Planning on Surviving a Nuclear, Large-Scale EMP. Here’s How.

Hello fellow survivalists, this is Seamus Finn, writing to you from the beautiful, French-speaking province of Québec, Canada.

Some of you might already have considered the risks of a large-scale EMP attack over North-America. To the few of you who have not, this is but a small amount of information that might help you survive an EMP-related TEOTWAWKI. The author does not consider himself to be an expert about this matter, but would like to share his little bit of wisdom about what he sees as the most potential survival scenario to happen in the next few years, months maybe.

First of all, here are some frequently-asked questions about EMP attacks.

1: Would an EMP affect items that are unpowered at the moment of the pulse?

Answer : Yes, it would definitely ruin any unpowered, printed-circuit, technological item that remains unprotected at the very moment of TEOTWAWKI.

2: Would a homemade Faraday cage protect my equipment?

Answer: It depends. Most industrial/military Faraday cages rely on a self-sufficient, internal power-supply that would, too, remain unaffected by an EMP attack because it is self-protected inside the Faraday cage. Most homemade designs I have seen consist of a .50 caliber ammo box or an aluminum/steel trash bin that is linked to a car battery or some other non-reliable apparatus. The idea of making a survival Faraday cage is good, but the cage needs some specifics to be considered :

The size of each hole in the cage must be smaller than the wavelength of the pulse/excess charge.

The power supply of the cage must be DC and placed inside of it, because the 3 waves of particles that follow an EMP attack can last from 2 to several minutes, so it’s very likely that a power-supply located outside the cage would only protect the content for about 5 nanoseconds.

It needs not be grounded. Actually, it is better not be.

Partial Faraday Cages (such as a microwave oven or a car) MAY protect items that are inside.

Since it is impossible to really test a Faraday cage, don’t rely on it too much.

3: How likely is it that a rogue country would detonate a nuclear device above North America?
Answer : Well, if I was a psychopathic, red-button-owning, aggressive dictator, I definitely would. Most countries do NOT have sufficient nuclear power to set ablaze large countries such as the United-States or Canada. The best and most reliable way to ruin these countries, considering they completely depend on electricity, would be to launch a 1MT nuclear warhead in space above North-America (see graph), rather than destroy MAYBE 0.1% of their industrial capacities with above-ground-detonations like in Hiroshima.

So here comes the main topic. I know very few survivalists who would completely refute the risk of such an attack on American soil (or space). Since it is one of the most credible man-caused TEOTWAWKI scenarios, I strongly suggest that every survivalist consider it when prepping. In this matter, this text will focus on how to adapt to the possibility of an EMP attack and the best ways to survive it if it were to happen.

The very first thing to do when prepping for such an event is to acquire skills and knowledge about the way an EMP attack would affect a post-industrialized country such as the United-States. Know that electric centrals would stop generating power.

Most cars would completely stop working (forget about your nice automatic transmission sedan or pickup truck, pals), television, radio and Internet news networks as well as government emergency signals would be off, there would be no more running water and oil/gas facilities would stop working. Since urban citizens do not produce their own food, the cities would be full of hunger-driven rioters and raiders.

It would be a nightmare to live in a city after the first 48 hours. Considering this, a good prepper needs to plan his bugging out routine according to the situation. Rural citizens, on the other hand, would be mostly unaffected by riots and chaos, unless there is a large city less than a hundred miles around.

A good prepper needs to learn skills and knowledge about how to work things out when completely off the grid. Basic skills such as gardening, power-generation, raising livestock and building structures are essential, but gathering and preserving food, as well as treating water on a long-term basis must not be neglected.

So now, how can someone survive such a crisis? Let’s focus on getting out of the city for a minute. Remember, your car doesn’t work. Actually, less than 1% of the cars would keep working after an EMP. Only some pre-90’s cars would not be affected by an EMP attack. And let’s say the pulse happened during the 4pm rush-hour.

ALL roads are blocked by idle, useless vehicles. So unless you go by foot or on a bicycle, you better bug-in. Plan on having a good-ol’ pickup truck and pray that the blast would occur at night. Still, let’s say you don’t have a running vehicle. You must go by foot. How far is your bug-out location? 50 miles? A hundred miles?

You better have cached supplies on the way, or you might just die of dehydration while bugging out. Is your flashlight affected by an EMP? If so, forget about nighttime traveling, you’ll be walking with the sun, pal. Buy yourself an oil lantern or risk having a shortage of light, especially during short days in winter.

