How You Can Prepare For An EMP Attack

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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 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? article, How North Korea Could Destroy The United States dated April 4, 2013, had the following to say about the threat that North Korea may pose to the US:

“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:

And, if you’re looking for some good reading on EMPs, check out One Second After and Lights Out.


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


  1. Instead of cardboard in a metal trash can I Found a plastic trash can that with a little trimming fit’s real good inside in a metal trash can

    • Survival Diva says:

      I like your idea! Makes sense and it’ll help to protect electronics from moisture and humidity.

  2. How well would the anti-static bags designed for electronics work? What about mylar bags? Would electronics in a mylar or anti-static bag deflect damage from an EMP? How about bagged and in a lined galvanized can? We are concerned with access to test our electronics monthly and recharge items with a internal power source. In some cases, we like to rotate an item with its back-up so we stay familar with our equipment and can detect failures while we can still replace the item. Is there anything more practical than wrapping and unwrapping with tin foil?

    • Survival Diva says:

      I’ve done quite a bit of research to find the best advice to protect against EMP and have read similar questions about using mylar bags. It wasn’t advised on any of the sites I visited. An antistatic bag is designed for static, but an EMP can send a much bigger pulse to electronics, therefore I wouldn’t advise storing critical equipment in anti-static bags. There has been too little research on the impact of a powerful EMP on electronics, so all we have to go on are the random self-studies that are occasionally shared, which means we’re left to “guestimate” the affects when we can’t even know what the power of an EMP may be, and have only one chance of getting it right (with regards too protecting critical electronics). Any advice I share errs to the caution because we will have no re-do’s. It’s a pain to have to unearth electronics to test them periodically, but it’ll be worth it in the long run : )

  3. I’m in the the UK and own a 1966 Morris Minor. I was thinking of changing the points based ignition to an electronic alternator type. Is this a bad move which will make the car more susceptable to EMP?

  4. One thing that I have read about regarding EMP protection and using microwaves is the idea that microwaves are made to only block microwave frequency radiation and EMP’s contain a variety of different frequencies of electromagnetic radiation, so while a microwave would block microwave frequency radiation, all of the other frequencies above and below that range of frequencies may not be blocked and will allow electronics damaging current to make its way through to your protected devices. It’s something to think about before possible investing a lot of time and money in using microwaves for Faraday boxes.

    • Great Grey says:

      The problem is based on wave length and usually longer wave lengths will be blocked too, it is the shorter wave lengths that may get through. It like screening sand everything bigger than the holes in the screen are blocked but the smaller stuff goes through. That’s how screen in the door keeps you safe from the microwaves but let you see inside because the light wave are shorter than microwaves.

  5. I lined my galvanized trash cans and lids with plastic bubbles. Do I need to re-do them with cardboard? Also, I have heard that a clothes dryer can work as a Faraday cage. Does it need to be unplugged? I have one large solar panel and inverter/generator and several small units as back-ups (Goal Zero products) that I am thinking of storing in the clothes dryer if that will work!

    • Survival Diva says:

      I am not an electrical engineer, so my advice is based upon those who are and have shared the how-to’s to protect electronics from EMP. My background, other than writing, was a GM of cellular–and I did interface with electrical engineers and was trained to understand frequencies and transmission and the like. In every case, when the plan for a home-made galvanized garbage can is discussed by those who have invested a lot of time and attention to EMP and CME, it is advised to line the can with cardboard, so yes, I would re-line with cardboard. Some have advised the extra precaution of covering the top of the can with wire mesh before placing the lid (which should be snug) on the can.

      Personally, I wouldn’t place the solar panels in a clothes dryer. I’ve never seen this advised and just off the top of my head, a clothes dryer wouldn’t have a tight seal, and would allow the pulse inside the clothes dryer, even if it were to be lined with cardboard. Anything plugged in would pose a problem.

      Hope this helped : )

  6. I have a gun safe with a battery operated combination pad. In the event of an EMP, will I be able to open the safe. I have legal paperwork, extra cash, weapons and ammo stored there. I can’t get an answer from the manufacturer.

