What Preppers Should Know About an EMP
An EMP is one of those catastrophic events that many preppers are preparing for. Some think it may come from the government detonating an nuclear bomb in the atmosphere, and others say that solar flares from the sun will create an EMP blast across the country. There’s even been a congressional committee put together that was created to discuss the threat of an EMP on the United States.
How would the United States survive an EMP blast? Many people say that an EMP would cripple the country. You’re talking a complete grid down event. Imagine what having no power would be like. National Geographic aired a made for TV movie called American Blackout, and while it received mixed reviews there were a few lessons that we could take away from it.
The Prepper Journal has a great explanation of what an EMP is and how it would affect America:
When discussing what measure can be taken to guard against an EMP; it’s first necessary to get rid of a few myths. It’s essential to understand the nature of EMP and how it works.
One major myth or misconception is that an EMP is similar to a powerful bolt of lightning. While the two (lightning and EMPs) each produce similar results; an EMP is actually more like to a super-charged radio wave. Any bright ideas about using lightning-rods, lightning arrestors or any such grounding techniques will undoubtedly fail in protecting equipment from EMP.
Another false concept is that EMP “out of the blue” can harm your body or cause major damage to your brain way lightning strikes can. The EMP levels created by a nuclear weapon would be so minimal, they wouldn’t pose a serious health threat to plants, animals or man. This is assuming that the EMP isn’t concentrated.
EMP can be concentrated. EMP occurs when it is “pulled in” by a stretch of metal. EMP would be dangerous to living things in this case. It could become concentrated by exposed metal girders, telephone lines, long antennas or anything similar. Avoid being very close to such concentrations in event of nuclear war. A minimum distance of 8 feet from such stretches of metal is recommended for nuclear-generated EMP.
Concentration of metal, wiring etc… is the main reason that most electrical equipment would be destroyed by the EMP. It’s not that the electrical equipment itself is really that sensitive, but rather the massive electrical surge would be so concentrated that anything working on low levels of electricity would be completely fried.
So What Can I Do to Prepare For An EMP?
Protecting Small Equipment
A Faraday box is the easiest way of protecting most small electrical equipment that can be unplugged from the power source. A Faraday box is a metal box designed to divert and soak up the EMP. If the object placed in the box is insulated from the inside surface of the box, it will not be affected by the EMP travelling around the outside metal surface of the box. The Faraday box simple and cheap and often provides more protection to electrical components than “hardening” through circuit designs which can’t be (or haven’t been) adequately tested. Many containers are suitable for make-shift Faraday boxes: cake boxes, ammunition containers, metal filing cabinets and so on. Despite what you may have read or heard, these boxes do NOT have to be airtight due to the long wave length of EMP; boxes can be made of wire screen or other porous metal and be equally effective. The Faraday box is a great solution assuming that you aren’t using the equipment when the event occurs. (not likely) It is highly advised that you prepare a “back-up plan” Faraday box filled and ready for such an occasion. Shortwave radio, weather radio, small television, spare telephone and anything else you may need after. Do remember that the power grid will likely be wiped out so anything you keep will have to run off of a fuel powered generator. You should be focused on staying informed but not needlessly entertained.
The only two requirements for protection with a Faraday box are:
(1) The electrical equipment inside the box can’t touch the metal container. Insulating with cardboard, rubber, plastic or even wads of paper are acceptable methods.
(2) The metal shielding must be continuous. There can be no large holes or gaps in the shielding.
Grounding your Faraday box is not advisable. Although EMP and lightning strike are very different in the big picture; a good example how NOT grounding your Faraday box is beneficial would be to look at lightning strikes on a flying plane. These strikes seldom fry the electrical components or occupants because the metal shell acts as a large Faraday box. Since the plane isn’t grounded, the effects of lightning strikes are minimal.
Certain electrical parts are incredibly sensitive to EMP. these include IC circuits, microwave transistors, and Field Effect Transistors (FET’s). If you have electrical equipment with such components, it must be very well protected if it is to survive EMP. Once again A Faraday box is the best solution.
There is a short list of electrical equipment that is innately EMP-resistant. This includes large electric motors, vacuum tube equipment, electrical generators, transformers, relays, and the like. This kind of equipment could possibly survive a massive EMP surge and would likely to survive if a few of the precautions discussed below were taken in their design and deployment. Battery operated equipment will also be impervious to EMP. If you don’t want to buy a wealth of batteries for every appliance you own or use a radio set up with longer than 30-inch antenna, then you’ll need to use equipment that is “hardened” against EMP.