Okay, you’re at your BOL, what now? Did you buy/build a manual water pump inside your shelter? If not, you’ll need to walk all the way to the nearest stream and then back to your shelter with several gallons of water, which is very energy and time-consuming. Did you plan on having a radio working? If not, better start building a Faraday cage right now.

No guarantee it will work, but it’s sure as hell better than NOT having one. Don’t forget to install your power supply inside the cage, or you’ll have a very bad surprise when the grid goes down. Sun goes down again; do you own candles, lanterns and other “antiques”? Did you spend most of your prepping budget on high-tech gear? A 200$ red-dot rifle sight is good, but you could also buy a basic scope instead. Or about a month of food supplies for the same price.

All these questions, a rural prepper must also ask himself. To rely on electricity is to trust international corporations and a corrupted government when it comes to basic needs such as eating, drinking and heating your home. A hobo stove is good, but a cast-iron wood stove is better, and you can use the chimney conducts to heat ALL of your home with these hot pipes. And you know the best? It’s less expensive than your brand new, flat-screen TV! WOW!

On a serious note now: remember Katrina. If a regional-scale event caused such a chaos on a mid-sized city, imagine what it would do if the whole east-coast was to be in the dark for a year. Most people would DIE or evacuate. Some would die trying to stand their ground, others would bug-out and maybe make it. But what if help never comes? What if you spend a whole year waiting for federal troops to restore order, while you had NO WAY of knowing that they have been sent away in another country for a large-scale war?

If you think you are ready for an EMP attack, you are wrong. You can only be less unprepared. Be wise, be self-sufficient, be geared, and pray that it never happens.

Seamus Finn
Webmaster, Survie et Préparation du Québec (SPQC)

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Isn’t this the same article you’ve posted a while ago, MD? I guess you liked it =P But I remember sending a new one last week, you could have posted it instead.

  2. Gunny Sgt. Ballbuster USMC retired says:



  3. Quick note on urban water supplies: If your town has a water tower, you may have running water even after the grid goes down, but not for long. So fill up some containers before you can’t.

  4. Remember to have back-ups. Try living without power for a week, see what you forgot uses power.

  5. Brush up on your map and compass skills-there won’t be any GPS unless you’ve hardened your unit. If you have to leave your location and your pre-planned route is packed with a herd of panicked city-dwellers, you may have to get creative.

    • This is a really good point. This is also why I don’t rely on the GPS when I go out. I try to rely on landmarks and compass points to get me in the right direction

      • And keep at least a basic paper map with you at all times. I have one of the state, which isn’t the greatest, but better than nothing, as well as my cheesy little compass on the matchsafe. I leave my ol’ Boy Scout compass at home now-can’t bear to lose it. If you haven’t done so, this is a great intro to the art:
        I haven’t done it in a while myself, but when I was a kid, I had a lot of fun doing that.

        For more advanced land navigation, go look up some of the survival library booksellers. But the BSA course should serve well enough for most folks. A good lensatic and that book would probably only run about twenty bucks with shipping.

        I use one of those combo firestriker/compass things as a key chain fob, so even though the compass is super-basic, I can at least see where I am on the map in a general way.

        • The merit badge book will cost you about $4.50

        • Will compasses survive EMP?

          Perhaps print out a manual on pre-compass navigation and print out the tools needed.

          • Winomega,
            In answer to your question about compasses surviving EMP, yes they will be completely unaffected by the pulse. Good training and practice with an old fashioned compass and printed map will trump any electronic navigation tools in a EMP, CME, or long term scenario. Electronics are great tools, with numerous features that old fashioned navigation tools can’t match. But you just can’t rely on them long term.

  6. Hunker-Down says:

    Thanks for your article. I printed it and the reference you made to the “Faraday Cages” article, and its’ embedded article, :EMP and What You Can do About it”.
    My knowledge of electricity stops at the wall switch, so this is another learning curve to overcome along with Ham radio and 24 volt solar. So much to learn, so much to buy. I ordered books on both topics yesterday.

    You just made me aware that if we go 12 volt solar I have to buy a duplicate set of equipment to put in the faraday cage. Crap, I’ll never be able to afford a 12 volt slow cooker. Does a 12 volt slow cooker have enough electrical components that it too needs to be protected by a faraday cage?

    As far as an EMP detonation in the atmosphere, don’t we have a shield of missals to protect us, or has that system been dismantled?

