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EMP: America’s Greatest Threat? And what can we do about it?

“Where will you be when the bombs drop?” Quite an obvious question during the Cold War and with the North Korea fiasco this is seeming, sadly, like a logical question once more. A nuke was simply explained as a giant bomb, something that everyone understood and was easy to fear. However, EMPs are more complex in their nature. For those that don’t know, EMP is an acronym for Electromagnetic Pulse; and that’s exactly what they are, a giant pulse of energy. There are many forms of EMPs from small sparks to solar flares wiping out entire electrical grids, the more dangerous ones I shall delve into.

Let me introduce ye to these fiends. NEMP (Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse) the result of a nuclear explosion, a much more dangerous version is a HEMP (High altitude Electromagnetic Pulse) a nuke detonated in the mid-stratosphere which greatly increases the range and effectiveness of said pulse. There is also a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) which is essentially the aforementioned solar flare.
What exactly are the effects of an EMP? Very much so like lightning, it creates a powerful electric surge that takes out most, if not all, electronics that it comes in contact with. A HEMP has the capability to effect the entire United States mainland. Any device that has unprotected electrical components is susceptible to an EMP, from planes, most modern cars, hospital equipment, mobile phones and their corresponding cell towers.

The first hours after an EMP especially with air travel and hospitals would be disastrous on a society, with modern cars and cell towers out most transportation communication will be out. Even if you’ve been lucky enough that your mobile phone still works it wont do you much good with a cell tower out. Our cell towers are extremely vulnerable because their antennas are designed to broadcast frequencies, that works both ways to make them attract lightning and thus are susceptible to EMPs. The same applies to our power lines and electrical grid, it’s all above ground. An above ground grid acts like a giant antenna that can broadcast an EMP, making it’s effect even worse due to that vulnerability.

Move past a few hours and what happens? It’s estimated that most grocery stores have enough stock to maintain the regular consumption of good for about a week, but I dare say in an EMP scenario there’ll be a mad dash to all these places. Thus the supply might not last even for a few days. So if you ever were to prepare, do so in advance. This will make things like prescription drugs will be difficult to acquire, even basic medicine, and toilet paper. During the Great Depression what was one of the things people learned to hoard? Toilet paper! It might sound odd but these basic necessities of life owe their thanks to the same stuff that keeps the lights on. Further down the date, and what I believe might be the most dangerous effect of an EMP, the cooling factors an nuclear generators will begin to fail. If nuclear plants begin to fail then the resulting radiation will effect most every State in the mainland.

You might be asking me now “well, what’s the good news? Oh harbinger of doom?” Well I’m so glad you asked! There’s a magnanimous list of thing you can do to protect yourself from such. Let me start with a faraday cage.

You might have noticed on your microwave there’s a metal mesh, that’s there to prevent the electromagnetic waves from leaving the microwave. And that’s what a faraday cage does, it protects from electromagnetic waves. There are many ways to make a faraday cage, from simply using a metal trash can as the container and taping the lid shut with aluminum tape, to using a microwave as a cage to even more extravagant methods. If you’re interested in that, then google is thy ally.

Next we have radio, specifically amateur radio or ham radio. If you can acquire a license (which isn’t difficult to do) then having even a handheld radio will allow you to communicate with any other radio operator, as long as those radios are working. Throw a ham radio in a faraday cage and forget about it, that’ll still be a great thing in the case of an EMP. Note that many things covered here can help with other disasters as well.

Now last but not least, legislation. The same idea with a faraday cage can also be applied to our power grid, and there is legislation to secure our grid. This can be on both the state and federal level, call your representatives (both local and federal) and tell them to support such legislation. This can allow our grid to be minimally impacted by an EMP and will greatly improve our ability to repair any damage that could be caused from such.


Word of the article: Be wary of the ‘malaperts’ out there.

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