Electromagnetic Pulses

Hector Santana
6 min readJan 20, 2023

Should You Be Concerned

This image by NASA shows a solar flare being emitted from the sun. This event can cause an EMP on earth.

An electromagnetic pulse is a sudden burst of electromagnetic energy. Sudden being the key word. This raw surge of energy can disable power grids and electronic devices over a wide area. An EMP can occur naturally as part of a storm or artificially as in a state sponsored weapon. EMP’s can also be caused by solar flares, or a coronal mass ejection emitted from the sun. The electromagnetic field generated by powerful gamma rays reacts with the earth’s atmosphere creating power radiated waves that destroy electronics and power grids.

Should you be concerned? Sure, an EMP will affect you whether you are prepared or not, and the damage will be lasting. Scientists have been warning about the dangers of an EMP for some time and the risk only grows as time goes by. What can you do to be prepared? Well, you can begin by understanding its effects on the infrastructure and on everyday life. An EMP will take down power grids, cars with any kind of electronics, communication cell towers, radars, and public water systems. Yes, your home appliances, iPhone, and electronic devices will be rendered useless. Now that we understand the extent of the damage, we can begin to figure out how to be prepareded.

An EMP will cause extensive damage to municipal electrical systems and yes, to your home electronics.

To begin with, you can protect electronics by storing them in what is known as a faraday cage. It is simply a covered metal box or garbage can through which an electrical charge cannot pass through, instead it travels around the item inside. Thus, protecting it from a sudden burst of electromagnetic energy. The key word is “covered” by metal. Storing electronics such as ham radios, short wave radios, GPS devices, and other useful electronic gear is strongly advised. Of course, remember that everything else is going to be fried by the EMP, so don't store anything that will be dependent on a grid system. Ahah, GPS devices operate with satellites that are orbiting in space, so as long as the satellite is operable, they should work.

You can also look to use old communications systems that operate with a tube infrastructure. Similar to the old TV’s and radios. The old citizens band radio without a PC board will also come in handy. You can use it to stay in touch with family and friends. All vehicles, snowmobiles and quads included will be damaged. Newer vehicles will succumb to an EMP while older vehicles without an electronic control system will remain operable. Particularly helpful will be military vehicles as they are designed to operate in the theatre of war where an EMP is more likely to be used. However, these vehicles are loud and attract plenty of attention, keep in mind how you will defend the vehicle if someone comes for it. Just saying…

This old Ford Bronco will function after an EMP. But you can expect that others will want it, so be prepared.

The electrical grid will be down, particularly if you are close to ground zero of the detonation. so, make sure to store lanterns, batteries, flashlights, and even an old generator with no electronics, of course. If you can, store all items in a Faraday cage where they will be protected from the effects of an EMP. What about aircraft, will they be affected? Yes, aircraft will be useless due to all the avionics that will be destroyed by the initial charge. If it is located in a hangar, you may have better luck, given that most hangars are metal. Just don't leave the door or window open.

Can I use my boat? Boats with electronic systems will also be useless. Therefore, opt for a small boat with an outboard motor that you can store in a metal toolbox for protection from the initial EMP surge. Remember to store enough gas to get you where you want to go. Please use fuel stabilizer when you store gas for extended periods. Motors don’t like stale gas. An EMP will render much of the transportation system useless, therefore food delivery by truck will be hampered as will storage of that food in refrigerators at home and in your supermarkets. This is why storing food is so important and knowing how and what to store is crucial.

Storing food is not rocket science but it does require attention to detail. Rotating food and water in and out of service is paramount when storing these essentials. To begin with, canned foods, dried goods, and freeze- dried packaged foods are you best bet when preparing for the unexpected. They have a long shelf life and are often typical foods we use in our daily lives. But do some research, because temperature, humidity, light and insects can change your plans. Freeze dried foods are strongly recommended because moisture is removed during the process. Moisture is what causes deterioration.

Freeze dried commercial foods like Mountain House or Peak Refuel are staples in the camping and hiking community and are excellent choices for preparedness. Just add hot water, wait ten minutes and eat, it's that simple. The choices today are many compared to just ten years ago, and the flavors are getting better every day. Find which ones are right for you. That way you will be stressed about the situation not about your food. Yes, food has a way of making things better, even calamity.

Mountain House is one of the better tasting varieties of freeze-dried foods on the market.

Water may be hard to come by during an EMP outage because with the power down, municipal water systems will go down as well. But storing water is often difficult due to space limitations. A combination of stored water and a good water filtration system will be your best bet. Look for food grade canisters like jerry cans to store your water. There are also large rectangular plastic jugs available at camp stores like REI that are cheap and handy to store water. Of course, a good quality filter like a Ketadyn will enable you to filter water indefinitely, or at least until you replace the filter canister. Make sure you understand the water sources in your area, some are better than others. Knowing which rivers and streams are prone to pollution go a long way toward drinking clean water, yes even filtered water. Thats because some effluent is much harder to filter out than others. Know your rivers and you will know your water.

Many folks will simply “bug out” or leave the cities where chaos may reign. if you are one of these, think about how you will get there in light of the mayhem that may be taking place on the roads. Travel in groups if you can. Be prepared for anything because anything can and will happen. When you arrive assume someone else is there, as many will adopt remote homes that are not theirs. When The place is secured, remember that there may be other people on the move and your bug-out location may be right in the cross hairs of those who intend to do harm. Good people don't set out to hurt others, but desperate people do desperate things, so be doubly suspicious of approaching people. There is strength in numbers but consider your friends carefully.

With no power, limited food and water supply, you can assume the worse will come out of people. But with the benefit of time to think about your strategy you can survive the destruction and aftermath of an electromagnetic pulse. If you thought you did not have to be concerned, think again…

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Hector Santana

*Top Writer-Camping and Survival. I love to write about the great outdoors, survival and foreign policy. An avid outdoorsman and survival instructor.