  7. If you use an ammo can as a farady cage,dont forget to remove the rubber gasket from the lid and fill that gap with aluminium foil to attain constant contact betweent the lid and body of the ammo can. ive done an experiment, while not scientific, showed interesting results where i placed a cell phone in an ammo can and called it. The phone rang, then i replaced the rubber gasket with the aluminium foil and called it again and it did not ring. heres a link if you want to see the experiment:

  8. well, tests i took part in failed to kill automobiles with the exception of one that cut off but was able to be restarted a few seconds later. further we determined that a pulse strong enough to disable vehicles and planes would have to be huge and close, close enough that the pulse would be the least of our worries. in fact we would not have any worries at all, having been incinerated in the millisecond before. we found that radios that were disconnected from their antennae and power survived intact, tho others were fried. but yes, the grid will suffer, at least locally and under the right circumstances regionally. other than that i totally agree with you.

    • RR would like to hear more about these test. There is so much contradictive info out there it is had to know what to believe.

      • riverrider says:

        i was in nbc(nuclear, biological and chemical) defense school at a location i cannot disclose for the army in i think 91, or 92. they asked if anybody had mechanical background. as i had just finished 63b mechanic school i went against my better judgement and volunteered. we went out to the field where we set up various vehicles with radios and other common gear, even had af guys with a prop plane and a small jet aircraft. our job was to see that everything was running correctly prior to the test. after the tests we went out and checked the vehicles conditions, and helped pull boxes of recording devices from the trucks and return them to service. the oic of the test was also my instructor so we talked at length about it during the rest of the course. admittedly this was 20 years ago but things are shielded better now as emp has been a concern since then. the main thing we found was that antenae, or anything that could act as one(say, a power cord) was bad news. good news was anything encased in metal, but not touching it, was okay, and planes sort of acted as their own faraday cage. they determined that increased output could do more damage but the megatonage and proximity precluded human activity anyway. that said, a CME can deliver many times what man can produce with nukes with no collateral damage by thermal, radioctive, or wind effects and on a much wider scale. result would theorectically be devastating.

        • Thanks, RiverRider

        • Let me back up RR here for a minute.
          EMP released by a nuke will diminish in strength the further it travels outward. The problem comes from the ability of power lines and antennas to collect EMP and send it down the line to your home or business. Something plugged into the wall will be burned out. The same type item sitting next to it but unplugged may not be.
          A vehicle on the first floor of a 4 level steel reinforced concrete parking garage may not be effected. It all depends on the distance involved and how strong the EMP wave is when it gets there.
          BTW: I was teaching this stuff back in 77and I am pretty sure I know where RR was in 91 or 92.
          The recent book that most people have read is based on a scenario that can only be called worse case and under ideal circumstances. Fast zombies are scarier then slow zombies.
          Also remember, a few days later, when all of the excited electrons in the atmosphere have settled down, your radio may be working but there may be no one transmitting.

          • EMP does not strictly follow the inverse square law. The damage caused by EMP depends on electric field intensity which diminishes linearly with distance. It’s similar to a TV or radio transmission. If radio followed the inverse square law, you couldn’t pick up a station more than a few miles away.

            • And don’t forget that an EMP generates several waves, and that every single one of them can damage electronics, although at different levels.

              I’ve found this calculator a few months ago. I have absolutely NO idea if it is credible or not, but it seems quite frightening to me.


            • GoneWithTheWind says:

              If it works in 3 dimensions it follows the inverse square law. Radio signals follow the inverse square law and indeed you can pick up some radio signals from halfway around the world.

            • Mad Dog,
              So we’ve repealed the inverse square law? I don’t think so. Radio and TV stations can reach out at distance due to large ERP (Effective Radiated Power) and the sensitibity of the receivers to operate with very small inputs.
              A 1000 watt station (small AM or FM broadcast) with phased antennas, can easily present 10,000 watts ERP.

        • RR,
          A CME will still generally only affect long antennas, like power transmission lines, and anything connected to them.

  9. Rob in Ontario says:

    An EMP can also be caused by a CME- cornal Mass Ejection from the sun odds are 12% that it will happen they say within the next 30 years

  10. Being as you are from Le Belle Province – Quebec, you will be aware of the James Bay Power project that supplies most of the NE US. If someone wanted to cause havoc blow up a few of the transmission towers in January. Several towers in a row and done several times would shut the power off would take weeks to repair. Many would freeze to death.

