whether it is necessary for the country’s grid.

    • When I was growing up, being the Cold War and all, we were taught as kids about the EMP effects of a close nuclear strike. (Close, because obviously ground zero meant we didn’t exist anymore to care about an EMP) We were taugh that cars in the affected area would survive as long as their batteries were not connected at the time of the explosion. A lucky few might be able to still use their cars if the battery hadn’t burned out their entire wiring system.
      Additional research has shown that the older carburated systems would fare better than fuel injected, and cars with computers will be toast. It may still be possible to rework a car to run without a computer (bypass it), but some understanding of older transportation technology would be very useful, here.

  5. I was leaving to go out yesterday and saw the delivery truck for home oxygen bottles to a neighbor. This service will not be available in ANY SHTF situation. It will not have to be and EMP for them to no longer deliver.

  6. I don’t have every answer. So I need to keep learning. Have cage, need wind power, inverter, batteries….keep working on holes in prep.

  7. After seven years of straight ‘prepping,’ we have kind of turned the corner to more of a self-sufficiency attitude (although we keep many prep items, for sure). Of course, we know we cannot be completely self-sufficient in everything. However, my thinking now is that we will NOT be living the same way as we were before grid down. That’s how we are preparing. I hope to not depend on electricity at all, if possible. I look to the Amish community as my inspiration. but, of course, I continue more prudent preparations such as three-tiered gardening (main raised beds gardens and greenhouses, “hidden-in-plain-site” gardens-think veggies in the flower beds, And “guerilla” gardening in the wilds behind us yet still on our property). Another example, we also installed back-up wood heat, and oil lamps. I am stocking more seed than bullets and band-aids although I have those also. And I will replenish those oil lamps with oil sunflower seeds I hope to start growing this year.

    I would love to know everyone’s thought’s about this way of thinking. I learn so much from everyone here, and I do not think the very near future bodes well for any of us. Just my opinion.

    Blessings to everyone. And a very Merry Christmas!

    • DJ5280:

      I agree with your assessment. My “plan” is to mitigate the immediate problems and gain time to “adapt”.

      • JP in MT
        Exactly! Well said. We also have simplified things as much as possible here, and gotten ourselves physically fit this past year which has been the BEST prepping I could ever have done. Strength and stamina will be critical in the future, I believe. My thanks.

        • Could not agree more. I’ve lost 25 pounds so far, and regained a little muscle. Stamina has increased, too, because I don’t want to be the one that can’t keep up.

    • I have lived in the Amish capital of the world my whole life. Most all have at least 2 or 3 solar panels now of days. If you would want to see true Amish living, you’d need to look up the Swartzentruber order of Amish. They still use wind mill water pumps and only use wood for heat. A lot of the Amish have modernized quite a bit, no where near the level of today’s society, but a lot more than what they were 20 years ago. The Amish name has really turned in to more of a marketing scheme than a religion/way of life.

      • I forgot to mention most have cell phones as well.

      • Seriously? I did not think they would modernize at all. The Amish, that is. Still, we will simplify as much as possible tho I confess we have our ” moments” , mine being handfuls of Dove Milk Chocolates STUFFED in my mouth! (Sorry, I’m weak!”.

        • I visited a Mennonite community about 15 miles from where I live this summer. They have lots of clever ways to get things done. The general store was well lit with bubble dome skylights. I got to see one of their woodworking shops and was surprised to see modern industrial band-saws, lathes, planers, table-saws, etc. The only thing I could think was they were using electricity. I was wrong. All this machinery had a shaft that went through the floor to the basement with gears on it. The gears were connected to a belt that went outside to a turnstile where horses walked in a circle to turn it. I figure it was a grand total of about 3 hp. (Pun Intended)

          • Good one, kybelboy!

          • Thank you, Thank you very much!
            I’ll be leaving the building now…

          • There are instances where they still use that. I’m from Homes County, Ohio. I’ve had Amish neighbors my whole life. It depends what “order” Amish there are. Old order Amish do not use modern convinces, New order Amish will. There is a saying around here “There only as Amish as they have to be”

    • DJ5280: We are doing a lot of what you are doing. Learning to live a different lifestyle, and loving it! Problems and inconveniences, and all!

