Having an understanding of basic EMP protection and the reality of the threats we face is crucial if you want to live a prepared life.

As technology continues to evolve and tensions rise all over the world, the chance of an EMP attack happening increases significantly.

But the interesting thing is that EMP protection is one of the areas that preppers seem to overlook the most. It’s not like they’re wasting their time on other things, they just drastically underestimate the power an EMP attack can have.

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about surviving and protecting yourself from an EMP. The principles are simple, all you need to do is take action.

If You Want Gear, Not Info:

If you already know the fundamentals of EMP protection and just want to see which faraday bags we recommend for shielding important electronics from an attack, here you go:

Faraday Defense Heavy Duty EMP Bags

  • Market’s thickest specced faraday protective bags w/ heavy duty ziplock
  • 5 layer mil-spec electro-shielding bags feature 2 layers of metal & moisture barriers
  • 10pc kit: two 12×18 bags, three 8×10 bags, and five 5×7 bags
  • Made with tear-resistant aluminized polyester

What Is An EMP?

EMP stands for electromagnetic pulse. This is a quick burst of electromagnetic energy that can have several interesting (and unfortunate) effects.

An EMP can be caused by many different things. Among them are magnetic, electric, and radiated fields. Additionally, a conducted electric current can also be used to cause an EMP.

These occur naturally through a variety of phenomena, but can also be triggered by man-made devices as well. For the sake of this article, we’re going to be focusing on man-made EMPs.

While a burst of electromagnetic energy might sound like one of those “sciency things” that don’t have a tangible impact, we can assure you the opposite is true.

A significant emission of electromagnetic energy is enough to wreak havoc in modern society. That’s because it doesn’t play nicely with all the fancy electronics we use on a daily basis.

Small electromagnetic pulses that occur from lightning, static discharge, or motor starts are too small to be an issue for electrical power lines and grids & electronic equipment. However, when you ramp up the intensity it doesn’t take much for an EMP blast to become very disruptive.

A few of the most concerning causes are coronal mass ejections (solar storms & solar flares), pulses that occur due to a nuclear explosion (e.g. from a nuclear attack, tactical nuclear blast, from nuclear power plants), and devices that are created primarily for the sake of emitting electromagnetic pulses & perform EMP strikes. Most of these EMP threats are rather unlikely, but you never know. 

For example, in order to attest to a high-altitude nuclear weapon-produced EMP, it would mean that we’re actually in an all-out war with a major military power. That is an unlikely catastrophe in and of itself, and also must be prevented.

These are the main reasons why EMP protection is so important, and why we’re laying out your options in this guide. While you might write off a coronal mass ejection as something unlikely to happen, anything man-made is never out of the question.

As long as humans have tools to cause destruction, we’ll gladly use them.

How Much Damage Can They Cause?

The reason why EMP protection is so important is that it can shut down EVERYTHING that runs on electricity. From the little things like your computer and cell phone to major infrastructure that powers the financial and health sectors, it’s all on the table.

If your electronic device is not protected from an EMP attack it’s toast.

The ability to communicate, navigate, pay for things, or store food in the ways we’re used to will simply disappear.

Then when you consider the implications it can have on airpower it gets even scarier. We’re talking plane crashes and drones falling out of the sky.

Pretty much everything gets a hard reset.

This means large groups of desperate people with no clue how to take care of themselves. It will get very scary very fast.

That’s why understanding how to survive an EMP attack is not so much about dealing with the burst itself, it’s about being prepared to deal with the aftermath.

In a large-scale EMP attack, the affected area will become a dangerous place to be within a matter of hours (or less). When that happens you need to be prepared to go to your bug out location and have the skills and equipment to stay safe.

How Altitude Can Impact Their Impact

An interesting thing about EMPs is that more altitude will mean a larger affected area (within reason). This is different than a lot of other weapons where closer proximity leads to more damage.

While most nuclear explosions will cause so much damage to the area that the EMP goes unnoticed, a device specifically designed to create an electromagnetic pulse is different.

There’s a growing concern that a device like this in the wrong hands could be used to trigger mass hysteria in a populated urban area.

The greater the affected area, the more unsafe you are if you’re trying to survive the aftermath. You’ll have to cover more distance to get out of the mess which greatly increases your chances of unfriendly encounters & your needs for essential things to have on your person (see The Checklist below).