    • That is entirely true! The few nuclear reactors on the east coast are so not sufficient to provide power to the 100-millions-give-or-take people living there.

      The NE seabord relies almost entirely on Hydro-Québec dams. That would be a terrible blow to the United States, but not as devastating as a large-scale nuclear (or solar, if you prefer =P) EMP

  11. On reflection that should be James River. oops

  12. Great article, I just finished one second after and the book really gets you thinking. My Soc. professor in college has us watching several video clips on EMP he seems to be a real activist on the subject and it is scary stuff. One sometimes forgets about how long we could be out of luck some say a year and I have heard as much as 20 years before normal happens and that’s after 70-90 % die off. This country would truely never be the same.

    • hvaczach,
      “One Second After” is science fiction within the survival genre. It’s a good read, and a lot of the things the community does to survive gives you good ideas; however, the effect of the EMP is way over stated.

  13. GoneWithTheWind says:

    Why would any nation with the nuclear capability to create and deliver EMP devices use them against the U.S.? It would be incredibly stupid. It is a nuclear attack and one which would surely result in a nuclear counter attack. So why attack with these “bothersome” nukes leaving us capable of counterattacking with a couple thousand “real” nukes? It isn’t going to happen. I seriously believe the only reason an EMP keeps coming up is because it is a preppers wet dream. It is a serious attack (at least the way they choose to describe it) and it would leave them and everyone else alive. It would allow them to use their preps and thus live through the aftermath while (in theory) others would die. It is the perfect “proof” that they were right all along and everyone else was wrong. But it isn’t going to happen. No one is stupid enough to hit us with EMP devices. Now it is possible that someday we will be hit with a nuclear attack but even then an EMP device would make no sense.

    • A counter nuclear attack means that we would have competent leadership. I think our gonad-free president would cop out and hide in a bunker instead of being a real man. His staff and most of congress would already be somewhere relatively safe (if safety could be found on a golf course–they might have to carry their own clubs).
      Or we would find out that we really do not have the capability since he also denuded/destroyed our military and its weapons.
      I do not see much leadership in DC.
      Can you tell I am angry?

      • I was thinking of a new moniker for tdl.I came up with a couple. President hip hop. Also the man behind the green curtian.

      • Competent leadership, I’m sure that there is someone in the sweet spot of needing to be good at the job more than being good at PR, and they’ll have the wisdom to say, “I’m going to pretend that you told me to do what I need to do, you’ll be smart to back me up when this is over.:

      • Betsy: >>they might have to carry their own clubs<<

        Wouldn't golf clubs act like antennae? Maybe they'd all get their chips fried 🙂

      • Betsey,
        TDL and his minions will not be here forever and as far as I know he has not gotten rid of the subs, which are always the wild card if attacked by a state actor. We can and would retaliate, of that I am sure.

    • Gone With The Wind— I’m glad no one ever does anything stupid in your world. Bet you don’t even have to buy car insurance since it would be too stupid for some Bozo to drive drunk or speed or be distracted by a cell phone, MP3 or whatever!!! Crap Happens. A prepper;s wet dream is to die of old age and have his or her grand kids wonder what to do with all Gramp’s junk. That would be wonderful! However, we don,t live in a makebelieve world. There are “nuts” out there. Prepping is the recognition of that fact and our only “insurance” to help us and our families cope when luck is not with us.

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        Aunt B you have a bee in your bonnet. The most likely big attack for us to worry about would be either a terrorist use of a nuke they acquire somehow or a major nuclear attack by Russia or China. I think the first is likely and probably inevitable. Sooner or later a terrorist group will get a nuke and of course they will use it. The second option of a full on nuclear attack is probably less likely but impossible to either predict long term or to estimate the odds of it happening. The best thing to do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best. In my opinion a EMT is not the worst but it is a very limited and discrete event that is “easy” to prepare for so that is why it is so popular to discuss on prepper blogs.

        • GWTW – Aunt B has the same right to be here asking questions and getting answers as you do…quit with the personal attacks!

          • GoneWithTheWind says:

            Wow! So you think that was a personal attack!! I was very polite in my response. I suppose you will consider that even responding to you is hate mail. Get some professional help with your anger issues.

      • Aunt B,
        Although I agree that my preppers dream is to die of old age; having been involved in this community for 40+ years, I have run into more than my share of those who exactly fit GWTW’s assessment.