    • Survival Diva says:


      An EMP can destroy batteries. We’ll see what others on the site have to say. This is an interesting question. I’ll do a search for an answer, but I have never seen this brought up anywhere. It’s odd that the manufacturer won’t give you an answer!

      • What studies show that batteries would be vulnerable to an EMP? I would’ve imagined that batteries like car batteries would be immune due to the large amperage they deliver and can handle during charging. I wouldn’t really anticipate batteries being vulnerable compared to most modern semi-conductor microelectronics that can be blitzed with even a fraction of an amp of power at too high of a voltage. I’d love to read about the theories behind how batteries would be vulnerable.

        • Survival Diva says:


          Here are 2 sites that discuss the affect of EMP on batteries:

          Future Science; Electromagnetic Pulse Protection by Jerry Emanuelson

          “Energizer makes lithium batteries with a 15 year shelf life. Although small batteries were not damaged during the 1962 high-altitude nuclear tests, it would be wise to store each sealed package of batteries wrapped in a layer of aluminum foil. Future EMPs may be much larger than the 1962 events. Also, battery technology is evolving and the sensitivity of newer types of batteries to EMP is unknown (although the cylindrical batteries tend to provide a certain amount of shielding just due to the way that they are constructed.). I generally prefer Energizer batteries for cylindrical batteries (AA, AAA, C and D sizes) and Duracell for 9-volt batteries. The 9-volt batteries contain 6 internal cells in series. In the Duracell 9-volt batteries, the cells are spot welded together, whereas most other popular brands use a simple press-fit interconnect for the cells. The Duracell spot-weld method generally makes for a much more reliable connection in this type of battery.

          Expect battery technology to be a rapidly-expanding area, though. Duracell has (in some respects) leaped past the Energizer lithium AA and AAA batteries with the Duracell Quantum batteries (introduced in late 2013) with a guaranteed shelf life of 10 years, and which now outperforms the Energizer lithium in some performance tests.”

          And the 2nd:

          “Having worked for a defense contractor on precisely this (well backup supplies for IFF avionics equipment), I can 100% confirm that lead acid/wet cells are 100% resistant to EMP attacks. The plates are large enough to conduct any current induced by the pulse.

          AA’s etc are not. They fail randomly.

          The AA’s tend to have zinc powder in them which migrates and shorts the cells out making them useless. This doesn’t happen to all cells but around a 40% sample failed immediately after exposure to microwave radiation (from a simple magnetron).

          The worst are NiMh/NiCd/LiIon as they tend to use tiered foil construction which is just waiting to go boom.

          Tin foil is pretty useless – if the EMP pulse wavelength is intense enough, a current can be generated inside the envelope whch is enough to cause problems.

          Stick with wet cells

          For a non-scientific approach, chuck one of the batteries in the microwave on high power for 30 seconds and see if it still works.

          I can’t site any sources unfortunately as this was internal research.”

          • Awesome, makes sense, I did forget about the Li-Ion batteries for things like computers, etc that tend to have microelectronics on board to regulate charging power too, but the info about the physical make up of many batteries would explain how a jolt of power could blitz little batteries, would kind of suck for those of us who go on the hope that rechargable batteries that we may barter for or otherwise acquire will be of use to us after a real good EMP, may be touch and go for trying to power electronics that managed to survive. Might be an interesting skill to learn to make batteries from readily available materials and just wire them up to some devices. Interesting thoughts indeed.

          • Survival Diva says:

            The skill to make batteries in a worst-case grid down scenario would mean you’d be able to barter for anything you want. It’s a unique idea I’ve never seen anyone mention, but its brilliant : )

      • My gun safes all have a key as a backup. You might want to consider getting one that does. As an addition, we need to think of all our things that have electronic locks.

    • Survival Diva says:


      What I found was disappointing, nothing specifically about a battery-run safe, but what I should have mentioned is that if the safe has any digital interface/semiconductor/electronic circuits , then it could be affected by an EMP. Even if the safe doesn’t have a digital read-out doesn’t mean it doesn’t have these components. That’s something the manufacturer can tell you. Hope this helped.

