One of the scariest and most serious disasters that could hit our country is an EMP (electromagnetic pulse). Whether caused by an enemy setting off a nuclear bomb above the atmosphere, or created by a solar storm, it is widely understood that an EMP would wipe out the country’s electrical grid, putting us back 150 years or more, technologically speaking. Such an event would probably result in the deaths of as much as 90% of our population, mostly due to starvation.
Considering the antics of the madman who is running North Korea, we can’t ignore the possibility of such a disaster happening. While I hope that things get cooled down long before it gets to that, an EMP is Kim Jong-un’s best way of hitting us where it hurts and winning a war with the United States. The only questions that really remain are whether he is thinking that way and whether he can accomplish it.
Unfortunately, few people really understand what an EMP is and what kind of damage it will create. More than knowing the facts about EMP, the information that they have heard better qualifies as fear mongering. As such, it’s mostly inaccurate.
One of the biggest inaccuracies that exists is how much damage an EMP attack will produce. There’s good reason for that though; nobody has ever experienced one. So while the mechanism of EMP has been studied and tests have been run to determine if things will be damaged or not, integrating all that into a whole is s bit difficult. There’s a lot of guesswork involved in that process.
Nevertheless, while the electrical grid itself will probably be toast, with the custom-built transformers in the sub-stations fried, some things will survive. We will need those things, once we find a way of generating electrical power on a local level so that we can start putting our lives back together.
8. Cell Phones
There’s a good chance that most cell phones and other small portable electronics will survive. While the network that they depend on for communications will be out, the phones themselves will probably be okay. So, even though we won’t be able to use them for communications, we will be able to use them for storing and retrieving data and pictures, as well as whatever apps we have that don’t require connection to the phone network.
7. Old Electronics
Older electronic devices, especially those that use vacuum tubes, aren’t as sensitive to EMP as solid-state electronics, especially integrated circuits. So vintage radios and audio equipment made with those vacuum tubes will survive. The question will be, will there by anyone broadcasting?
6. Old Computers
Computer technology changes so fast that few people are actually able to sell their old computers, when they buy new ones. Unless you’re buying a new computer every year, that old one is looked at as a dinosaur. So there are a lot of people with old computers sitting in their basement, attic or another storage area.
Since those computers probably won’t be connected when the EMP hits, there’s a good chance that they will survive. Remember, most computers are made with metal cases, so they are protected from an EMP anyway. As long as there isn’t a tangle of wires to act as an antenna, capturing the EMP and bringing it into the computer case, it should be safe.
Most home appliances don’t contain the sensitive solid-state electronics that EMP can damage, unless you happen to own the newest and most expensive of them. Motors and other large electronics are unlikely to be affected by the EMP, especially if they are unplugged when it happens.
Even the fancy appliances with touch screen control panels have a good chance of surviving, although their controls won’t. But all it will take to make them usable is a few switches, bypassing the burnt-out controls.
4. Warehouses Full of Electronics
A Faraday Cage is a metal enclose to protect electronics from an EMP. As long as the electronics are insulated from the enclosure itself, there is no way for the EMP to reach the electronics. Some preppers are taking advantage of this and making Faraday Cages, which they are putting radios, computers and other electronics in.
But there are other Faraday Cages all around us, already filled with electronics. Most warehouses in America are metal buildings and some are filled with brand new electronic devices. Any electronics stored in those buildings will be safe and secure from the EMP, available to use, once we get some power in place.
There are a lot of people who think that cars will just stop running when an EMP happens. However, most cars are Faraday Cages, unless they have a plastic or fiberglass body. As such, they will protect the engine computer. About the only exception to this would be if the computer is located under the dashboard, instead of in the engine compartment.
Amongst the various things that the EMP Commission tested, was cars. While a few of the cars stalled when hit with an EMP, they were not permanently damaged, and restarted easily. This included cars of all ages, and a wide variety of models.
However, getting fuel for those cars is going to be a big problem. Without electricity, gas pumps can’t work, refineries are shut down and even oil pumps come to a stop. So unless you have a private stock of gasoline, your car won’t be running long.
Most people expect to see airplanes falling out of the sky if there is ever an EMP; but I’m not so sure. Like cars, airplanes are nearly perfect Faraday Cages. New airplane designs are routinely tested for EMP survival, so it’s not like nobody is thinking about it. Airplanes are also hit rather often by lightning, which just passes over the skin of the aircraft and continues on, without causing any damage.
1. Solar Panels
Believe it or not, solar panels are much more robust than one would expect. While an EMP will cause some damage to any solar panels on people’s roofs, it will only reduce their efficiency by five to ten percent. So they will still produce electricity. As solar panels are normally designed with a buffer between their output and the needed voltage, the only time the difference will be noted is near dawn and dusk or at times when it is overcast.
This means that if you have solar panels at home, with a battery backup, you will still have a means of generating electricity and using the things you own which survive the EMP. However, the solar charge controller and voltage inverter that are used with your battery backup system will probably not survive. So you will need to have spares sitting in a Faraday Cage somewhere, which you can use to replace the ones you have hooked up.
What do you think will survive an EMP? Please, comment below!