    • MorePooperThanPrepper says:

      I think I agree with most of what you said GWTW. The disasters that make a good story get talked about a lot. But when I used to bring up car accidents or home fires as the most likely disaster someone will go through I was often called a sheep, etc.

      I also agree that no nation would ever consider EMPing the US. But a non-state actor may have some reason to try. CMEs might be more likely, but either one to my mind is about a 1 in 500 chance of happening in my lifetime. Possible yes, but not something I’ll specifically spend my hard earned money on.

      • MorePooperThanPrepper,
        I think the chance that a non-state actor, could acquire a large enough weapon, miniaturized to fit a launch vehicle, and launch it into a position above the continent to cause the damage, without being intercepted and dealt with ahead of time, is a VERY low probability.
        Any state actor with the capability would be suicidal.

        • MorePooperThanPrepper says:

          The estimate of about 1:500 chance was the probability of either an EMP attack or a CME that would effect the US in the next 40 years or so.

          Do you think I am far off the mark? I realize that we are both jousting windmills here, but I respect and am curious about your opinion.

    • Well, I guess some people are just plain stupid. Let’s say… 25% of the human race. Then, make a ratio of all the nation leaders in the world who have nuclear capacities. That makes 25% of a dozen. Too many for my beauty sleep =P

      How would that help the ennemies of America? Well… Let’s say I own 18 nuclear warheads of 1MT each… Okay. Then what? I can nuke 18 cities, not counting suburbs. That leaves 75% of the continent alive and capable of functionning and living over years with what little remains of the power grid. And the army is still functionning.

      Now, “nuke down” the entire power grid, and you’ll have 90% of all Americans (and Canadians…) dead in a winter. And the continental part of the army topped off and without any working material. That’s not a bad ratio, for a “stupid” country leader…

      Not that stupid if they can count up to 90%. See my point?

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        It is a myth that the power grid can be easily destroyed with EMP devices. First of all the power of the EMP pulse drops of so dramatically that it can’t be done with one or three or ten EMP devices. It would take at a minimum 24 EMP devices set off in a specific grid pattern over the continental U.S. Secondly even an ideal EMP attack would probably at best disable 75% of the grid and that figure could be far less. Third an EMP tends to be a line of site device and if some part of the grid is in a valley, behind a mountain or even a building or simply dhaded by anything that would absorb or reflect the pulse it won’t be harmed. And last, the only part of the grid that would fail in an EMP attack is the weak points, like fuses, breakers and poor connections. The transformers, distribution lines and generators would likely remain intact. It is probable that after an EMP event that power could be restored to critical users within a few days to weeks and to the majority of urban centers within weeks to months. It’s not as catastrophic as the adherents of the theory claim it to be.

        • GWW,
          Almost entirely wrong.
          The direct line of site exposure is extended by any conductor. Rail and transmission lines being two.
          The 300 or so very large primary transformers in the US/Canadian grid would be the first casualties as the various protective devices are not fast enough to handle an EMP. These transformers are Chinese made and take 2-3 years from the order date to installation. We have no backups available at the present time. One very large device over Kansas or more likely 3 smaller ones detonated off the 3 coasts would disable the grid for a longer period of time than the majority of people in North America could live without it.

          • GoneWithTheWind says:

            Any transmission line will pick up the EMP and the first circuit breaker will stop it.
            The very large and specialized transformers at the power stations are indeed unique and some are indeed made in China, not all of them. They are unlikely to be harmed since they are protected by circuit breakers and extremely robust in their manufacture. Most transformers are not complex and are indeed made in the USA and can be repaired in the USA and they are also protected by circuit breakers and extremely robust in their design.

            • GoneWithTheWind,
              I don’t think the circuit breakers operate fast enough to trip and isolate the induced voltage, which has a faster rise time than lightning; however, I agree that most transformers would be mostly unaffected.

