EMP 101: Part I

What You Need to Know About the Likelihood of an EMP Attack on the U.S.
A Multi-Part Preparedness Series

emp-attack-one-second-afterI recently finished reading two GREAT books, back to back, that are fictional scenarios about an EMP (electro magnetic pulse) attack on the U.S. Both books are very well written, extremely realistic, and I had a hard time putting them down. The first one (still my all time favorite) was “Alas, Babylon” by Pat Frank. The second, as recommended by many readers on this site was “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen.

(Warning, occasional language in this book qualifies it as “rated PG-13”) Both authors are so expert in their fields of knowledge on the matters which they write, that I feel the books are more a prediction of things to come, rather than a work of fiction. Out of all of the possible scenarios of a man-made crisis, the most likely to occur against the U.S. is an EMP attack. However, what disturbed me so greatly is the majority of the pain and suffering in either of the books could have been substantially negated with the addition of a very legitimate reality in my world—a years supply of emergency food, water, and other items.

For those of you who may not be aware, the U.S. has received countless amounts of intelligence that an EMP attack is very likely. (Google EMP attack + U.S.) More recently, China has even admitted to preparing an EMP to “use on its enemies.” It’s no surprise that N. Korea has been playing with nukes lately. And contrary to the naïve understanding of many Americans, the Soviets have also been dedicating a great deal of their resources towards the perfection of nuclear attacks. In all actuality, an EMP attack could be done in such a way that we wouldn’t necessarily have any way of knowing WHO launched the attack against us (as accurately portrayed in Forstchen’s book).

About 8 years ago an officially commissioned report was released about the potential catastrophic consequences of an EMP attack over the U.S.  Newt Gingrich specifically stated in response to this report, “this is not idle speculation but taken from the consensus finding of nine distinguished American scientists who authored the "Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack.” Unfortunately, since the report was issued on the very same day as the 9/11 Commissions Report, it went largely unheeded and unnoticed by the press.

(Author’s note: Please don’t pommel me with requests for the references I’ve researched on these statements. I regularly use hard-copy books, library micro-fiche records, internet, personal interviews and read several newspapers weekly. On a cursory view, these statements are verifiable in newspapers abundantly available on the internet. My job as a writer is to condense information so that it’s easily digestible. If you doubt the veracity of what I write, then there is essentially nothing you can rely on in the content I provide.)

emp-attack-area-affectedAn EMP attack is implemented by launching a nuclear bomb high in the earth’s atmosphere (greater than 25 miles). The detonation causes gamma rays to interact with air molecules to produce positive ions while at the same time recoiling electrons. What ultimately happens is that the positive ions overtake the electrons and as such, when they encounter the earth’s magnetic field it radiates an instantaneous electromagnetic pulse. The pulse essentially fries all electrical devices, including batteries. This same kind of reaction is possible with small solar flares. The pulse is intense but it is not visible and it does no damage to the human body. One of these EMP strikes strategically launched over Kansas could obliterate electrical operations throughout the entire U.S.

So why is an EMP attack more viable than an all out war or a nuclear bomb attack? Well it boils down to dollars and conquering. Why spends billions of dollars and countless lives on fighting an all out war when you can launch an EMP attack, wait it out for several months, and then come in and clean up the few that survived? For only a few thousand dollars each, 3 SCUD missiles can be launched off of a ship in the middle of the waters off of our coast, high up into the atmosphere. It’s not like we’d see “incoming SCUDs”. If we’re lucky we’ll simply see something launched into space. Several billions of dollars can be saved for any enemy when such a strategy is used. With this strategy countless numbers of soldiers, death camps, and an arsenal of bullets is not necessary. Human nature and our reliance on Prozac and technology will easily kill off the weak in a matter of days. Additionally, while the land of the U.S. is rich in resources, access to those resources is impeded if there is no population to harvest them. So using an EMP attack vs. something more deadly that would contaminate the very land an enemy wishes to possess is not in their best strategic interest either. Considering that an EMP attack would make us helpless to communicate or travel effectively, all an enemy has to do is wipe out our electricity, wait several months, and watch how the effects of such an attack kill off the weak, weaken the spirits of the strong, and then come and clean up what’s left. Bottom line, it’s less expensive and less messy for our nation’s enemies to use an EMP attack on us than anything else. Mother Nature and the ugly side of human nature is the ally of our enemy and will work in concert successfully with such an attack. The key to any successful attack is knowing your enemy’s vulnerability. Clearly, technology is our Achilles heel here in the U.S. and it would take very little money and effort to wipe us out.

