Prepare for a large-scale nuclear EMP attack over North-America

This is a guest post by “Seamus Finn” and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

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

emp optimal 300x242 Prepare for a large scale nuclear EMP attack over North AmericaSome 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.

This is an entry in our nonfiction writing contest – This contest will end on June 29 2013  – prizes include:

Comments

  1. Lantana says:

    Seamus, your warm and poetic welcome has me torn as to what to do first–read the article, or book a trip to Quebec. Thanks for starting things off with a smile today!

  2. Bonjour Seamus! Excellent article.

    One thing I can add is that once you know for sure all your electrics have stopped working due to an emp, stopper up your tub and every sink in the house and fill it up with water (if you are in a place supplied by municipal water supply).

    The pumps and diesel backups may not work but there will still be residual water pressure on the system – lots of there is a water tower in your water zone. That pressure will bleed off quickly as people open their taps or there might be industrial valves or hydrants left open so best get to it quick.

    • That is, indeed, something very important to do in many SHTF scenarios.

      For example, we’ve had a bit of flooding this spring, which basicaly never happens in my city. First thing I did, since I was working, was to call home to make sure my DW and my baby girl were okay, then ask Marie to fill the bathtub, in case the water supply would be contaminated by sanitary sewers.

      • Seamus Finn,
        To fill your tub with potable water and to keep it potable and from leaking out of the drain over time, I would recommend a Water BOB. The Bathtub Oblong Bladder holds about 100 gallons and keeps it drinkable.

        • Yes, I’ve seen it on you know which NaGeo series.

          Seems to work, but I wonder how resistant to friction the material may be.

          Do not worry about the water being potable though, I’ve got a pretty good filter, a lot of unscented bleach and water pills.

          • Shamus,
            I’m not sure about it’s resistance to friction, or why it would need to be. Once in the tub and filled, it weighs about 800 pounds (about 360 Kg) so it’s probably not moving anywhere. They are inexpensive, running about $20 US which with the exchange rate now nearly equil, about the same in Canada.

  3. There are many scenarios that could plunge us into darkness and chaos but I think emp or cme are the two with the highest probability. This is what I’ve tried to tailor my preparedness efforts towards. Thanks for taking the time to get people to think about this.

    • worrisome says:

      BC, how is your wife doing this morning? Hope all is well and that you are getting rest there beside her.

      As resourceful as you are………..did you or have you thought about doing a utube on faraday cages?

      I can see EMP but I can also see someone managing this by merely hacking into our grid and electronically blowing it up…

      • Thanks for asking,worrisome. She is still in Icu and I’m still in the Icu waiting room waiting for my 20 minutes,4 times a day to hold her hand and smooth her hair. Won’t know if they got all the cancer for a couple days yet.

        • Will pray for the best outcome, you make sure to take care of the caregiver also..That means You…

          • Doris Jones says:

            Bctruck,
            We will keep both of you in our prayers and thoughts.
            Having you there (even for the few minutes) is probably more healing and helpful than you can realize. Having gone thru this with my husband 3 years ago, I can really identify with you. I hope your situation turns out as positively as ours did. It is a hard time and do take care of YOU.

        • Cheyenne says:

          Praying for your wife that all the cancer is gone!!!

  4. Lantana says:

    Seamus, what do the colors on the chart represent?

    • Excellent question.

      It’s a color scale, ranging from white (no effect) to purple (maximum effect), depicting the effects of an atmospheric EMP burst. I’ve somehow managed to lose the unit scale while editing the picture, but I can describe the effet by memory.

      The light-blue to pale-blue area would be rather unaffected by the burst, it’s the “ground zero”, or as I like to say, “sky-zero”, comparable to the eye of an hurricane.

      The orange circle is the radius of a 25 000 “forgot-the-unit-name” effect, which is, basically, total disruption of electric power.

      The red “U” and the smaller, dark-red band, below the blue “sky-zero”, whould be the area most affected. As you can (or cannot) see, it reaches from Thunder Bay (Canada), to Hâvre-Saint-Pierre (Canada), encompassing the major cities of : Montréal, Ottawa, Albany, Boston, Providence, New-York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Charleston, Toronto, Chicago and Detroit.

