An electromagnetic pulse (EMP), also sometimes called a transient electromagnetic disturbance, is a short burst of electromagnetic energy. These can be caused by natural or man-made events. It’s important to know the difference, since the results would be different and, therefore, survival considerations different as well.
Examples of natural EMP and CME
- Lightning electromagnetic pulse (LEMP)
- This would only be confined to the area of the strike. Other than a direct hit this would not normally present a threat to a preppers electronics.
- Electrostatic discharge (ESD)
- An ESD is a result of two charged objects coming into close proximity or even contact. This is static electricity.
- Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), sometimes called CMP
- This is an energy burst released by a solar storm on the surface of the sun. hey occur frequently, although the majority misses the earth. However, the strength of them varies greatly and we have not been hit with a really strong one since the Carrington Event in 1859. Depending on its strength, a CME may or may not fry electronics.
Examples of manmade EMP that would affect us
- Nuclear electromagnetic pulse (NEMP)
- This would be the result of a nuclear explosion. One variant of this is the high altitude nuclear EMP (HEMP). A one megaton nuclear explosion detonated 300 hundred miles above the center of the United States would take out the power grid in every state but Hawaii and Alaska.
- Non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse (NNEMP) weapons
- These types of weapons are being developed by our government and others.
The big issue with both CME and EMP is these events may destroy the large power transformers in the power grid. This would render the grid useless. We don’t make nor store these large transformers here in the United States. Replacing them after an EMP/CME event would take a huge effort by the remainder of the world, including China. Some studies published by the US Government suggest that in the worst case event up to 90% of the population would be dead in one year.
One Second After by William Forstchen and Going Home by A. American are excellent, fictional depictions of life following an EMP. If you haven’t read one or both, they are recommended reading — probably should be required reading by Americans.
Here are some articles that may help you prepare for EMP and CME:
- More on EMP Protection
- What is EMP (Electromagnetic pulse)
- LEDs and Faraday Cages
- Protecting Electronics with Faraday Cages
- More on Electromagnetic Pulse
Now I have attempted to find the best information on EMP and CME, and have found that few experts really agree on the effects. I think that the only ones who actually have a good idea of what could happen is the US military and they are not saying. So my suggestion is to protect your electronics as well as you can, but be prepared to function without them for some time.