      I am so thankful my DH installed the wood stove recently. Our electric-fired, LP-burning 10-year-old furnace is on the fritz again. The LP guy showed up this a.m. to fill the tank. We told him not to bother. The wood stove heats the entire upper level (1700 s/f) with no problem. And our land is covered in wood, so, shouldn’t run out of “fuel”, ever, if we manage our land well.

      Self-sufficient lifestyle is hard work, sometimes frustrating, and well worth it, IMO! When the world is running around like chickens with their heads cut off, we’re relaxing. It’s all good.

      • Pat R

        Thank goodness! I either laugh or cry at the new lifestyle! Truth be told: I laugh! Farm TV anyone? Better than anything on the television! I still firmly believe the simpler our lives the better we survive. God bless all. I’ve truly come to care for all of you.

  8. Rob in Ontario says:

    An EMP either from a solar flare or nuclear device is something I plan for , the experts say theres a 30% chance a major solar flare will occur in the next 50 years . Patientmomma from what I read an air burst will wipe out the towers of all kinds , and any device not protected

  9. There are about 3 million people who have pacemakers implanted in their chest, including me. There will be little or no warning when I will suddenly drop dead with the other three million people with the same health issue.

    • Not really guaranteed you will die. Those things are made a whole bunch better these days, with significant elctrostatic and other protections. The wiring attached isn’t that long (just 10 or so inches). Your conductive body provides a bit of shielding in fact. We occasionally have surgeons use electrocautery (10,000 volts) nearby and there is often no problem. We had ONE paitent conked out many years ago, fried the entire pacemaker. But that is quite rare now.

      Keep a stiff upper lip!!

      • PrepperDoc, have a question for you. My granddaughter, age 28, has a Vagus Nerve Stimulator, VGS, implanted like a pacemaker and wired to the Vagus nerve. She just had the large battery inserted 4 months ago giving her 7-8 years before the battery needs replaced. I am presuming she may be able to survive the initial EMP if the point of attachment to the Vagus nerve does not burn, ie., MRI use. Would love some imput. I am also looking at alternative medication to reduce seizure activity. She has Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, rough one. She takes 3 medications for seizures and 1 for anxiety disorder. I have run acoss some ideas, but dosage is the critical issue. Thanks for your insight into chronic issues.

        • Oral Magnesium reduces seizures for people. Serotonin is low in anxiety but is harder to fix. 5Htp does help and anti depressants do too.

        • PrepperDoc says:

          The E1 pulse is less than a microsecond, so a burn is unlikely. The E3 pulse will not affect the vagal nerve stimulator. The E2 pulse is even less of a problem.

          • Thank you PrepperDoc. I have heard so many stories about not using MRI on her and problems with pacemakers that I transferred that worry over to her VGS.

        • Doc J. God be with you. I had vagus nerve issues after birth of my second child. It actually healed itself after a few months. Don ‘t know if this is helpful or not but will keep your family in prayer.


  10. I live in rural Nebraska and know lots of people who already live life with no electricity what’s so ever. They have artesian springs, are well armed and 95% self sufficient. I’m sure people like that will be well sited for an EMP.

  11. tech, who needs it? who would i talk to, what messages will i receive if i kept my gear in faraday cages?

    • I’m pretty sure that most all of my ham gear will do just fine, even if it is connected and up and running….. There is a fair chance that some or all of my solar power will survive also…..but I have spares for just about all of it just in case. I plan to continue having electricity! I plan to repair other peoples’ busted stuff and that might be one of my vocations then….. I’ve stocked up on parts, etc.

    • I don’t want a lot of tech, just a radio. The day stuff fails, my cell gets broken down into it’s various components and thrown into a pond. I have alternate lighting (windows, candles and lanterns), even a bit of solar. I have paper and pens for record keeping, books to read, a grill to cook on and we are working on re-acquiring an alternate heating source. Once that’s done, I could easily leave all the tech behind.

    • RR:

      But how will you know what the government wants you to do if you don’t have any way for them to get information to you. It is your responsibility to provide the government with a way to contact you! (Sarcasm off)

      • PrepperDoc says:

        My concern is to have access to intelligence about what is coming down the pike from the next county or the next state over. I’m not the only one who will have communications still working so a network will re-develop.

        • PrepperDoc:

          I too want a quality, locally based information system. Of course if the government is involved I think we loose the “quality” issue.

