You see the bright flash in the sky, hear thunder, and then suddenly there’s electricity crackling everywhere. Electrical fires start, all the lights go out, and every computer is suddenly fried beyond recognition. An electromagnetic pulse or EMP attack has occurred.
What exactly is an EMP?
An electromagnetic pulse aka EMP is a sudden burst of electromagnetic energy that radiates through the air at near the speed of light and creates problems in its wake. It can be caused by natural effects, such as lightning or solar storms. It can be caused by a sudden surge or failure in power generation systems. Or it can be created by an explosive device.
Electromagnetic radiation is made of pulsing waves of energy that pass through space similar to how waves of water go through the ocean. They energize matter, causing sunlight to tan our skin, microwaves to cook our food, and visible light to cause us to see colors. The particles (atoms) of our bodies and everything around us get more excited and energized as electromagnetic waves pass through us.
An electromagnetic pulse moves extremely fast, which means it will generate a lot of electricity in nearly any metal object it passes through. Electromagnetic waves moving through metal at high speeds cause the electrons in the metal to become excited, and electricity is the result. This is one of the reasons the lights sometimes go out near a lightning strike.
How does EMP Happen?
Sometimes, an event will occur that causes a tidal wave of electromagnetic energy. A solar flare, nuclear explosion, lightning strike, or other events can cause a major blast of electromagnetic energy that spreads out in all directions. This kind of pulse affects everything it hits. Electrons in the atmosphere begin to dance much faster, as the wave interacts with the earth’s magnetic fields, causing everything to heat up and electricity to be created inside every piece of metal within the field of effect.
How can you protect your electronics?
An EMP is one of the scarier survival events that preppers need to be ready for. An EMP could be caused by either nuclear weapons detonated high in the atmosphere, or by natural solar events. Either of these events could be massive enough to knock out the electrical grid for the entire country and destroy most electronics.
You probably have a huge amount of information stored in digital format. Two more big reasons to protect your electronics from EMP are communication and power generation. You’ll want to be able to use radios to communicate with other survivors and receive any messages from the government.
The first step to protect your electronics is to remove them from power sources. Anything plugged into electrical outlets during an EMP event will likely be destroyed, even if you use surge protectors. Any portable devices should have their batteries removed when not in use as well. That mostly means backups are required since there’s no warning with an EMP attack.
Just because your device is unplugged doesn’t mean it’s safe from an EMP attack though. To really protect your electronics against an EMP, you’ll want to place them in some type of Faraday cage or Faraday bag.
What is a Faraday Cage or Faraday Bag?
A Faraday cage protects electronics by using materials such as fine metal mesh or solid pieces of metal. There are many different kits and plans available online to try and create your own Faraday cage at home. Some people claim that you can make a Faraday cage with something as simple as a microwave or aluminum foil. But in our experience, these techniques aren’t very effective at all. In our opinion, a Faraday bag is the best way to protect your electronics against an EMP attack.
A Faraday bag works much the same way that a Faraday cage does. But unlike a Faraday cage, they are much smaller, easier to store, and potentially more effective. A common way people try to make their own Faraday cage at home is by using a galvanized steel trash can. Not only is this really bulky and difficult to store, but it usually won’t provide strong enough protection to save your electronics from the effects of EMPs.
You can get Faraday bags as big as 32″ x 38″. With a Faraday bag that large, you can fit most of your important electronics. It’s big enough to fit things like LED monitors, food dehydrators, solar panels, or even gas generators.
Further reading about an Electromagnetic Pulse
If you would like to read a great series about an EMP attack check out the series EMP: Equipping Modern Patriots “A Story of Survival” by Jonathan Hollerman