EMPs are scary business.
If you don’t know what they are, it stands for electromagnetic pulse, and it can render electronics useless for an unforeseen amount of time. These are absolutely weaponized in developed countries across the world.
An EMP attack can take away all of your dependence on electricity, and you’re left in the dark trying to figure out how to make it work. You want to know how to survive an EMP attack?
It’s not going to be pretty, but we’re going to get through it together.
Contrary to Popular Belief, EMPs Aren’t Just Going to Come From Nukes
The fear is that a nuclear missile will go off in the atmosphere, and bring down an EMP. Could that happen?
Yes, but an EMP does not exclusively have to come from a nuclear explosion.
It’s believed that many countries like the United States have the necessary military intelligence and R&D to possess a weaponized EMP without using nuclear radiation.
EMPs can even occur from lighting storms (unlikely, but a possibility), or they can be created through high-intensity gamma radiation or microwaves. It doesn’t have to come from a nuke.
2012 Solar Storm
Remember when the world was going to end in 2012… and then it didn’t? There was something that happened in 2012, and it was a solar flare. Thankfully, it didn’t hit Earth, but it did come pretty close.
On July 23rd, 2012, an enormous blanket of hot plasma erupted from the sun. It went through Earth’s orbit, and then it left. Thank God it left.
If that solar storm had erupted one week prior to its actual date, we would have undergone serious damages.
“I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did,” said one Daniel Baker, a lead researcher from the University of Colorado.
But what if it happened for real?
It would be a global technological blackout, and that’s when the rest of the information in this guide would come to life.
How Often do Solar Storms Happen?
It’s important to note that a solar storm is only categorized as such by media outlets. Scientifically, it is referred to as an eruption. The reason this is important is because a solar flare is not an eruption, and therefore not a cause for alarm.
In fact, the sun could create solar flares multiple times per day, or an entire week could pass without a single one.
They’re irregular (because we don’t know everything about the sun), but they don’t travel at the speed of light, so we will have some level of warning from the higher-ups in the scientific community. The bottom line is that it could happen at any time, and we need to be prepared.
Will There be Any Warning Signs?
Thanks to the numerous, complex ways that scientists monitor the universe, we will have some indication. During the 2012 solar storm, we had some knowledge about what was happening.
This official NOAA website has space weather conditions covered under their “Alerts, Watches, and Warnings” program on their website. You can check this regularly for information, though if it’s going to be big enough, it will definitely hit mainstream news.
Is the Grid Ready for Intense Solar Storms or a Nuke EMP Event?
Yes and no. Some grids are ready, but those are in centralized areas. We actually have information from the IEEE Spectrum that indicates where the most vulnerable spots on the United States map are for solar storm disturbance.
However, the good news is – excluding the 2012 solar storm – most solar activity only affects high voltage areas. Power plants, places with high levels of electricity, and other key buildings and areas tend to have backup generators and emergency provisions that they can put into place.
Did we Learn Anything From the 2012 Solar Storm?
We learned just how powerful solar storms can be, but little has gone into practice. If an EMP struck, it wouldn’t just “make electronics go out for a year” like many people used to believe.
Because the 2012 solar storm missed, it gave a lot of scientists the necessary media outlets to talk about just what we really lucked out on.
A solar EMP on the scale of the 2012 solar storm would literally fuse conductive wiring together after ionizing the atmosphere, rendering all electrical equipment unusable. We don’t have a defense against it in the slightest, apart from how we prepare to live life after it happens.
When Can We Expect the Next Solar Storm?
Did we really need 2020 to get any worse?
There’s currently a string of activity that began in 2020 and will end in 2025, which is a “hot spot” of solar activity.
Between these years, solar activity will increase, but the severity of plasma and solar flares is about 30% to 50% less than normal. Generally speaking, the sun goes through eleven-year cycles of solar activity, which is why the 2020-2025 prediction is so bizarre.
During this time we’re not likely to endure a solar flare or solar storm that affects Earth. However, those are just probabilities, and the fact of the matter is that this could happen at any time with little to no warning. We’re stuck in a loop where this is a possibility every single day.
We still don’t know a lot about the sun, or about stars in general for that matter. That 30% to 50% number I gave you is just what’s current, but science and understanding (especially when it has to do with the stars and our galaxy) is ever-changing. This information could become outdated tomorrow.
The only shred of solace in all of this is that if it takes eight full minutes for light to travel from the sun to Earth, and while radiation particles (which are found in sunlight) also only take eight minutes, plasma moves slower.
Even at what we believe its fastest travel speed is, it would take about twelve hours to three or more days to reach Earth. Is that a lot of time?
Not at all, but NASA could warn us so it wouldn’t come as a chaotic shock. It would stifle the blow by taking the element of surprise out of the equation.
How Does an EMP Even Damage Electronics?
It doesn’t damage electronics – it destroys them entirely. Saying that it damages them gives some indication of it being repairable, but an EMP will actually fuse all conductive wiring within an electronic device together.
The myth of turning off electronics to protect them from an EMP doesn’t make a difference, in case you were wondering.
EMPs have become popular in movies, video games, and television shows, but they always show a device turning back on as if nothing happened. Nothing could be further from the truth in this case.
Electronics are like magnets for electromagnetic pulses. When the EMP strikes, your electronics absorb that energy, but it’s always too much for these devices to handle, causing them to short circuit or fuse together.
If you turn off electronics and disconnect them from the power grid, they stand a better chance at not being fried, but it’s still highly possible.
Just so you know, one 2012 solar storm-sized EMP could knock out every power transformer across the United States of America in an instant, causing short circuiting and potential explosions.