      • Thank you and all the other readers for their input. I contacted Winchester again and have still not received any response. I have decided to copy and store documents in another location and remove some firearms and ammo from the safe.

        • Survival Diva says:


          I have to say I would’ve expected more from Winchester! You’re plan will cover you, no matter what.

    • Left Coast Chuck says:

      I was given an internal study document regarding electronic medical devices and their susceptibility to electromagnetic interference and just plain old hacking. I cannot cite it or release it because it was for internal circulation only. But, having read it, I can state with certainty that I would not put anything I wanted to retrieve after an electromagnetic incident, whether man-made or natural in any device that used electronics in the locking mechanism. Manufacturers won’t talk about it for a couple of reasons. One is that they just don’t know because they haven’t studied the problem. The other is, if you had an extensive line of electronic safes which were the bulk of your business would you admit that they wouldn’t work after an electromagnetic incident? If you want to kill your company, why not just liquidate and head to some tropical island? Read “One Minute After.” While I don’t agree with the author that the government would somehow survive and be viable following an E.I., some of the immediate effects are described quite accurately in my opinion and for those whose survival is dependent upon some electronic device or even electro-mechanical device the outlook is not hopeful. Mr. Morehouse, I wouldn’t stock up on pacemakers. It would be a waste of money. Older cars would probably have their starter motors and generators fried. The points might be welded together — or not. As S.D. pointed out, the government and most companies are taking the ostrich approach to the whole question/problem. If you don’t talk about something bad, it won’t happen. Well, we know how well that works for cancer, don’t we?

      • Survival Diva says:

        Left Coast Chuck,
        This is valuable information. Thank you for sharing it. I agree with you about the realistic way in which One Minute After was written, except for the part about a semi-functioning government.

  7. Joseph Lee Morehouse says:

    After reading all these comments , I am in deep poo , my prep list is already long and now I need a faraday cage for my extra electronics which I don’t have yet , a car with no electronics – a Volkswagen or something similar , a ham radio with tubes or a ww2 radio with extra parts. I am assuming that pace makers would be damage in a EMP attack- should I have extra pace makers for 3 of my group and hope I can get them to a doctor before it too late? On a high note I am take first aid training at the local community collage.
    Thank you for this article.

    • Survival Diva says:

      We can’t do everything when we’re preparing for so many, and that is a difficult reality. You have already prepared so much for your neighbors, trying to help everyone. What if you looked around for someone nearby who is a ham radio operator? Hams have groups. Maybe one will be somewhere near you, where you can introduce yourself. It’s possible you might meet one or two who are interested in prepping–Hams tend to be free thinkers, and many are aware of the issues we’re facing–and there’s your contact for a Ham Radio (at least info they learn).

      A metal garbage can costs very little, but pacemakers would be very expensive, with little guarantee that you’ll be able to find a doctor willing or able to preform such a delicate surgery in the midst of a crisis. Of course, that’s just my opinion. Personally, I’ve had to make the tough decision to prepare for grid-down by buying the manual tools that’ll be needed and had to leave out all the conveniences like a generator, a chain saw, or anything that requires storing fuel. That decision means it will make for a more difficult life for all 23 of us. BUT to put aside the necessary food (a boatload!) meant making that difficult decision. Your situation reminds me of mine here in Idaho. We can only do what we can and we can pray.

      At least we have this site, where we can share the information and give one-another the heads-up : )

      Glad to hear you’re taking a first aid training course! AWESOME!!

    • Survival Diva says:


      I forgot to mention that a car might not be a #1 priority. Gas won’t be available in grid-down. Many Preppers have a bicycle and spare parts set aside for transportation, and they’re cheap.

      • Joseph Lee Morehouse says:

        I repair discarded bicycles for the kids in the neighborhood for extra cash , I could look at some different ideals at adapting bicycles for my group.
        Thank you.

        • Survival Diva says:


          Perfect! If ever there is a protracted grid-down, those bicycles will get you where you need to go.

        • Survival Diva says:


          Just heard back from my brother. He would have had to see the root cellar before advising how to repair it. That’s disappointing. I was hoping there would be an easy fix.

