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Today’s post describes, in story form, what might be experienced during an EMP attack. As the situation in the Ukraine continues to heat up, and North Korean leader, 31 year old Kim Jong-Un, flings threats at the US, it’s worth turning a critical eye to the efforts we’ve made, or not made, to harden the electronics we’ve deemed critical for survival.
(David’s note: Ironically, I’m not too worried about a nuclear EMP pulse reaching me where I live. A low altitude blast may hit NYC/DC, or even LA, but I’m doubtful that my electronics will be affected. That would knock out the grid, but my electronics would still work. The EMP pulse that I see as being much more likely is a series of EMPs from a CME/solar flare. This would be a series of EMPs that could affect the entire Earth and could come in waves over several hours or even days. As if on cue, I just saw on spaceweather.com that an x class solar flare caused a temporary radio blackout on Earth TODAY when the CME hit the Earth’s upper atmosphere.)
Are Kim Jong-Un’s Threats Soundless?
“The administration moves an advanced missile defense system to Guam because it knows a single low-yield nuke detonated at high altitude could send America back in time a hundred years.”
Being forewarned and prepared for the unexpected insures a safe transition to grid-down, and there are many things you can do now, before the unexpected hits, that can make a world of difference. Consider protecting all critical electronics with something as simple an inexpensive as a galvanized garbage can that can be modified into a home-made Faraday cage. Here’s how:
- Purchase a galvanized garbage can with a snug-fitting lid.
- Line the galvanized garbage can with cardboard, making sure there are no gaps–styrofoam has the disadvantage of not molding to the interior of the can.
- Wrap the electronics you want to protect in fabric and place in a zip-lock bag. Cover the item in three layers of heavy household aluminum foil, taking care there are no gaps or tears, and press to form a tight fit around the item.
- Place the wrapped electronics in a cardboard box to add another layer of protection and place in the garbage can, making certain no part of the box is touching the cardboard-protected interior.
- Place the lid on the galvanized garbage can, making sure the lid fits snugly. If you want to be double-sure, a sheet of metal screen can be formed over the top of the can, and with a little muscle, the lid can be forced on, which will effectively maintain a continuous connection.
- When storing the galvanized can, it should not be stored next to any metal, and is best placed on top of a sheet of wood or 2 X 4’s so that it is not in contact with the ground.
or, bury ammo cans in the ground using conductive tape between the lid and the case and/or wrapping the ammo can in aluminum foil.
Additionally, manual tools are a good insurance against a protracted crisis. If you haven’t already, access your preparedness plan for a time that may lead to grid-down. A chain saw and a generator are awesome conveniences, but by setting aside a manual back-up, if you run out of the fuel to run them you’re still covered.
Here’s a quick vignette illustrating the possible immediate aftereffects of an EMP…
The Day After
Thomas woke to the high pitched bleep of a battery-run alarm. The electric clock beside it revealed nothing but a blank screen. His wife, Sarah, was curled on her side, showing no signs of waking. It had been a late night. Sixty-mile wind gusts had demonstrated to Thomas why he should have trimmed the overgrown Ponderosa Pine that stood just outside their bedroom. It’s branches had scraped along the window pane all night, reminding him of fingernails traveling down a chalkboard.
The alarm clock read 5:17 am and he needed to be on the road by 5:45. Thomas unfurled from the bed covers to grab a T-shirt and a pair of jeans. Today, he’ll be at the construction site.
His sleep-numbed brain was reminded of the power outage when the flushing toilet gurgled and refused to re-fill the bowl with water. He’ll have to forgo his shower, he realizes, as he throws on the clothing he had dropped unceremoniously on the bathroom floor. He would need to get the emergency generator started before he left.
After several tries to get the generator going, Thomas was stumped. Everything was connected right and the tank was topped off, but he hadn’t been able to coax so much as a sputter. Looking at his watch, he was forced to call a truce. He should have left ten minutes ago. His commute is 60 miles of winding single lane roads. Not only were there few passing lanes, logging trucks were about the only traffic on the roadway this early in the morning.
Returning to the bedroom, Thomas watched as Sarah sat up and began to rub the sleep from her eyes.
“Is the electricity down?” she asks past a yawn.
Walking to her side of the bed, Thomas spoke in a whisper. Their ten year old son and seven year old daughter wouldn’t be getting up for another hour. “It’s down. Something’s wrong with the generator. I tried everything I could think of to get it going, but it won’t start. I’ll work on it tonight. Will you and the kids be okay until then?”
Sarah pushed errant curls away from her face and shrugged. “We’ll be okay, no different than before we bought the generator. Actually, the kids will probably enjoy helping me make camp stove pancakes. What I don’t get is why the generator won’t start. It’s only a few months old.”
“It’s probably something simple. I should have it running tonight.” Thomas leaned over and pecked his wife on her cheek.
On the way to the truck, he had to navigate downed branches. The guilt he felt for leaving Sarah and the kids at home without electricity and now the mess of downed branches made him want to turn back around. But he’d scheduled a sit-down with his head foreman. He needed answers. They were over two weeks behind schedule on the apartment building they were under contract to build. His small contracting business was one of the few in the area that had made it to the other side of the crash without going in the red, but something like this delay could change that overnight if they didn’t get things under control.