While there really isn’t much you can do when it comes to protecting yourself from an EMP that occurs at high altitudes, it’s useful to have an understanding of how they work. More knowledge is never a bad thing especially in a chaotic situation when everyone is trying to piece together what happened.

What Happens If A Large EMP Attack Occurs?

While a lot of the methods we list below will help you have more tools at your disposal to protect yourself from an EMP, there’s more to it.

If you’re prepared and have followed a basic EMP preparedness checklist, that’s great. You’re going to be far better off than a lot of other people in the affected area.

But that’s the problem. When everyone else doesn’t have electricity that will impact you in several ways. If you’re planning on using electronics to get somewhere safe, you’ll need to have a sustainable source of energy at your destination.

The desperation of the surrounding people will ramp up quickly as well. This means it will be important to be able to defend yourself and your family.

The government’s outlook on how society would fare when faced with a large-scale EMP attack is not good. In fact, the assumption is that most people would perish.

This is why an EMP protection game plan is nice to have, but general preparedness and survival skills need to be there too. An EMP attack of that magnitude could effectively turn the clock back hundreds of years. No more ordering your groceries from your phone!

EMP Protection

Tools You Can Use to Protect Against EMP

Now that we’ve outlined just what an EMP is and the impact it can have, it’s time to think about protection.

Having tools that can still use electricity is going to be a massive advantage. This means doing what you can to keep your electronics and appliances up and running should be a priority.

One of the most popular options for effective EMP protection is to encase your electronics in something a pulse can’t penetrate. Instead, the pulse will hit this “shield” and pass into the ground.

This can be used around electrical cables that provide power to other devices.

The trick is that these devices and equipment will also get affected by the EMP, so you’ll need to protect those as well.Fortunately, you can use something called a faraday bag/cage to encase and protect smaller devices.

Faraday Defense Heavy Duty EMP Bags

  • Market’s thickest specced faraday protective bags w/ heavy duty ziplock
  • 5 layer mil-spec electro-shielding bags feature 2 layers of metal & moisture barriers
  • 10pc kit: two 12×18 bags, three 8×10 bags, and five 5×7 bags
  • Made with tear-resistant aluminized polyester

This is an enclosure that can be used to keep electromagnetic fields from penetrating. For our purposes, think of this as a protective shield or box that you use to keep devices from being affected by EMPs.

Some people prefer to double up the layering to maximum EMP protection. This means placing one faraday cage inside another.

You can buy these, but it’s also possible to build them yourself. While they might seem like complex witchcraft so far, there really isn’t a lot to it.

Simply put, the generous use of aluminum foil can keep electromagnetic pulses at bay. You can wrap them around a bag or box to create a safe space to place electronics, or you can encase a specific device (like your phone) with aluminum foil.

Something interesting about the use of aluminum foil is that multiple layers of foil don’t actually do anything when it comes to its ability to protect something from an EMP. Actually, if you use multiple layers then you need to make sure there’s some form of non-conductive insulation between them (or else your attempts at extra security could backfire).

As long as you have that taken care of, doubling up on layers can be a good idea though. The reason for this is that foil is flimsy and easy to break. You want to make sure that a tiny hole isn’t the reason you can’t use an important electronic device.

There are other interesting products that you can use to protect your home and vehicles from an EMP attack. These are called EMP shields and they work in a different way than a faraday cage or foil shield. 

These work by shorting the overvoltage that comes in from the grid (which is another reason to be living off-grid). This happens extremely fast and can prevent an electromagnetic pulse from affecting whatever it’s connected to.

This can be a bit more costly than the prevention methods we listed earlier, but it’s extremely effective. If you want to take EMP protection seriously, that’s definitely something we would recommend.

The EMP Preparedness Checklist

There isn’t a proper prepper approach without a good emergency preparedness checklist, so why not prepare one to be used in case of a large-impact power outage or even a doomsday EMP event?

That’s what I set out to devise here—a short and sweet, but strong checklist that focuses on the important stuff you’ll need, and will help you and your loved ones in prepping for EMP survival. 