If an EMP attack were launched against the Philippines, it would make a very small impact comparatively. The Filipinos are used to sporadic technology availability, living off of what they produce, minimal medical access, and a scarcity of food and good drinking water. Heck, they haven’t even progressed to doing their laundry on a washboard yet. They’re still pounding their clothes against rocks in the rivers. But the U.S.? We are a nation of overly medicated, out of shape, pampered, spoiled and indulgent citizens. Don’t underestimate the destruction that can be had simply by the emotional impact of such an attack on the generation of the “entitlement mentality.”

Photo c/o Mark Lennihan / AP file

Photo c/o Mark Lennihan / AP file

So, what does all of this mean to you? It means that you need to begin seeing your world differently—NOW. While I will be writing a multi-part series on an EMP attack to shed some light on various aspects of your survival, it’s important that you begin NOW to look around you and be aware. What do you currently rely on that is operated by electricity that you would have NO ability to use after an EMP? Cooking. Driving. Medical? Communications? Whatever the answer is you need to prepare yourself mentally and physically to battle such instances. Some scenarios may be trivial ones of inconvenience. Yet some may be life or death—all because the power goes out indefinitely.

As I said in the beginning, the only problem I had with these stories is that the suffering of people portrayed on the pages was not realistic in MY world. A shortage of food, pain relievers, clothing, bedding, personal hygiene items, water, heat, light, and knowledge is NOT going to happen in my home. I’m prepared specifically for such a realistic situation. Ask yourself, are you? Then again, the authors most likely wouldn’t have sold a single book had they focused on how a prepared person would encounter a disaster vs. the majority of the U.S. population. Guess that would be a pretty boring storing only pertinent for the Discovery Channel. :)

EMP 101 Series

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I think you bring up an interesting point here that along with our food/water/etc preparations, we need to be preparing our bodies as well. Get of our bums and get in shape, straighten out the junk we eat, so forth.

EMP's are my personal terror - I specifically pray that if this ever happens, God will have me emotionally prepared to deal with it, as well as materially.

Thanks Steve for your comments. I'll actually be addressing homemade Faraday cages in this series. The communication and personal computer records are critical for storage in those!
The only snag I see with your scenario is hopes that a hospital would be available to do a surgery. Keep in mind that even generators get burned out with an EMP. Also, hospitals will be in a "triage" mindset at that point. In their minds, as horrible as it sounds, it indeed will be a mindset to take care of the fit who can "contribute" to society. While skills will not be affected, mind set and rational human thought will. This is why I stated that their best hope is if we get some warning and they are underground a bit. Thanks again for your comments!

100 mph is good so long as you don't get burned out and stop. :-) Emergency preparedness is the ONLY reason why I ever work out. (I personally loathe it)

I agree that the chances are slim, but you have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

The generators in “One Second After" did not work because they were large electronically controlled devices. Small generators that do not have electronics should still work, just like the Edsel in the book. Having a working 6000 watt generator (costs about $500.) to trade to a local hospital should improve their triage level. Gotta keep prepping and keep hoping - I'd never give up on my daughter.

I agree with you Steve. Good saying also "prepare for the worst and hope for the best." I wish more folks thought that way.
Unfortunately many generators that are being sold on the internet and at hardware stores are not sufficiently hardened for an EMP attack. Of course rarely does a buyer get educated on such prior to buying. Doing a little research is critical if you're going to spend the money.
Keep on keeping on!!!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Chris Stewart series...so much so I bought a 2nd set so that I could loan it out to family and friends. :-)

I've recently been reading that series as well. I've been trying to figure out how to protect some of the important electrical stuff, so I am glad to hear about Faraday cages and how easily accessible they are. Now I have a better idea of why we've been encouraged to have a year's supply of food.

Janet, just remember one step at a time. Also, may I recommend that you look into HIGH quality nutritional programs that are out there? (i.e. Reliv) The reason being is that while you may not be able to store a years supply of meds, or even much less, you may be able to dramatically improve your health. I've had a lot of "emergency preparedness" folks look at that company specifically for that reason, especially with heart and insulin problems. I don't have a contact for you though--sorry. Keep up the GREAT work and keep moving forward step by step. Take Care!

Believer, it's VERY frustrating to realize that the "hardening" of our military and communication defenses have been ignored. The last two presidents have downplayed the necessity of such, in spite of the stellar report that was commissioned. Thus I have no intention of waiting for them to "get with the program" rather I intend to take preparedness matters into my own hands. I highly recommend you read Alas, Babylon. It's a classic and is easily found at the library.
I'd all but make a heavy bet that an EMP will happen to us.

