While I was in Utah on this last trip, I had a chance to attend the Utah Prepare Conference and Expo put on by Utah State University. They held some great classes and one that I was able to attend was “The Realities, Response, and Recovery From EMP” taught by Jim Phillips. His background includes being an Electronics Technician, Certified Nuclear Power Plant Operator, Standards Engineer, and Industrial Engineer. He has done extensive studying of the problems of an EMP attack.
He feels strongly that we will suffer a devastating EMP attack within the next 15 years. A nuclear explosion set off 30 miles about the center of the United States would take out about a dozen states. One detonated 300 hundred miles about the center would take out all but Hawaii and Alaska. This type of well-placed EMP attack could successfully destroy the entire power grid for the continental United States as well as parts of Canada and Mexico. Because many of the larger transformers and other components are manufactured in China and other overseas locations, the grid would be down for years.
In addition, it would affect us in many other ways. Food and medical supplies would immediately start to disappear. The majority of vehicles manufactured since 1980 may fail to operate. Some test conducted by the government-using car manufactured between 1980 and 2002, showed that many of them could be restarted. The problem is that this was a relatively weak test and today’s cars have much more electronics.
Cars made before 1980 with points would probably run fine, but he suggested having a spare coil and condenser on hand, just in case. Gasoline would be available from cars damaged by the EMP attack, but once this source ran out, there would be no more deliveries. With the power grid down and most vehicles not running, he said that conditions would be very much like in the book One Second After by William R Forstchen. While this is a fictionalized version of an EMP attack, it does describe the aftereffects well. You may want to take the time to read it.
Many small electronic devices including radios will fail if not protected in faraday cages. Batteries should survive without any problems.
Regarding Faraday cages, he said that they need to be a complete enclosure with no opening. Here is a list of items people try to use for cages.
- Shipping containers will not work because of the wooden floors.
- Metal sheds with grounding will not provide any protection.
- Microwave ovens will not provide adequate protection, even though they will block radio waves. A nuclear device that has been optimized to produce EMP will generate waves a million times that of a radio transmission.
- Trashcans may not be thick enough metal to be reliable.
- Mylar bags will not work.
- Military spec bags will work
After listening to him, I would suggest doubling all your faraday cages. But don’t make the mistake of not making an effort to protect your electronics. The nuclear device may not function as designed, or may go astray and miss its targeted area. The information that we are getting may be wrong, error on the side of safety. The sad thing is that the government knows what we need to do to protect ourselves from an EMP attack and does not provide us with the information. I am sure our enemies know it, why can’t we?