      The orange circle reaches as far as Winnipeg, Des Moines, Raleigh, Halifax and Kuujjuak. Impressive range for a single burst, isn’t it?

      As most of you, Americans, know, most nuclear plants on the eastern seaboard are located within the orange-red area, which is another hazard caused by an EMP.

      • Lantana says:

        Thanks for elaborating, Seamus. I’d thought the electro-magnetic effect would be like the radiation effect from a regular nuclear blast–maximum devastation at ground zero, decreasing the further out you go.

        So, in an EMP situation, is radiation an issue?

        • Technically, no. The radiation waves occuring after a nuke are very limited in range, so a blast at a few hundred kilometers high wouldn’t irradiate us. Same for the fallouts. There would be none.

          Most people would not even notice there actually was a nuclear blast, if it wasn’t for the grid going down.

  5. JP in MT says:

    EMP is always in the back of my mind for prepping, because it would bring the system to a stop the quickest. Certain things can be done to mitigate the immediate effects. Many of the “must have” items in our daily lives we will find we can do without. Won’t be easy, but it will work.

    I look at 1850-1870 as a place to start looking at what life would be like. Although we would be going back to that era of technology rather than forward into it. We won’t go “stone age” but for those addicted to tech, it will seem that way.

  6. Nice article. But it’s unlikely to be a 1MT warhead that is used. Anything over 500kTs usually implies a fusion bomb which requires a fision bomb to set off the larger explosion. When the small triggering fision device explodes, it “saturates” the environment for the Compton cascade that causes EMP and little further pulse is generated by the large fusion explosion.

    For that reason, the optimum EMP device seems to be a fision bomb of around 400-500kTs and detonated at an altitude of 250-300 miles. From that height, centered over the US, the EMP would cover most of the continent, including coast to coast in the US.

    [see my write-up at http://optimizesurvival.com/electro-magnetic-pulse/

  7. What part of Quebec are you from, judging be your English I’d guess Montreal. I’m from the Gaspe peninsula!

  8. Rob in Ontario says:

    I agree Seamus and EMP or as scienstiest say a CME is as high as 12% chance of happening ithin the next 30 years. here in eastern Canada we don’t have to look hard for water like our southern friends still a hand pump on a well is a good move. And to a working car or truck I drive older chev trucks have put away some the few electroic parts it has

    • Rob in Ontario,
      You stated in part, “EMP or as scienstiest say a CME “.
      EMP and CME are two totally unrelated different things, which MAY have similar effects on the grid.

  9. You can download an 18 page guide, written by an electrical engineer, on how to protect electronic equipment from EMP attacks and severe solar storms at http://www.futurescience.com/emp/emp-protection.html.
    I have already taken the steps he recommends to protect my small portable radios, solar lantern, solar flashlight and LED headlamp, but have not yet gotten around to protecting the spare batteries the way he recommends.

  10. US EMPs US – Starfish Prime
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starfish_Prime#Explosion

    Starfish Prime was a high-altitude nuclear test conducted by the United States of America on July 9, 1962 …..

    • Yep: My DW was here, a little girl with her parents and brothers. Her father’s job was based in CA, but Hawaii was part of his territory so he spent summers here and brought the whole family.

      She remembers her parents getting all the kids out of bed and going up on the hotel roof in Waikiki to watch it. She remembers the flash, but at age 9 her recollection is largely confined to “Oh WOW!” No recollection of the problems it caused, but she was just a kid.

      Let’s hope none of our kids have an “Oh WOW!” moment!

  11. waterboy says:

    Great article Seamus. Could you expand a little on the dc battery in the cage. I built a faraday cage, but I just store my items in it for protection in case of emp. Thanks.

    • Well it’s quite simple when you come to think of it.

      An EMP has two or more phases of Compton effect. The very first would hit the Earth at relativistic speed and would last a few nanoseconds. Your Faraday cage would protect it’s content during this very only wave.

      The second one, however, would last several seconds. It would be the Earth EM field repositioning itself. Although not as strong or intense as the first one, it would probably be quite sufficient to destroy the grid too.

      If your battery is outside of the cage, it might go down after the first blast, leaving your gear unprotected to face the second. Depending on the way it’s made of course.

      By placing your power supply inside of the Faraday cage, it is also protecting itself, making the cage more durable.