    • I’m an O.R. Nurse, had seen some pacemaker surgeries, either a new placement or a battery /generator change, needs a surgical team consisting a cardiac surgeon, an anesthesiologist, the new generator’s company rep., a cardiac unit nurse. Equipments including anesthesia machine with anesthetic gases, defibrillator to test the function of the new generator and available as an emergency defibrillator , a handheld programmer to program the new generator, and if the wires (from generator to heart) need to be replaced, continuos X-Ray is used during surgery, an XRay tech and a C-arm is also needed. D.L.

  8. What’s to say there wouldn’t be multiple set off EMP’s. So the backup you brought out is toasted anyway. Don’t mean to sound so negative but that is a possibility.

    • Survival Diva says:


      Absolutely true. There would be no way of knowing whether or not another EMP would be deployed. Having back-ups would be the only way to protect against that possibility. It could be expensive, depending upon what is viewed as critical, but it could be done.

  9. Without communication you might not know for sure if it was an emp or a nuclear attack. You could have been too far from to feel the heat, (remember the high winds?), and slept through the flash of light. Again, if you are far enough away,

    However, winds bring dust. You could be getting lethal doses of radiation while trying to start your truck … and wondering where that light dust on the windshield came from.

    People seem to think that we can’t survive a nuclear attack. From what I have read, the opposite is true … many will initially survive, and with communications out, won’t even realize at first what happened. Then many will die, soom needlessly, of radiation that they didn’t know to hide from.

    If an attack happens at night, and you were far enough away, all you know is that a lot of winds hit your house and the electricity is off. You will not know that you are already under a cover of radioactive dust, or will be in a few hours.

    I guess my point is to be prepared for both, and to not be so sure that it is only an emp. Side note: carry children, just in case. Being smaller, their organs are closer to the ground. If there is any radioactive dust, it will be closer and therefore do more damage to them … so carry them.

  10. OldSarge says:

    The idea for a backup is good advice, I bought a manual 10 ton log splitter and not only does it work well- but I also get some much needed exercise! The wife and I purchased bicycles as well, and those solar powered postcap lights will be used inside if needed( I also have extra’s in a homemade faraday cage, as well as solar panels and charge controller) Put in an aboveground swimming pool for an emergency water supply, blackout curtains for windows. I have grounding straps on the car and our bugout vehicle ( RV).

  11. Lady Life Grows says:

    I had no idea that I might need more than one layer of aluminum foil.

    But everything you do inches up your survival odds. It occurs to me that I could unplug my computer whenever I shut it off. Right now, it effectively has two miles-long antennae to conduct trouble to it. Just unplugging it is not much–but not every EMP event is much, either.

    I suspect that minor EMP events cause computers to “age,” and that unplugging them nightly would cause them to last longer.

    It doesn’t cost much time and dollar-wise, this is even cheaper than aluminum foil.

  12. guestimate says:

    The advice to put your precious electronics into a garbage can is idiotic because most people are USING their devices and don’t know when the EMP will hit; also just because YOUR devices are undamaged doesn’t mean they’ll work when the GRID is down. A vehicle
    that won’t start after an EMP strike probably has a fried computer brain, not a bad starter (unless yours is an antique vehicle), and that IS a problem if you live in a remote location. And even if YOU aren’t suffering from the EMP attack (small likelihood), others ARE and that puts you at risk in other really obvious ways.

    • Survival Diva says:


      In the short story, the electronics mentioned that Thomas hadn’t protected were 2-way radios, an emergency shortwave radio and a generator. None of these items would typically be used on a daily basis. That is why those specific items were mentioned in the story.

      The story did not elude to a bad starter. The character told his wife to avoid alarming her, as follows:

      “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.”

      In my opinion, an EMP attack would be a problem for the US if it hit even a portion of the populace. . . for all the obvious reasons.