              • GoneWithTheWind says:

                The circuit breakers, fuses, many/most wire to wire connections connections and wire to transformer connections, and more… Are weak points in the system. Not all intentionally, much the same way that a knot in a rope weakens it. But the knot is essential in the use of a rope. But when the rope become overloaded it will likely break at the knot. So to the grid has thousands of these weak links that when faced with massive current will break first. The speed/slowness which a breaker or fuse or weak link breaks will absolutely affect delicate equipment connected to the grid. So your radio, TV or computer may well be kaput but the transfomer is not delicate in fact they are quite stout and would take a considerable jolt of current before they would overheat or have an open circuit. Most of the components of the grid are over built and will still be servicable after an EMP or CME that would actually take down most of the grid. It would then be a simple process to find and repair/replace all the weak links that failed. However if a transformer were to “blow” they can be fixed. As I said they are quite stout inside, they aren’t windings of “wires” as we think of transformers we use in household products. They are copper bands as thick or thicker then a penny and as wide as 2″. Most transformers used on the grid could be taken apart in situ and repaired easily. Contrary to what has been said about all transformers used at generation facilities being very complex and made in China, most of these very large transformers were installed when the power plant was built and are still in use. For example the transformers at Boulder Dam were made in 1932 and are still in use. They weren’t made in China. Where this story got it’s legs was a few ver new and very large power plants were built using these massive multi-stage transformers and some of them were built in China. These transformers are indeed very complex by comparison with most transformers on the grid and if they were damaged it is indeed likely they couldn’t be repaired or replaced (with identical versions) easily. However they could be replaced by standard transformers in use at most generation facilities.

      • 1 MT? Aint going to get the job done. Try 20MT as a starter.

      • Seamus Finn,
        That is why the U.S. has a nuclear powered submarine fleet capable of a retaliatory strikes even weeks after an event. A state actor would not survive the retaliation, a non-state actor is not likely to be able to position their device high above the continent.

    • GoneWithTheWind,

    • Twelve years and two days ago no one thought the threat of people flying airliners into both the World Trade Center towers and causing them to collapse on themselves was believable either. Just saying.

  14. Here where I live in a city of 1.8M there were water shortages several years ago and water tanks for gardening were subsidized and many fitted to homes. Soon after flouride was added to the water and I began to drink the tankwater instead. My tank is 5000L but to supply drinking water a small 1000L tank would be more than enough for one person for a year or 2.

    I say this because city dweller anywhere can easily add a small water tank to a downpipe and have an emergency supply available. If the dry season is upon you you could fill it with tap water for now. It comes of a metal roof and I dont use any chemicals or filters, I simply fill a 20L plastic food grade barrel with tap and carry this to the kitchen counter. I might add that I have a few dozen silver coins in the bottom of the barrel for bacterial control.

    • Franko
      One problem with the roof system is the type of material you have covering your home. If it is Terracotta tile, metal sheeting are great for water capture, if you have composition roofing your water is fine for fire protection(oil in the shingles), and if push came to shove it could possible be made into potable water. You would need a lot of cleaning materials(sand, charcoal, food grade DE). Then there is no guarantee it will do the job.

  15. charlie (NC) says:

    I’ve read it somewhere before or at least something coincidentally similar to it and I don’t believe in coincidence. I don’t remember where.

  16. Anyone have a link to where I can buy a good battery to power my Faraday Cage?

    • We (OhioPrepper and I) have debated this.

      It is not NECESSARY to power your cage. A friend of mine (a student in college) suggested that it might “cancel” the compton effect to have the cage powered and not grounded (if I remember well), but any conductive-metal casing with holes smaller than the wavelenght of the pulse would do the job.

  17. Worthwhile write-up and personally I see EMP as about the scariest futuristic scenerio.
    But the dating of how old vehicles have to be to have survived is in error.
    Electronics in US vehicles started in the late 60’s (transistorized ignitions/distributors without points), and electronics were across the board in all cars by 1975, when the first major emission requirements went into effect.
    So to have confidence you have a vehicle, that won’t be affected, you want one older than 1970, not 1990 (there are a few 1971-72 vehicle models without electronics — like my ’71 Jeep CJ-5 — the key is to look for one that still uses points/condensor in the distributor).
    The radios in vehicles became “transistorized” in the late 50’s, so unless the vehicle is older than (say) 1957, the EMP will wipe out the dash radio.
    (this from a retired auto engineer that spent 35+ years with one of the “Detroit 3”)

  18. I think that an EMP would most devastating in its emotional impact. The panic that would ensure will do the most harm. What will we do when “Hell On Wheels” doesn’t come on. Perish the thought. If I can’t watch my Bronco game on Sunday, I’m calling my Senator!

  19. What BS. Battery powered Faraday cages???? Where did this fool get this info? Most cars will run post EMP, you just need to reset their computers by disconnecting the battery for a few minutes.
    The rest is BS as well.