      Once again, this is stricly theorical. I have no way of proving it, since I cannot test it, but it is basic science.

      Then for the DC part.

      As you might know, every “natural” power is DC. The current that goes out of a battery is DC too. If your power is AC, which alternates it’s direction at relativistic speed, I do not think that it would be “stable” enough to shield the Faraday cage, since the wave also moves at the same speed. Once again, I wish I could experiment on the matter.

      That would make my life much less stressful. =P

      • waterboy says:

        Thanks again. I was confused in thinking that perhaps the cage needed to be connected to the dc power source.

      • Seamus Finn,
        You imply that a Faraday enclosure needs to be somehow connected to a power source for protection. I’ve used commercial enclosures for decades and that is simply not a requirement. The construction and operation of a Faraday cage is simple physics.

  12. Wally Bullwinkle says:

    If you have an older car, you need to stock up on a spare or two for the points, condenser, coil, probably fueses, spark plug wires, spark plugs and rotor.
    That way you will have all bets covered. Also, you could make a Faraday Cage for your car. That would keep things safe.

    • Wally Bullwinkle,
      A Faraday cage for your car would be quite a task, and a maintenance nightmare.

    • Diodes and brushes for the alternator and a voltage regulator might also be handy.

      • Azyogi,
        Indeed; but, these are probably a good thing to keep as a spare in any case. As for EMP, the alternator and brushes are probably OK, with the possible exception of the diodes. For the voltage regulator, if its one of the old vibrator types its probably safe, but a modern solid state one would need protection.

  13. why do you need a battery for the faraday cage? Everything I read does not mention that you need a power supply for a faraday shield

    • You do not NEED one. The battery acts as a backup EM field generator.

      If the cage is grounded, there is no proof that the second wave of the Compton effect would be stopped by the shielding. However, having your Faraday cage “backed-up” might make the difference.

      If the cage is not grounded (which is easier said than done…) then it is not necessary.

      I’m sorry I should have explained this in my article =)

      • Seamus Finn,
        You stated in part, “If the cage is not grounded (which is easier said than done…) “.
        Say what?
        Isolating an enclosure from ground is very easy to do and is done commercially all of the time. Simply sitting it on a layer of a good insulating material is a good start.

        • Yes, it is exactly the way to insulate it.

          So depending on where you Faraday Cage stands, it might turn into a nightmare =)

          • Insulating should not be any problem, unless you’re building a huge faraday cage, in which case you need to build in the insulating base from the start of construction.

  14. This is something I have actual nightmares about. Maybe I shouldnt read books such as one second after before bed lol. But I do think about it a lot.
    I do wonder though, would there be pockets of places less effected. If maybe certain mountainous areas would help sheild from the pulse? How about cars parked in one of those underground parking garages? Or a house made out of concrete with rebar (or whatever that stuff is they use to ‘stabalize’ concrete buildings. I am so not a builder, can you tell? Lol)?
    I know the power would still go out, and I know that things plugged in will for sure be shot, and high tech equipment will be goners. But things like flashlights too?

    I know there was a test done, someone posted a link above, but do we really know what would happen? I know that test was years ago, I did try to muddle thru it when I first found out what an emp was. But has anyone done any tests since then, especially with the new high tech stuff that wasnt out in the 60’s.

    • TG,
      “One Second After” takes a lot of liberties with the physics.

      • OP, oh, I am sure the book does. It is a formnof entertainment is it not? I was just saying that reading it before bed, for me, is asking for nightmares.

        I dont pretend to understand to understand them. I know it will pulse out like a shock wave. I know from everything I have read that many scientist say it will bring down our electric grid. I know that if the electric goes, pretty much anything attached to it will go.

        My question is how it would fry electronics that are turned off and not plugged in? I think I understand the ones being used, but everything? That is what I have a hard time understanding.

        And then my questions above? I have read it is a line of sight thing. So would there be pockets of areas less effected? Would there be certain types of buildings or infrastructure that protect from the emp effect?

        When I think of an emp, these are the type of questions that circle around my brain. I know that having a house full of electronics that didnt get fried isnt going to make a difference if the power is out, just curiosity on my part.