  13. BillyBoy says:

    If you have Netflix ($10 a month) you can watch “Jericho” and “Revolution”, both about life after losing power, both very good. A great and entertaining way to get people thinking and talking about the subject if you are having push back from a friend or family member. Consider stocking up on trade items that will be in demand, like a Sawyer water filter. Gravity purify 550 gallons a day, 1 million gallon guarantee. Not bad for about $70. Their version of a Lifestraw is about $25. Priceless after grid down. Just bought a rocket stove cooker ($100 delivered Amazon) that will cook from small twigs, which are everywhere there are trees. Bags of rice are cheap, and beats starving. Make sure you have several ways to start a fire. Firesteels and preparing cotton balls with petroleum jelly in old vitamin bottles stores easily in go bags and cars. Having a store of things that will be in demand means people will trade their gold and silver to you (or whatever you are needing). Buy those things instead.

  14. There is much false information out there regarding protection from EMP/CME and Faraday cages. Single layers of conductor and insulation (or an old microwave) will not fully attenuate the pulse, multiple layers are needed. One thing that you can do is a simple test with GRMS radios, turn two on & key the mike to make sure they are working. Set the volume to high and place one inside your Faraday cage. If the signal gets through you do not have enough layers of protection. Once you do stop the signal, add 2 or 3 more layers. There will be no “do overs” for this if it does indeed occur so take the extra precaution. Bubble wrap and heavy duty foil work well and I recommend 7 layers of each THEN drop the package in the galvanized trash can. Oh ya, before wrapping your electronics, make sure you have taken the batteries out and detached antennas or anything that can act as an antenna. Another thing on autos…even with the modern ignition systems and computer modules, it does not necessarily mean they will get fried. It all depends on your location to the origin of the pulse and its strength. If the electronics are not fried they may just be “scrambled”. Completely disconnect the battery and leave it unhooked for at least 20 minutes to allow the capacitors to discharge. While waiting check all your fuses and replace the ones that burned out (from that large pack of spares you have with you in the car). Once that is all done reinstall the battery, pump the gas pedal completely to the floor just one time, then release it and try to start the car. If it does start, just let it sit and idle for another 20 minutes while the onboard computers recalibrate.

  15. I grew up with no electricity and no telephone. I would sure miss the computer and internet access and would hate to lose the refrig and freezer. But survival would still be liveable. My biggest concern would he heat in winter…I have no alternate heating method, no stove or fireplace. Just the gas operated Central heating which does not work without electricity to run the fan.
    Someone said they didn’t think ” a low altitude EMP” would affect him. He didn’t define low altitude but most would be set off at 30,000 feet and up – which is NOT low altitude.
    I was a nuclear Tech. in the early to mid 50’s in the AF. They knew about nuclear EMP’s then. Word was that three well placed bombs could wipe out nearly all the eletrical equipment in the USA including cars.

    • In the 70s, our primary heat was a floor mounted propane heater with a small kerosene heater as back-up. I was cutting and selling firewood for extra spending cash & dad decided to buy a wood stove to use some of my product. It was not difficult to install ‘PROPER’ exhaust thru the wall and slightly above the roof. If I did not have a fireplace in my bricked house, I could store a kerosene heater (and fuel) and/or acquire and stage all items necessary to run a stove exhaust thru a sacrificial window.

  16. Robert Smith says:

    Read One Second After! It was based 8 miles from where I live and it was pretty chilling to see references to my town and other familiar locations. The airplane used by the main character used to belong to a friend and the author is a friend. It will make you a believer of just how helpless you can become when disaster strikes.

    • Survival Diva says:


      One Second After was an excellent book! Great job describing what to expect should the grid be taken out.

      • If the electric grid goes down, next thing is the melting down of 100+ nuclear power plants in the US alone. Then comes the deadly nuclear fallout. Then you get sick and can’t eat,even if you have a large food supply stored.

  17. Robert Ballard says:

    Well, what happened? I was really getting into the story when you cut it off!

    Good start for conversations on the subject.

    Bob Ballard

    • Survival Diva says:


      Glad you liked the story. It would have been fun to write a few more pages, but I was worried that this week’s post would end up being too long : ) . If it helps, when Thomas arrives to his neighbor’s house, he is on the ham radio–it was a series of EMP’s.