Indeed that is a bit disturbing, but in my opinion it underscores the overall state of a lack of readiness that we as a nation are in at present. The military has "hardened" some things in anticipation of an EMP, however, they have pulled the reigns back on that program dramatically as of late.

You are correct. There are SOME Filipinos who live a very wealthy life. However, they are indeed a rarity. I lived all over the Philippines and wealth is highly unusual there.
Am I sick in the head to actually say I welcome the "calm after the storm" of an EMP attack? I feel like we'll get a little bit of a do-over in many ways. Yes, I'm a bit deranged. I know.

Why thank you VERY much. I'm bare feet as I write this!

Amber, while I don't claim to be a psychologist or any such expert, I personally believe that if there is a "disaster" that is so dark and frightening to us, that we DO need to explore it so that it doesn't defeat us in any way. Personally, I accomplish that by "dipping my toe in the water" by reading some fictional books initially, and then progress from there.

Question Kellene..My mom has a pacemaker and daughter a defibrillator, I could look it up (and will later as I do research), but do you know what happens in a EMP?

Yes I agree, fiction is a great way of adjusting one's mentality. However I have to be cautious not to do too much at once... You've been thinking this way for years and I'm only just starting, hahaha... I can't handle TOO much all at once.

On the plus side, my big water barrels are arriving tomorrow! :-)

Kelsmom, Dang, why do I have to be the bad guy who tells you this?! I'm sorry to say this, but an EMP attack would disable both instruments unless your mom and daughter were actually suitably underground when the attack took place.

I just finished reading One Second After and it really does make you want to get going on the prepping. I keep adding things to my list of items to buy and stock up on. It's sometimes overwhelming to think about all that needs to be done, thought out and made ready. I was shocked at how people behave in the book. YOu would think that everyone would want to work together instead of hurting, killing, stealing, etc. I am on an insulin pump and would have to go back to injections. I am stocking up on insulin and hopefully would be able to make it last as long as possible. My hubby takes heart medication and we are trying to stay ahead on ordering that also. We take so many things for granted. Since I started doing research on all this, including all kinds of disasters, it makes me a lot more aware of the modern conveniences. I am trying to read all I can on canning, gardening, etc., essentially trying to learn how people a hundred years ago lived and survived. So much to do, so little time I fear.

It will come along just fine. I get a bit excited, you're right. Take it easy, slow and sure. *wink*

Thanks Kellene. I've already started on some supplements, am losing weight, moving more (limited mobility because of back problems), and know that as I lose more weight the back pain will lessen somewhat. I'm trying to get into shape physically and emotionally. The diabetes will get better with weight loss also. Hubby is doing what he can to keep his health together too. He's a fireman and just won't slow down, even after a quadruple bypass in 2000 that didn't take. We're 55 and slowing down a little now, and wanting to do all we can to keep our health in check. God Bless!

Use a Faraday Cage to protect anything that you have need that is electrical/computerized that you do not want destroyed by EMP.

A Faraday Cage is a container that is entirely enlosed in metal, i.e. military style metal ammo boxes, galvinised trashcan with tight fitting lid, etc.

Things to store in a Faraday Cage include:

Auto parts that have computer chips to replace the ones burnt out on your car

Solar panels with converters, solar battery chargers, etc.

Laptop or Notebook that can run on solar panels and/or cigarette lighter.

Computerized/Electrical medical devices that are necessary for survival. It is possible that Kelsomom could find an understanding doctor who could sell her the appropriate defibrilator and pacemaker to be set aside in a Faraday cage. Then post EMP, immediately have surgery to replace them. Doctors/surgeons skills will not be effected by EMP, and most hospitals will have generators running for a few days until the gasoline runs out.

Walkie Talkies, short wave radios, ham radios, and other communication devices. Not cell phones, they'll be useless.

Small thumbdrives or harddrives with copies of all your important documents, medical records, and all your family pictures. That way if you have to evacuate after the EMP, you can carry your personal and family history with you in a small package. When the world recovers, you'll be able to re-establish yourself.

Kellene -- your article is spot on. My parents and I were preppers before reading One Second After -- but after reading it, now we are prepping at 100mph. I just hope I can get myself physically strong enough to hike a week to get home to my family if this happens.