        • There are three waves in an EMP:
          E1 is very short and spans nearly the entire frequency range
          E2 lasts for less than 1 second and can induce surges similar to lightening strikes
          E3 can last for several minutes, is low frequency and long wavelength (like solar flares)

          Each of these electro-magnetic waves will induce electrical current in the right kind of materials that can act as an antenna for the frequency of the wave.

          E1 with a wide range of frequency, can induce currents in almost any circuit or chip. A small current in these delicate circuits can burn them out, even without being connected to anything or when they are powered down.

          E2 might be stopped by good surge protectors… except that E1 is probably going to burn out the surge protectors leaving stuff vulnerable to the E2 surges.

          E3 will only interact with very long antennas, but that means long lines and pieces of metal and this wave is the one that can take down the electric power grid by burning out large transformers that are not easily replaced.

          A solar flare can take down the grid with an E3 wave but won’t damage everything else. A nuclear EMP takes out so many pieces that it will be very difficult to repair anything afterward. We’ll have to rebuild our manufacturing, and transportation infrastructure before we can begin to fix things like water and food supply.

          http://optimizesurvival.com/electro-magnetic-pulse/

        • TG,
          Perhaps you shouldn’t read horror stories before bedtime, LOL.

          If you think of the EMP as a powerful radio signal, then the longer you make the antenna (within reason), the stronger the signal will be. In the case of the power grid, the wires running around the country from pole to pole, or tower to tower, or even buried, are all part of a huge antenna system, which will pick up that radio signal, and produce very high voltages across the system. Any electrically powered device that is plugged into the system, via the wall outlet, will get to share that large voltage, and potentially be damaged.

          There is a high probability that electronics that are not plugged in may suffer no effects, because the small circuit paths in them represents a very small antenna, and may not induce enough power to cause damage. One thing you can do to help, is to remove any antennas the devices have connected to them, like the line cord. If the line cord is removable, or there are any other long cords that can be disconnected and stored separately, then removing these antennas can add further protection. As for working electronics in a grid down situation. Things like handheld radios, both receivers and transmitters like walkie talkies could still be useful, along with flashlights and perhaps some other small utilitarian items.

          It is a line of sight thing, and there may be some shielding effect from terrain, but probably not much. As for buildings protecting the contents, all metal buildings may offer some protection, but unless completely sealed like a faraday enclosure, will allow some of the signal to penetrate; however, probably at a reduced level.

          This is the best information I have based on my knowledge of the physics involved; but, since we have no really good tests, it is all best guess (or calculation) theoretical information.

  15. There is a pretty new book out about EMF and CME called A Nation Forsaken by Michael Maloof . Its filled with facts about it.

    Here is a link to the book.
    You might have to download a viewer/reader to open it.

    http://www.4shared.com/office/6i2in-jT/nation_forsaken_a_-_f_michael_.html

  16. Seamus,
    My responses to your three questions above:
    1. Most small unprotected devices will most likely not be affected; however, if the cell phone still powers up, there will most likely be no cell network running in which to operate it. In order for EMP to have an effect on a device, there must be sufficient length of conductors in the device to act as an antenna and build up a voltage sufficient for damage. In some ways, the shrinking of the technology can make it more vulnerable; but, that same shrinking makes its radio absorption cross-section (the length of wiring in the device) smaller, therefore making it less vulnerable.
    2. Power supply for a Faraday cage? No grounding is required, nor is there a need for a power supply
    3. More likely than I would hope for. Most state actors would know that we would toast them, and state actors helping non-state actors would also be at risk. That being said, with the current wimpy administration I do not think they would respond until it’s too late, or perhaps not at all.

    • Well I sure wish this is all true.

      Do you have a source so I can check it out myself? I’ve tried to find old reports of experiments, but as one can guess, it’s pretty hard to come by.

      For the powering part, I’ve asked a friend who studied physics quite a bit. He told me that, while the battery power isn’t necessary, it would be a good addition to a full cage, considering the rather randomness of the Compton effect. IF the cage is grounded. If it is not (which I recommand), then it is unecessary.

      Actually, the question I asked him was rather accurately : How can I be certain that my Faraday cage will work in a Nuclear EMP.

      He came up with the DC-power advice, which I found quite convincing, as you might have noticed.