The sky had grown brighter and was already promising another warm spring day as Thomas climbed behind the steering wheel. Turning the key, the Dodge Ram showed no signs of starting, and his earlier feeling of unease quickly turned to dread. The dashboard remained dark and none of his attempts to start the engine returned so much as a clicking sound from the starter solenoid. Sarah’s car was in for repair, so he wouldn’t be able to confirm what his gut was telling him. Thomas was a pragmatic man, not given to jumping to the worst-case scenario. But so far the morning had revealed an electrical outage, a virtually new generator that refused to start, and now his truck.
Returning to the old farm house, his thoughts turn to their basement full of food storage and preparedness goods he and Sarah had struggled to put aside. If there was any merit to his feeling of dread, Thomas told himself, at least his family was covered for the foreseeable future. . . with the exception of protecting the electronics with a Faraday cage. Nothing was backed up; not their vehicles, nor the two-way radios, and, unfortunately, not the generator.
Instead of dumpster-diving for more worries, Thomas entered the house determined to rule out the possibility of a run of odd coincidences and nearly bumped into Sarah. She was wearing a heavy robe to insulate herself against the chilly morning.
“You caught me. I thought I’d check the generator. You know what they say about a woman’s touch,” Sarah said with a smile on her face.
“I might be able to work on it myself. The truck won’t start.”
Sarah’s look of concern had Thomas backtracking. “It’s probably the starter. I’m going to grab the emergency radio, see what’s up with last night’s storm.”
Sarah shot him a piercing look. “The storm doesn’t explain the generator and your truck not starting.”
“Let’s see what we pick up on the radio,” Thomas said, unwilling to invite trouble when so much hung in the balance.
Sarah nods, clearly shaken, before continuing to the back porch.
Thomas strode to the kitchen pantry where the must-have preparedness goods were stored. Opening the door of the pantry, a feeling of relief settles over him. Organized on the shelves of the large, walk-in pantry are emergency candles, oil lamps, batteries, medical supplies, and a small portion of the food storage he and Sarah had put aside. The rest crowded the basement.
On the floor sat buckets filled with bulk goods. The shelves held spices that were labeled and stored in canning jars. Next to the spices were containers of coffee stacked on top of one-other and cooking oil, coconut oil, shortening and other cooking supplies. Canned goods were neatly grouped together, the oldest cans towards the front: vegetables, fruit, broths, soups and sauces.
On the top shelf next to a camp stove sat the emergency radio. Thomas purchased it for its shortwave capability. He hoped to pick up chatter that would tell him what he and Sarah were up against. As he took it down from the shelf, his stomach was in a knot. Based upon the electrical outage, his truck not starting and the generator’s not running, he suspected it’s electronics was fried.
For the price of heavy tin foil, he could have wrapped the shortwave radio and the two-way radios in several layers of foil and protected them in a metal garbage can. With a bit of modification–lining the can with cardboard and securing the lid, what little electronics he and Sarah had invested in would’ve been protected. If he had stored the generator in a homemade Faraday cage instead of on the back porch, he suspected it would have started up this morning.
As far as he could tell, vehicles were a wild card. For every site he’d visited, there was conflicting advice. Some swore that an EMP wouldn’t affect cars made before the late 1960’s. Other sites assured the reader that even new cars with extensive electronic components would not be affected. Several sites mentioned an EMP study that was released by the EMP Commission. Of the 37 cars that were tested, only one suffered damage that required repair to the electronic dashboard. But some claimed the study was flawed. It tested for a 50 kV/m event that lasted for a short millisecond. If what had occurred was an EMP, it was possible that the strength and duration was much greater than the test, as many had warned about.
Thomas’ answer came immediately. The radio didn’t work, even after he changed out the batteries–although as he changed out the batteries, he recalled reading that an EMP could render them useless. Thomas was now convinced that what had come at them during the night was a powerful EMP. To double-check his theory, he tried his cell. Nothing. He walked to the old-school clip-in land line phone. It had been purchased soon after they had moved to the farm house when constant power outages had forced them to replace their portable phone for something reliable. It, too, was dead.
The one person Thomas knew who might know what was going on was his neighbor. He was a dedicated ham operator, and as far as Thomas could tell, a hoarder of ham radios. He stored his vast collection behind the door of a converted oversized walk-in closet that had been protected with aluminum sheeting. It was his advice that had pointed Thomas to the emergency radio that now sat on the kitchen counter and he was the one who had advised Thomas to protect his critical electronics.
Thomas would need to ride his bicycle the 2 miles with his tail between his legs for news. He should have listened . . .
(David’s note: would the generator have worked? Possibly. Would the car have worked? Possibly. Would a preparedness plan based on solid fundamentals help, regardless of whether or not it focused on EMP attacks? Absolutely! In short, if you’re fearful of EMPs, whether nuclear or solar, you don’t need to focus on their effects…rather, focus on solid survival and self-reliance skills that will help you whether the disaster you face is natural, manmade, short term, or long term.
That’s why the Survive In Place Urban Survival Course and the Fastest Way To Prepare course are based on solid fundamentals that will increase your survivability, regardless of the disaster you may face. And, if you want to learn more about Survive In Place by clicking >HERE< and if you want to learn about Fastest Way To Prepare, click >HERE<
To learn more about EMPs, David wrote an excellent article here: survivethecomingcollapse.com/1083/solar-storms-and-nukes-hidden-in-container-ships/
After reading this short story, do you recognize any weak points in your preparedness? Are you prepared to weather the protracted crisis an EMP could bring? Do you have advice on how best to protect electronics and vehicles, or has conflicting advice left you floundering over how to proceed? Any other novels on EMPs that you’ve found particularly educational/insightful? Please post your comments below!
God bless and stay safe,
David Morris and Survival Diva