  18. quote: “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”

    How are we supposed to do this? At least one side must touch the cardboard. Is there a step missing? Is the bottom lined with wood?

    • Doesn’t make a lot of sense does it? The cardboard does nothing but keep your equipment from touching the metal can. If it touches the metal can it is destroyed by the pulse and ‘one more layer’ is going to do no good.
      I was an Electrical Engineer. We built tracking antenna systems to track missiles and satellites. We bid on a job to build one that would withstand an EMP. So we did a lot of research on what was needed to protect equipment.

    • He means the metal interior of the pail, not the cardboard.

    • Survival Diva says:

      BReady & Bob,

      I DID leave out the suggestion of a piece of wood or 2nd empty box at the bottom to rest the filled box on. Sorry about that! Actually, placing the electronics in a box is just a secondary precaution, as is placing a piece of wood or an empty box in the bottom of the lined can. The cardboard lining is sufficient. The double layer of protection was to insure against the can’s cardboard lining being displaced, exposing the galvanized can–another words Murphy’s Law : )

  19. The results of the 50s studies are colored by the fact that almost everything was analog and tube type. I used 18 gage wire to connect all the drawers to the frame on my file cabnets, and lined them with cardboard, the small walkie talkies are wrapped in foil, AND several brain boxes for my motorcycles are foil wrapped and in steel ammo boxes, as are several spare automobile ones. In the vehicles, except my diesel truck with old style non-electronic injection system all my trucks have been changed to Carburator and “points and condenser” ignition, the diodes in the alternators are heavy duty enough to survive, but those in the regulator won’t! But…..the old dodges had a mechanical regulator, 2 wires, one to the ign switch the other to the field connection on the alternator! EMP proof! My generators have old non electronic injection pumps also, Small engines have diodes and a transistor molded in the ignition coils, have spares for generators and chain saws, and any generator with an electronic regulator, that includes motorcycles! Small, wrapped in foil and in the saddle bags. Those small new generators available locally everywhere not only won’t start but won’t generate as they have diodes on the armature and solid state regulators! Polyphaser makes EMP protection equiptment, for anything connected to an outside line! The have merged and have another name, but can be googled! I’m guessing that the large area of semiconducting surface on solar panels will protect them, but not any electronics connected! Electric forklifts have diodes handling over 1000 amps, certainly EMP proof! Start NOW!

  20. Another old classic to read is “Alas Babylon”. It’s about surviving in a sheltered area after nuclear destruction, but is grid down, end of life as we know it.

    I store my electronics in an old microwave. I have been told this is sufficient. Anybody know different?

    • I kept an old, clunky microwave oven that I was going to throw away, to use as a Faraday cage. I tested it by placing a cell phone inside and calling from my land line. The cell phone did not ring, so the microwave is definitely blocking some rays. Whether or not it is enough to withstand an EMP, I have no idea.

      My two concerns are:
      1. How am I going to know when the EMP is coming, so I can put my stuff inside the microwave?
      2. How am I going to use any electronic devices that I’ve saved if the grid is fried?

  21. Need to make sure storage container is connected to an earth ground for best results And if you have solar panels in a situation like a solar flare or emp. They will be toast so what’s your backup plan then?

    • Survival Diva says:


      Check out Master’s Connection 2020:

      In a tutorial, Protecting Your Electrical Equipment from Solar Flares, it gives diagrams of what a CME can do to electronics and how to protect them. . . BUT because electronics and solar panels must be disconnect to protect them, it doesn’t solve the problem of an EMP, where there will not be advanced warning.

      Speaking of a solar flare, last night there was a X1.3 class solar flare that temporarily disrupted electronics. Here’s the link:

      “The sun erupted with a massive solar flare late Thursday (April 24), triggering a temporary communications blackout on some parts of Earth.
      The powerful flare peaked at 8:27 p.m. EDT Thursday (0027 April 25 GMT), and ranked as an X1.3-class solar storm, one of the strongest types of flares the sun can experience, according to a report from the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center. NASA’s sun-watching Solar Dynamics Observatory captured video of the intense solar flare in several difference wavelengths.”

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