      On another note, I’ve seen several YouTube feeds about homemade Faraday cages. I’ve seen .50 ammo boxes, aluminum trash bins and dead refrigirators as advices to serious preppers…

      Only one of those I saw, though, simply put a cheap AM/FM radio in his “cage” and it still worked.

      I don’t know the wavelenght of the first and subsequent waves of an EMP, but I’m pretty sure it’s much shorter than FM radio waves.

      Got any advice about this?

      • Seamus,
        The only unclassified experiment I know of is the Starfish Prime event that has already been mentioned.
        I agree that the case should not be grounded; however, I still don’t see the need for the battery. If there is a need, how and where is the battery connected.
        As for being certain, it’s pretty much impossible, since there is no empirical way to test. The main thing you can do is to make the enclosure out of a continuous metal cover and do your best to make sure there are no openings of any size. I once worked on a room sized (10 x 10 x 8 feet) enclosure that was completely covered in copper foil, but would allow a signal in from the outside using a rather powerful sweeping signal generator and a sensitive spectrum analyzer inside. The leak turned out to be a several inch area where the foil overlapped, but had not been sealed properly with solder. A bit of silver solder and some heat fixed the problem that had taken 3 engineers nearly a week (off and on) to find. You do your best and that is all you can do.
        The length (in time) of the E1 component is approximately 5 nanoseconds, which approximates a square wave and can contain many wavelengths simultaneously. This is why there is uncertainty on the effects on small devices, and why a properly built enclosure should be made of solid metal foil or sheet, and not mesh.
        An article that I find quite enlightening on this subject can be found at: http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1549/2

        • I’m glad to read that.

          This settles the case of the mesh cage.

          For the battery, I don’t know, my friend didn’t really take time to explain, and at the moment, I figured I would find this design pretty easily on the Internet. I was damn wrong =P

          • I can see having the battery (batteries) in a cage but not hooked to anything, indeed an insulator covering the terminals might be a good idea. My spare truck battery is stored dry with the acid in a nearby sealed factory container. Batteries hooked up during the Carrington Event (September, 1859) started fires and exploded in telegraph offices.

            • Azyogi,
              Those batteries were hooked the very long antennas that connected the telegraph offices and would have been severely overloaded, so I can see fires there. I don’t think unconnected batteries would have much of a problem; however, with lots of people now using rechargeable batteries, having some extra battery chargers stored away and protected might be a reasonable ting to do.

  17. Lantana says:

    Okay, let me see if I’ve got this straight. . . .

    * a faraday cage should be metal because metal is conductive
    * the metal should not have any gaps large enough for the EMP wave to penetrate
    * the items to be protected should not be in contact with the faraday cage lest the cage conduct the EMP to the items

    So, what if mylar-type bags could be made out of an appropriate conductive metal? Say you wrapped your device in something insulating, sealed it in the mylar-type conductive bag with an oxygen absorber, wrapped that in insulation and put the whole thing in your faraday cage–would the fact that the bag was sealed as to O2 mean it was sealed as to the EMP wave?

    I’m guessing that wouldn’t work in practice because appropriate existing metals would either have to be thicker than a mylar bag, or would be too brittle and prone to cracking when the O2 absorber was activated. . . .

    • For the mylar, I honestly don’t know.

      I wouldn’t put my bet on it, though.

    • Lantana,
      You understand most of this; however, the Mylar bags are not required, nor are the O2 absorbers. Simply placing the item in a box and wrapping it with several continuous overlapping layers of aluminum foil can protect a small item. Be sure not to tear the foil on the corners. If you’re placing items into a larger enclosure, placing them in boxes, or resting on layers of cardboard or other non-conductive materials should do the trick. Keep in mind that although this is all based on sound science, all of this is theoretical, and we do the best we can, and hope it’s enough.

      • Lantana says:

        Hope it’s enough–and pray we never need to find out.

        Thanks OP, Seamus and our other techies for helping me understand these concepts better.