    • Exactly, a powered Faraday cage – BS
      Faraday cages are nothing more than a metal box. Wrap a radio in saran wrap, then tinfoil and presto a Faraday cage. A steel garbage can lined with a plastic bag and some steel wool around the lid/can junction is even better as it’s tougher. No radio signal will go through solid metal, but rather travels along the skin.
      If you note that radio receiving dishes are often made of mesh at chicken wire sized openings, Even a fine metal screen will work for longer EPM wavelengths and attenuate the pulse – which may be enough.

      • Read comment poster earlier :

        At the moment this article was written, I had never discussed this issue with anyone but one friend of mine, who suggested it might work better so. Since then, OhioPrepper has done a great job explaining me how such things work. And he has done so in a much more polite way =)

        Since then, I have also read the “Report of the commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack”

        As it turns out, most cars would indeed require only a “reboot”. Every car that was turned off at the moment of the test responded perfectly after. Most of the cars that were turned on, however, experiences mild to severe malfunctions. That could have caused an accident, providing that a given car/truck would be running at 60 mph at the moment of an EMP attack. Even though it seems that those machines would keep running, the impact on the transportation infrastructure would be immense.

        The main threat of an EMP is electric power outage. That is major.

        Still, nobody really had a chance to “test” a real EMP attack, and the Carrington Incident was a long, long time ago. Since it’s better be safe than sorry, the point of this article is, now, to outline the main effects of a Nuclear EMP AND the risk of several side effects that would have been… unplaned.

        Don’t take this article for cash, I am in NO way an expert. I just wanted to make sure more people knew that this ain’t no sci-fi scenario, but a real-life threat to our society.

        I’m sorry if you did not like the article.

        Seamus Finn

  20. 1. Not all items will be damaged. In fact many small electronic items that are NOT connected to mains power will be unaffected. It has to do with the cross sectional density of the internal traces on the circuit board. Small items will not collect enough energy to damage the onboard components. Therefore, your cell phone may still work, but the cell sites will be non-functional, making the phone relatively useless.
    2. What is the use of the internal power supply? The physics only dictates that all openings be smaller than the wavelength of the highest delivered frequency. I often see the integral power supply mentioned, but no one has ever explained what it’s for, what it does, or how it’s connected. There is simply no conceivable need for it as I understand the physics, and I have worked in some large commercial Faraday enclosures, none of which had a supply. I agree that it should NOT be grounded.
    3. Who is likely to be the actor that detonates such a device, knowing that retaliation would be swift and deadly. The actors that might be stupid enough to attempt such a thing currently do not have the technology. I’m thinking here about North Korea and Iran. Being able to build a nuclear device is one thing. Miniaturizing it to place on a missile is yet another thing. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but it is not on the top of my list.
    As for newer cars stopping, there have been some tests that show that many would not be affected at all, and many that are, simply stop and need to be restarted.
    You mention that battery again. Could you please explain it?

    The main issue with an EMP would be a grid down situation across the continent, and destruction of anything connected to the grid at the time of the event.

    • It’s the same article than last time, OhioPrepper (I just can’t use OP to name you, since it would also refer to myself, as Original Poster =P) and we’ve debated this.

      You are right about everything here, maybe but the battery, but as I once told you, I cannot explain it. A friend of mine, a student in physics, once told me he thought that an internal power supply may give the cage an additionnal chance agaionst a nuclear EMP (not against a CME though, doesn’t change anything for that…) and tried to explain it to me with his Cap’n Kirk mumbo-jumbo.

      I say “try” here because I didn’t get a thing. I’m such a horse, when it comes to physics, chemistry and maths, that just trying to get those informations that could safe my life in my brains was a complete waste of time.

      I recall he mentioned something about “the Earth’s geomagnetic field repositioning itself” and that’s it.


      For the cars, read my previous post. Since then (our last conversation about EMPs), someone has been nice enough to give me a PDF copy of the “Report of the commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack”

      Right. Most cars would keep running, I guess. Once again, I wish we could be 100% sure about it, but there’s only one way how and I don’t think it’s going to be feasible… On the other hand, it could cripple the transportation infrastructure by causing, first, traffic jams, and then, accidents that could cause more jams.

      I have yet to read the potential effect on long-haul railroads. I wish I had more time.

      Ya’have a good day.