Thank you Kellene for this last post. Have you read the 6 vol. series "The Great and the Terrible" by Chris Stewart? (LDS bookstores) - US disabled by an EMP attack.
Also, thanks to Steve for input and the Faraday cage. Going out to buy me a galvanized garbage can.

Thank you for posting this. I first heard of an EMP attack while reading the fictional series, "The Great and the Terrible", by Chris Stewart. After that I looked up the article by Senator Jon Kyl, along with other articles. I thought then, and I think now, that it is the most logical way to bring down the U.S. It would cause untold suffering to millions and millions of people. I tried talking to people who would know about such things, and none of them thought it was very likely. It was frustrating. I still think that it could be a likely scenario from the outside. The current politcal and financial situation on the inside may bring us down first, but an EMP attack would be the death nail.

Thanks for this series. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I appreciate that you give solutions as well as the threat. I think this one may be harder to prep for than just buying a pressure cooker:) I'll also order the books you mentioned. As you know, we live in the heart of the city. If you know any resources that address living in densely populated urban areas after an EMP, please share.

Thank you so much for taking the time to research & put out this information. You write so well. May God bless your socks off! I now have a notebook with notes/ideas from Kellene.

The more you involve yourself and understand the reasons behind being prepared, the more this world opens up to you.
Keep learning and you can't go wrong

Thanks for the post! Looking forward to reading the next parts. Just a few things I wanted to say:

Readers can find the Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack's website @ http://www.empcommission.org/ and download their reports as PDFs from there.

"[...]Filipinos are used to sporadic technology availability [...] Heck, they haven’t even progressed to doing their laundry on a washboard yet. They’re still pounding their clothes against rocks in the rivers."

You may want to share that with the many Filipinos I've had the luxury to game with via the Internet. Some of whom live quite a bit more comfortably than I.

But I feel the point you making still stands and its even something I feel I need to focus on more. A lot of things will change without all the electronics around. Maybe when things calm down it may be for the better.

I asked my son about EMP attacks. He just retired from the Navy. He was in EOD, (Exposives Ordinance Disposal). He was highly trained in explosives and bombs, including nuclear. He said they were not taught anything about EMP. (Can you believe that?) But he does know what it is because he has read up on it a little on his own. He said that the Chinese are trying to develope a way to deliver an EMP attack without a nuclear warhead. He doesn't know anything about the technology. I think that is even more scary----first of all to bypass the bomb part, and also to know that they are actively working on it. This may be the way the cleansing will take place--just a thought there, but I do think it fits.

WOW! What a great site full of good info. I found your site after proof reading a manuscript my neighbor wrote. It is about the Mayan Calender and her ideas about 21 December 2012. It got me thinking about how UNPREPARED myself, family, and community were. You have given me some great insight and ideas. I will be sharing your advise and site with others. THANK YOU!

How do I get to part III on Medical? The link is the same as part IV.
Great articles.

Is there any way to galvanize a garage?

"galvanize" is probably the wrong way to go about that. If you're going to go to that effort, you're probably better off lining it all with fine mesh wire. But it's a bit unrealistic on that scale because you don't want any gaps in the looping--a tough task on such a large scale. I presume the reason why you may ask this is so that you can protect your vehicles. But that would be a lot of effort because it would be a whole lot of work for very little in return. A) how would you fuel it when you can't pump gas from the ground? B) You'd be one of the few cars roaming around thus posing a security risk, perhaps. C) You'd then have to ensure that you appropriate spare parts to repair it as time went along. Thus I think you may be better off using energy and resources for other aspects of preparedness.

I stumbled across your site a couple of months ago and I've been "preparing" ever since. Great information--I'm sharing t with my group. I live on the Mississippi Coast and I'm concerned about our temps ruining the food that I'm storing. We're below sea level so cool cellars aren't an option. That also means we can't bury a Faraday Cage. Can you advise?

God Bless!

You don't need to bury a Faraday cage. It simply needs to be grounded. You can do this in your garage.
Under a bed or in a closet is usually the coolest place in a home that doesn't have a basement. You can store foods there. I also store some of mine behind my sofa, near the A/C vent as well. Don't worry. Preparedness isn't just for those with basements. :-)

Unless I’ve missed something by reading too quickly, I don’t think my question has been addressed, yet.
We live in the northeast of England, near a nuclear power plant. I would imagine that, during an EMP, the cooling circuitry would be affected, making our area another Chernobyl or TMI. So, my question is an obvious one. How long would we have to get far enough away to be reasonably safe, in the event of the imminent meltdown?