  18. Ok take this advise with a whole shaker of salt. My spare and back up electronics are in a conex. They are individually wrapped in newspaper (insulator) then wrapped in aluminum foil (conductor) then set spaced apart in paper bags on wooden shelves. My BioLite TEG (thermal electric generator) is similarly insulated first the TEG unit wrapped in heavy paper then sealed in aluminum foil. Then insulated in the stove unit packed in the box. The box then sealed in foil placed in a paper bag set on a wooden shelf in the conex. I doubled up on the TEG as it is a multi fuel generator that will charge my backup reader / tablet. Thumb drives backup sd cards are likewise insulated, mylar sealed bags, boxed then foil wrapped, paper bag set on wooden shelf. Same with points condensers, alternator rebuild kit, coil, and starter bended (solenoid)

    • Dang autoincorrector that’s a bendex not a bended (solenoid)

    • Azyogi,
      Again, there are no real good ways to test this without generating an EMP, but your setup sounds as solid as possible, knowing the theoretical physics, and how we should protect things.

  19. Would a simple gasoline engine, such as what would be found on a lawnmower or minibike be affected? Would removing the plug wire help? I ask this because the other day I got talked into buying an old minibike, and I managed to convince myself it might make a possible post-SHTF conveyance for me.

  20. Rick,
    It depends on the engine type. A lot of that style of engine uses a magneto, no battery, and no solid state components to be damaged.. Not sure if removing the plug wire would help, but grounding it to the engine block might, similar to how you shut off those old engines.
    Hope this helps.

  21. Wow, I never though my article would generate so many comments.

    Thanks a lot for your feedbacks, questions and ideas.

    A very special thanks to OhioPrepper too, by the way.

    Again, EMP-proofing your preps is based on pure theories. Very few people in the world can really tell what the heck would happen after such a catastrophe, and most of them won’t talk. So… always back up your preps with true EMP-proof material, such as old tools instead of new ones, transistor radios (I read transistors are much less likely to suffer from EMPs than printed circuits) and all the like and…

    If you build a Faraday cage, which might be your life saver, don’t fool around with the cost. Buy whatever you need to make it perfect, flawless.

    And pray. Pray whatever god you believe in that THIS scenario would never happen. It’s the very worst I can think about.

  22. GoneWithTheWind says:

    It would be incredibly stupid for a soveriegn country to set off a nuke over the U.S. This would undoubtedly result in a large number of nukes in their own backyard. There is simply no logical reason for a nuclear power to use an EMP device in an attack of another nuclear power. It would only piss them off while leaving all their weapons intact and assure a massive retalliation. If a nuclear power like Russia attacks us they will use between 2000 and 4000 nukes in a first strike and follow it up where ever needed. They would not send an EMP device.
    Certainly (and probably likely) a terrorists might get a nuke and try to set it off within the U.S. but that would undoubtedly be a ground blast since they wouldn’t have the rocket capability. More likely it would be a dirty bomb. This is a very real and likely scenario and I have no doubt that terrorists will in the near future acquire a nuke and attack Israel, Europe or the U.S. But it would probably be a low yield device smuggled into the country and not a missile and certainly not an EMP .

  23. TARHEELTWICE says:

    Thanks for a great post. I am considering installing solar panels with backup battery charging capability. I fear, however, they too are susceptible to an EMP though the inverter is technically shielded to some extent. What are your thoughts on the susceptibility of solar panel systems [ie- inverters] to an EMP?

    • Well in my opinion, solar pannels are quite reliable in most TEOTWAWKI scenarios. In the case of an EMP, however, I believe they would fry just like most of our stuff.

      What you could do is to store a few back-up pannels and all the gear needed to make them work (and to maintain them) in a Faraday cage.

      Imagine you have 4 big solar pannels setups, and that they get completely fried after an EMP. The frames are already there, the wiring is ready too. All you need to do is replace them, as well as a few parts in your house, to have at least a bit of power back on. Now, of course, storing as many pannels might take a lot of room…

      So consider buying small ones for vital appliances, such as your water pump, a few 15w light bulbs and maybe a big freezer and a battery charger. Store them in that Faraday cage of yours and in every TEOTWAWKI scenario that would happen, you would have a TERRIFIC barter item or great spare parts OR still have power running after an EMP.

  24. Encourager says:

    Thanks to Seamus for writing such a thought-provoking article and the many who contributed. I actually got a grasp on how an EMP may work (or should I say destroy). Copied out most of this article and many of the comments to my files.

    The Wolf Pack rocks!

  25. Hello-would an EMP render battery-powered safes unable to be opened? Thanks for all of the good info.