EMP – How Will We Know?

September 28, 2015

in Negative Events

An ElectroMagnetic Pulse (EMP) has the potential to shut down all of our infrastructure and push our level of civilization back severely for many years. A High altitude EMP (HEMP) is the most likely form of EMP attack and it involves a single nuclear detonation at an altitude of around 250 miles. This means no shock wave, no sound, and no radiation fallout danger. It will exhibit a bright flash of light, but that is likely to go unnoticed by the majority of the population, specially if it is detonated during the daytime.

For most people, the first effect to be noticed will be a complete power failure. And since most of us have experienced short term power failures during severe storms, most of us will simply wait for the power to be restored without any great sense of alarm. The problem with this is that in the case of an EMP caused power failure, the power is not likely to be restored any time soon, maybe for several years. This can quickly become catastrophic as public water supplies run dry, food supplies are exhausted, transportation is at a standstill and there is no medical emergency help, or fire and police services.

It is critical to know whether a power failure is related to typical causes or an EMP. In a typical power failure, utility supplied power will not be available but any battery powered devices will continue to work normally. An EMP can destroy all fragile electronic circuits, so even battery powered devices are likely to fail. The simplest test is to see if a smart phone with a charged batter will work after the power has failed. If the scenario is a typical power failure, it should function normally. If an EMP has burned out the circuits in the phone, it won’t be functioning at all.

Another test would be to compare similar devices when one was protected by Faraday shielding and one was not. If the shielded device works normally and the unprotected device does not work, an EMP is the likely cause. A cheap pair of multiband radios could be used for this, but it’s important to realize that broadcast sources inside the EMP affected zone are not likely to be on the air. It’s best to have some understanding of what to expect after an EMP and confirm it by testing multiple devices. Only battery powered devices have any chance of operating during a power failure and if all of them fail to function in any way, there is a good chance they have been burned out by an EMP.



If it can be determined that a power failure is likely due to an EMP, the most important thing to do is to store as much water as possible. Fill all containers that can hold water, including tubs, bins, buckets, bottles and anything else. Most public water supplies use electric powered pumps to fill water towers located at high points, then allow gravity to supply water pressure to the surrounding community. After a power failure, the water pressure will remain as long as there is still water in the tower, but the tower will no longer be refilled by the electric pump. If the power does not come back on, the tower may continue to supply water for many hours, but not likely more than a day or so. Once the water is gone, dehydration becomes a deadly threat in three days or less.

Scenario: ElectroMagnetic Pulse (EMP) and Solar Flares
EMP Disaster Timeline
The Difference Between a Solar Flare and an EMP
CP: Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)
Faraday Protection
Making a Faraday Blanket
Microwave Ovens Are NOT Good Faraday Cages

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