  12. We distill our water and keep around 40 gallons on hand which we rotate A small amount of bleach (PLAIN) approx. 1/2 a teaspoon is added to each gallon..These gallons are used to fill our small water bottles for our bug out bags that are in our vehicles Hope everyone has a safe and great Christmas and New Years

  13. For anyone who watched the tv show ERA Alaska this is a airline that flies the north pole where solar flares large and small are common, a large flare will knock out their GPS and other navigation systems, when the the effects of the flare are gone the equipment would come back online, I am sure they must lose done equipment but as a whole the systems stay intact. A nuclear emp would probably be much more severe, I have a medium size solar system non grid connected which has all charge controllers and inverters isolated in a large aluminum box with flex conduit covering the wires, but if permanent damage is done to the cell towers and phone systems and the spare components stored in the warehouse all the protected electronics we have will be useless for quite some time, just think not being able to come to this web site or go online for six months. How will you communicate .

  14. A very interesting question is whether your vehicle will survive. Modern cars (with computer controlled spark creation /delivery, no distributor) are at some risk I would guess, even with all their incredible filterig & surge protection.

    My solution has been to find a diesel that has ONE injector pump and a mechanically based fuel distribution system and a rather simple electrically operated control for that injector pump. I think I can rig up a simple rheostat that will control the pump and act as my accelerator pedal.

    My other solution is to maintain one older vehicle that still has a distributor, no important computer at all, and I keep a spare for the only electronic part (distributor sensor) within a metal can in the car, with tools to install it. Obviously I have significant fuel stores also. There won’t be much need for driving (except to get home) unless you want to be a bullseye target…..but I want to have the option….and my tractor WILL still run so I’ll be plowing….

  15. We will have a day (or so) to prepare in the case of a solar flare. The sun is watched 24/7 and reports made if there’s a flare heading in our direction. The Carrington event was seen by the astronomer Carrington in 1859, it hit the earth 17.6 hours later. That was a fast CME, most take 2-3 days to reach us. NASA noted a Carrington class flare in 2012, but it missed the earth. Preparation time in the case of an EMP attack would be much less (or none at all), of course.

    A solar flare can be much more powerful than any EMP device man has available. A CME may last for days, an EMP is basically instantaneous.

    From DoD: “The peak electric field (and its amplitude) at the Earth’s surface from a high-altitude burst will depend upon the explosion yield, the height of the burst, the location of the observer, and the orientation with respect to the geomagnetic field. As a general rule, however, the field strength may be expected to be tens of kilovolts per metre over most of the area receiving the EMP radiation.”

    If there is warning, disconnecting your house from the grid could keep your place intact. Trip and pull the breakers, then ground your side as much as you can. That should protect you from electrical house fires. Ground your vehicles as well, battery negative or frame to earth. The older steel-clad and non-electronic vehicles will fare the best, of course. Time permitting, solar panels should be dismounted, foil-wrapped and buried, along with regulators, batteries should be disconnected. Disconnect and ground, that’s the key. A length of wire becomes an antenna and will pick up the power of the flare or EMP. Limit those lengths and discharge that power into the earth.

    Anything put in a conductive box (like an ammo box) and then buried should be okay.

    • Like many others here, I think you have shared some especially important information here. Thank you, very much!

    • PrepperDoc says:

      May I suggest a few changes to these advice?
      1. The EMP has two important portions, the E1 (very fast) and the E3 (much slower, minutes). You protect them differently.
      2. The geomagnetic Carrington type event is more like an E3.
      3. Foil wrapping is for E1 protection, not for geomagnetic (solar) protection.
      4. It *is* possible to protect radios from E1 without putting them into Faraday cages. Some military radios have been shown hardened. Vacuum tube ham radio equipment and some mobile equipment survived simulated tests. I’ve already published information on how to protect both tube and transistorized equipment, to at least some extent, from E1.
      5. I’m just not 100% sure of what will be the effect on solar panels. I’ve already written elsewhere on this page the solutiosn that I chose for htat.
      6. A reasonable length of wire is unaffected by a solar flare. Miles of wire is a different story.
      7. A few feet of wire may pick up thousands of volts from E1 — but it may last for only a few nanoseconds and can be potentially protected with MOV’s or diodes appropriately placed.
      8. I’m writing a book on these items.

      Hope that helps…..PrepperDoc.