  21. Ok, I am not sure why people KEEP posting on this subject. EMP’s will effect things like cell phones, cars, GPS and the like. So why then do you expect to hide all that stuff from an EMP? First of all your cell device WILL be useless Why you ask?? Cuz there wont be any CELL service, even if you had a cell device that works (cuz you ridiculously thought that a Farady box would help) You WILL only have a iphone5 paper weight,. Please people WAKE UP! prepare for the basic needs.Even if you had a cell phone WHO would you call? I am involved with a Fire dept. You would not believe what local county’s prepare for..Not cell phone in a faraday box.. They prepare for things like mass ilness’s moving people who are sick and bedridden- BASIC care.Ever thought what a hospital would do? or a Police Dept would do? aparently not.
    I always get a laugh out of all you so-called preppers who think you got it down..

    • Well, HAM radios can transmit halfway around the world. Since an EMP is a line-of-sight event, it could be the only way to receive news or to communicate with the outside world.

      Blood-pressure monitors are very useful widgets that can be used for just about any diagnostic.

      Handheld CB-radios can be used to communicate while on patrol or with neighbors (specially if they live a mile away).

      A pocket calculator could prove very useful too.

      An e-book reader, providing you planned a way to recharge it, is a good way to keep several survival books and magasines without loosing storage room.

      GPS systems will keep working if the satellites that control them are far enough of the explosion.

      And that is only a safety mesure. Most probably, those devices would be unaffected by an EMP, but since there is only one way to know for sure, it’s only wise to build your own Faraday cage to protect your electronics.

      If you laugh so much at “so-called preppers”l what in the world are you doing here? An EMP attack is a very serious threat to our future, and while the chances it would happen a very, very low, the dramatic effects it would have on our society REQUIRE that some of us prepare to face this.

      I do not own a HAM radio, a CB, a Blood-pressure-monitor or a GPS. Hell, I don’t even own a car. So why in the world would I own a Faraday cage? Certainly not to protect my Iphone and my laptop computer. Ultimately, I don’t care about those. What I want to protect is my family and my prepping circle, and if that requires me to build a goddamn Faraday cage, then I will.

      We do not CARE what the Fire dept or the Police dept or the Army or the FEMA or the frigging SANTA CLAUS will do in a disaster situation. Being a prepper means not having to rely on the governement to take care of ourselves. Why do you now write an article, now, if you think what you have to say is so important that everything WE say is laughing stock.

  22. Seamus Finn,
    I am so sorry for the awful behavior displayed here. Attacking someones article like this is never acceptable.
    Looks like the trolls will come out of the woodwork on certain subjects.They have poor manners at the table.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on EMP’s.
    I have worked hard to study EMP’s ,CME’s and proof my belongings. I have even bought pre programmed computer chips for my diesel truck.
    If my “wet dreams” don’t come true, I guess the joke is on me.That is fine. I have slept better every night knowing that I have them. Some people may never fire at another human being but rest easier knowing the have the weapons.
    I am with Aunt B. I would like to pass silently in my bed and giggle to myself about what my kids are going to do with all my “junk”/

    • Thank you. =)

      You will notice this “john” (without a capital J) didn’t answer.

      Well, I will be laughing my back off when the poop hits the fan and people such as this will be running around like topped-off chickens.

      And I also sleep better at night now that I am more prepared.

  23. I’ve lived in TN (Clarksville/Dover area) since 2004 and will retire here once Uncle Sam paroles me after my 20 year sentence is up, lol. I have a question concerning the article I read on here about the Cumberland plateau being Skousens #1 pick for a retreat/relocation spot, however with that, wouldn’t/isn’t there concern for a potential nuclear event there and with Y12 as well? There are two reactors in close proximity to Skousens preferred location of the southern part of the Plateau (Rhea Co & ???), not to mention Browns Ferry across the line in Bama.. When you combine that with the typical SW to NE prevailing wind then from the TN/AL Border all through the CP and East TN is gonna get a fair amount of the fallout. I thought this question would go well here considering the topic and considering the broad level of expertise and knowledge ion this site, which I value and respect to the fullest. I retire in 4 years and it’s time (past time) for me to get the post in the ground.

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  25. Pokemon Champion Josiah says:


  26. Pokemon Master Josiah says:

    I can survive! in hawaii !

  27. Why need a running vehicle, unless you stockpile gas. No power no gas pumps working, unless your going to try stealing it from other vehicles, dont try mine or you wont be around long. Get the picture. Prep and bunker down my suggestion.

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