Composure

Your most essential tool. If you start panicking (and you will if you are unprepared) you will make any situation you are in a lot worse. Don’t have a meltdown. Instead, calm down, go through the shock, drink some water, reflect, and decide on a course of action. You might not have too much time to do this, so make sure to prepare as much as you can beforehand. And always remember: you can do it. Believe in yourself, put yourself in action, and I’ll see you on the other side.

Water

Essential in any grave circumstance, water is something you must carry with you or find a way to produce efficiently. Without water, you’ll only last at most for 3 days, if you are not exerting yourself that is. If you do push your body you’ll use up a lot more than that. A good rule of thumb is that a person needs about half to a gallon a day, depending on activity.

Food

Also essential in this kind of event. A normal person can last about 3 weeks without food. But don’t go thinking that you’ll be fully functioning during this time, especially if your body is not used to fasting for prolonged periods of time (something you can train as well). As soon as your body detects a long caloric intake it will go into so-called survival mode, where it tries to cut down on energy expenditure in order to save reserves you have ( glucose in your muscles and stored fat). Entering survival mode will bring your energy down and you’ll be able to only express a fraction of exertion that you normally would.
Being active for a long time without food will also deplete your mineral & vitamin reserves, which will mess up with your whole body—from getting brittle bones, through stymied liver and kidney function, to brain fog (and much more). 

Drugs and Medical Equipment

Antibiotics, glucose meters, first-aid kits, NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory agents e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen, paracetamol), multi-vitamins, and other supplements (to stave off mineral & vitamin depletion, see above) will all help you get through a situation where hospitals and pharmacies simply don’t work or can’t take any more patients. Pacemakers are unlikely to survive a strong EMP attack, unfortunately. Don’t forget your glasses too!

Energy

Gas for your car, batteries for your radio and flashlights, lighters for your lamps, portable solar chargers and solar panels for rechargeable batteries, propane for your portable stove, other power sources you can muster, the list goes on. Of course, you must focus on the most important things, and pack very efficiently and smartly. If you have a good backpack you’ll be able to take these things on your back. But if you have to carry them in a bag you’ll get shoulder pain very soon.

Personal Protection

I’m talking about things like a handgun, a shotgun, ammo, a hunting knife, binoculars, sturdy gloves, and the like. Some self-defense skills such as martial arts, knife-wielding, and shooting skills will also help immensely (and stave off would-be attackers that look for those with the look of a victim). People lose their minds for lesser things, imagine how much they would zombify in a large-scale EMP event and electronic disability. 

Common Tools

There’s always a screw to tighten or a backpack to sew. Stocking on tools such as screwdrivers, clamps, a hammer, aluminum, and plastic foil, and some insulation and duct tape would get you far in a world that suddenly remembered that things actually need to be repaired and built in a DIY manner. Here I’d also include lighting, such as headlamps, flashlights, oil lamps, and chemical light sources, as well as inverters to convert from one to another type of power. These are essential in any power outage and blackout. You’ll also need the basic know-how of using them, so start using them today.

Communication

True, the EMP probably would fry most of your communication equipment. That means that you won’t be able to visit your favorite social media apps, but fortunately, it doesn’t mean that all communication will die. A ham radio & an FM/AM/MW radio will give you the means to gather info on what’s going on and is likely to remain working with quite some abuse (if you took care to protect it from the EMP shock, that is). Some two-way walkie-talkies can also come in handy, especially ones that can be tuned to different frequencies, and especially if you use them silently in order to avoid disclosing your location through triangulation. 

Stocking up on the items above and finding a way to secure them can pay greatly in a large-scale EMP event and power grid collapse. Start stockpiling today. 

Also remember that many of these (e.g. food, medicine, water) have a shelf life and are short-term supplies, so it’s best to use your reserve in your daily life and resupply constantly. Don’t let that solar or nuclear EMP catch you off-guard.

Conclusion

EMP protection is something that all preppers should be thinking about. The severity of an attack is often seriously underestimated.

Fortunately, there are a handful of EMP protection options ranging from cheap to expensive that you can put into action right away. These will help any survivalist go through an EMP attack and get to a safe place.

You don’t want to be one of the many people without a tool at their disposal and an inability to put distance between themselves and the resulting chaos. Take this stuff seriously. You owe it to yourself and your family.

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