  16. To answer the question in the title: Yes. People managed to survive for millennia without technology or more properly, advanced technology. People survive today without any advanced technology. Adapt, improvise, overcome. Life will revert back to being short, hard and brutish for a while then get some better as the changes get normalized. The ones that will have the hardest time will be those that try too hard to cling to what was rather than adapting to what is. Lol..I’m guilty of that myself, here I am running a long term offgrid test and I continue to waste resources on power for keeping a laptop and router up and running. And yes, I do still miss my multi-monitor setup but what I’m learning is worth it.

  17. Ted Koppel, a mainstream media figure, in his new book, Lights Out, says that a grid down event is a matter of WHEN, not IF. & a cyber attack on the grid is also possible; either emp or cyberattack.
    A friend of mine is starting a small business to install solar systems to pump well water in SE OK/ NE Tex.

  18. Beano McReano says:

    This is such a tempting target I am almost 100% certain this is the way a war will start or end.

    You should practice what happens when you have no electricity so you won’t be shocked! Sorry for the pun, hon.

    • One other thought: Even if there is no EMP event, natural or man-made, protocols within Homeland do allow for the deliberate disruption of electrical power in the grid to control troublesome parts of the country. The theory is that people will capitulate and cooperate if their precious electricity is gone.

  19. Crazy Stevo says:

    My background is in banking. I admit it is not in electric or in magnetics. When I worked in the vault at the bank, we would lose power every few months, we did not have a backup power source. When this happened our magnetic locks would lock us in. These are the same locks they use in jails, prisons and other buildings to keep people in or out. Confirmed this from several jails, friends and relatives work at them. A EMP will not allow all prisoners to be released.

    • Crazy Steve, I believe that like every thing else there are a lot of speculation as to what would happen in case of a emp, I believe some are probably fact and some fiction, I have prepared my solar system for what I believe to be the worst case scenario, all my equipment is in a faraday cage with surgprotector s on both sides, as mentioned above Mid-Night solar is the go to place, they have a very good web site and blog where all most all questions can be answered. The engineer’s there have invented almost all of the solar operating equipment on the market today.

  20. CountryGirl says:

    Maybe! Maybe not. Nothing is perfect and it is unlikely that an EMP will simply destroy all electronics. AND anything that man can build man can fix and it is unlikely that we wouldn’t begin fixing it right away. Prepare for an EMP or a killer asteroid but both are less likely than WW III or many of the realistic threats terrorists present.

  21. Well now lets see got a pellet burner for grid up heat.
    Replaces the regular wood heat much cleaner and easier on these old bone.. Old wood burner is still here and is good in grid down. If you heat with pellets or go the pellet route buy good pellets and good stove, the cheap stuff is that cheap and many of my fiend got well! Ripped off. Learned form there advice. This unit takes almost no electric to keep it running I had a meter on it and was shocked. Firing it up and once burning it 100+ of times cheeper that any electric furnace around and is that nice warm wood heat. Also bought a case of Bega cheese and Red Feather canned butter all on sale. I would recommend both of these it is surprising good tasting. And last, and they keep very well. Also picked up a bunch of high cap map mags for use or barter. there were any good deals on line. But they have dwindled. (Santa must have grabbed them for stoking stuffers.) I do not to think the elves build mags, Do They? Also a few week back reported I pick up an AR lower all poly but the springs seem to work fine. But 1000 rounds +- is no real test. But it do like the reduced weight.
    Got a little silver while it is down. MMM so Now I am broke but still own no one nothing except property taxes and insurance. Out of debt.. Shot my wade of cash for a few months..

    Well Merry Christmas to All the the PACK My you all be Blessed now and in the coming years. I wish you all hope prosperity, keep a stiff upper lip and the shinny side up and the rubber down.
    And I really hope thing do not get ugly..
    I am gone.

  22. “An electromagnetic pulse, EMP, is a short disturbance of electromagnetic energy, either from a man-made or natural occurrence. ” This statement is technically incorrect. “Natural” electromagnetic disturbances, such as a solar coronal mass ejection (CME), do not produce the E1 phase that occurs in a nuclear EMP attack. Furthermore, a solar CME can last for days, where the three phases of a nuclear EMP will be over in a matter of seconds.

  23. My main concern in the scenario would be fecal matter disposal. I live in what most would consider a small town (about 2,800 people), but the biggest town in my county. My best plan is sticking trash can liners in 5 gallon buckets. Tying them off, then sealing the buckets and moving them outside to a drum barrel. Does any one else have any better solutions?

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