What Electronics Are Safe From EMPs?
If you somehow own a Faraday Cage, and it works as intended, you can place your electronics in there to protect them. This will work for anything once you know what you’re doing, and how a Faraday’s Law works.
Because we will likely have at least twelve hours notice of an impending solar flare, storm, or solar EMP (these may be categorized differently from media outlets, so distinction is key), you could transfer important electronics to a Faraday Cage and negate the impacts of an EMP.
These cages are complex and the science isn’t entry-level stuff, but when you get it right, it can protect you.
Can Anything to be Done to Protect Your Current Electronics?
Apart from the Faraday Cage, you have one more similar method: the Faraday bag. These don’t work like a metal Faraday Cage, but they do include EMP and CME protection in a variety of standards.
The thing to remember here is that whether it’s a $20 bag, or this ridiculously expensive Faraday bag, they are only proven to work under laboratory conditions. We haven’t had a solar EMP strike and then had these bags proven to work without a single issue. It’s just not that simple.
Your best bet would be a traditional Faraday Cage if you’re able to get your hands on one. These bags are still viable solutions, but they’re not as effective as a full-on cage.
We don’t know the magnitude at which a solar storm is going to hit, so while a MIL STD 188-125 rating is still nice and definitely useful, it’s not a clear indicator of how bad the next solar event is going to be. It’s just partial preparedness.
What to Expect When an EMP Event Occurs?
Nothing good. We’re a technological, digital, electricity-fueled society and that’s not going to change as time goes on.
The only thing that will change is our increasing dependence on all this stuff. These are some of the key issues you’ll encounter during an EMP event.
This one should be pretty obvious. Everything is rendered useless, and electricity will be scarce. If you were fortunate enough to pack a back-up generator in a Faraday Cage or bag, congratulations – you have access to a way to make power, and nothing to actually use the power on.
Normal electric grid systems are going to take months to years to come back online before anything can be close to normal. But hey, at least we’ll be able to see the stars every night.
Loss of Data
Your external hard drives, thumbstick drives, digital photo frames, and potentially cloud-based storage are all at-risk. The myth that cloud storage will save us in the event of an EMP, solar or weaponized, is a bunch of bollocks.
An EMP may not strike every single home and power system across the globe in one fell swoop, but if it strikes over critical areas that host servers and digital storage facilities, everything there is going to be wiped out.
Critical Services Inoperable for Weeks
Critical services, such as police to maintain order, hospitals to heal the sick, and emergency services in general; they’re all going to get power back on before you or I do, and for good reason. That being said, it’s going to be a scramble until they do get their power back on.
911 calls won’t go through (but kudos to you for storing your cell phone properly), so even when they’re back online, you’ll still have to find help the old-fashioned way: yelling until someone hears you.
Collapse of Logistics
The world runs on logistics. Cities would be nothing without logistics. Logistics refer to how services are rendered, materials are acquired, stored, transported, and put into the hands of people who need them.
The short version of this is: we’re all on our own. Medicine will become scarce even when the factories get their power back and replace the broken machines, building materials will be stuck at locations with no idea where to take them, and everything will be pretty chaotic.
Just one more reason to get everything you need and stockpile it beforehand.
How to Prepare for an EMP
You have to choose whether or not you’re bugging out or hunkering down. Once you do, it’s time to assemble your gear list.
It’s much easier to hunker down since you don’t have to physically go anywhere, and you can stockpile years worth of supplies without having to lug them around, but depending on where you are bugging out might be a better option.
The electric appliances aren’t going to work anyway, so leave them at home. You can either bring them with you when you bug out, or if you’re hunking down, you’ll simply have easy access to them throughout the day.
Non-electric appliances include a pot fridge, food strainers, dough makers, manual mixers or whisks, and a french press or percolator for coffee. You can also use camping stoves.
Electric tools will also be rendered useless in the event of an EMP. Hand tools that you should bring with you include knives, screwdrivers, multitools, tactical pens, pry bars, and anything else that you could get use out of.
There’s no telling what the world is going to look like when an EMP strikes, so don’t assume that we’ll be dealing with friendlies left and right – make sure your manual tools can also pack a punch if need be.
Food and Water Supplies
We wouldn’t be good preppers if we didn’t have these handy. Three days of water and as much food as you can possibly handle in a single backpack, and then it’s off to the races.
These should be available in your bug out bag. If you don’t have the ability to bring water with you, make sure you’re bringing water purification tablets or personal water filters, and be sure that a freshwater source is somewhat close to your home.
Any self-defense equipment that you have needs to be accessible. Not locked in a storage unit, not on the other side of the room, but nearby.
An EMP is the perfect reason to bug out – society is going to be a mess, and you have to do everything in your power to be prepared for the consequences of it. The law isn’t going to stop just because an EMP hits, so keep in mind that you still need your self-defense equipment to meet local laws.
Will Solar Chargers and Batteries Survive an EMP?
No. There’s such a minute window of chance here that you should never count on your solar power chargers or batteries to survive an EMP. Just like other electronics, these will be destroyed in a matter of no time.
Anything that is hardwired to other electronic devices runs the risk of suffering more damage than standalone items, although standalone items with their own dedicated power supply are not exempt from encountering the same level of damage.
They’re simply easier to hide from electromagnetic pulses.
Knowing Your Options for an EMP Attack
An EMP attack is a very possible reality. In March of 2019, President Trump issued an executive order to prepare the United States against an EMP based on military intelligence. It’s a very real threat.
You know the important, must-have information on EMP attacks and what to do if you’re trapped in its repercussions. Prepare now, and you won’t have to worry later.