Thanks for the quick response! I had a chance after Katrina to test my "survival skills." Ours is the only house on the street with a gas stove so I was able to cook and I even did laundry while without power or running water for 2 weeks. That experience, current events and just plain common sense, calls me to be ready for anything! God's on our side...He promises in Isaiah Chapter 49--He WILL not forget us! I wish you could come to MS to speak to our group. God bless you and your message!


Greetings. First, let me say that you have a terrific site here with tons of great information. Thanks, I have save it for much future reference.

Second, I very much enjoyed your information on EMPs and "Faraday Cages." On the subject of Faraday cages perhaps you can answer an additional question(s) I have? Will a Faraday cage block radio transmissions emanating from within as well as out? I am trying to find a way to block involuntary radio signals (900 MHz) from being transmitted from the so-called "smart" electrical meter that I fear will be installed at my residence over my most vehement objections, of course. Any information you have with respect to this application would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Sorry it took me a bit to get around to answering this.
A faraday cage effectively shuts off RF communications between the "inside"
and "outside" world, with four caveats.
1. The cage must be correctly grounded
2. The "inside" components must be insulated from the case itself 3. No antennae, wiring, etc, can link between the inside and outside world of the cage (complete isolation of interior from exterior components) 4. The cage shielding must be appropriate for the signal you are trying to isolate. Usually a small mesh is used, which will effectively isolate all RF. If chicken coop wire were used, let's say, then only lower frequencies would be attenuated (higher frequencies like 900MHz would pass right through). This has to do with the wavelength of the frequency and the size of the holes in the mesh. (A fine mesh or solid shielding are usually used so this isn't generally an issue.)

Because of #3, a faraday cage will probably not work for isolating your 900MHz smart meter because you will most likely not be able to isolate the 900MHz transmitter from power or its interaction with your actual electrical lines.

In other words, everything in the faraday cage must have its own power source (not be plugged into any exterior outlet, can not be connected to any exterior wiring (the lines that I assume it would be "monitoring"), and can not have an antenna sticking out from the faraday cage.
If you can effectively isolate it completely within the cage then the cage will certainly prevent any 900MHz radiation from escaping the cage, thus making the transmitter silent.

I hope I've answered your question.

Unless I've missed something by reading too quickly, I don't think my question has been addressed, yet.
We live in the northeast of England, near a nuclear power plant. I would imagine that, during an EMP, the cooling circuitry would be affected, making our area another Chernobyl or TMI. So, my question is an obvious one. How long would we have to get far enough away to be reasonably safe, in the event of the imminent meltdown?

I could have been easily believed every single word you say until I read this part "If an EMP attack were launched against the Philippines, it would make a very small impact comparatively. The Filipinos are used to sporadic technology availability, living off of what they produce, minimal medical access, and a scarcity of food and good drinking water. Heck, they haven’t even progressed to doing their laundry on a washboard yet. They’re still pounding their clothes against rocks in the rivers."

You claim to have read a number of books yet basic research about the Philippines was poorly done. It pays to do THOROUGH research. Our country has the most number of text messages sent worldwide. We are more advanced when it comes to the latest mobile phone models, laptops, etc some citizens from First world nations have low-end mobile phones.

It's just sad that you portrayed my country as severely under developed. FYI, almost 90% of the call centers of the major companies in US are outsourced in my country. It would be nice if you have been here before you write something that is biased and unfounded. Hopefully, you can make necessary changes with the claims that you made regarding the Philippines.

Sirenpeaks, thank you for your critique of my article. Let me ask you something...does living out in the barangays for a year and a half constitute "thorough research"? Because that's exactly what I did. I also have literally hundreds of friends that I keep in constant contact with.

Kind of funny that you're hanging your hat on the communications in the Philippines considering that two of my friends take forever to get back to me via e-mail because they don't have consistent internet access or electricity sufficient to communicate with me regularly. And they live in Manilla--one of the more advanced cities in terms of conveniences.

Also, did you note the word "comparatively?" Comparatively in this instance means when compared to other nations--particularly developed nations. While I've been tickled pink to see "my second homeland" develop through the ages, I don't think that mobile service is the sole qualifier for technological advances. When ever barangay in the Philippines can go an entire month without a "brown out", and when every home has a electric stove, washer and dryer, and air conditioning, then I think you're comment would have validity.

Most importantly, I love the Philippine people and always will. But that's not to say that I'm going to claim that they are anywhere near as reliant on electricity as the U.K., the U.S., Japan, and Canada are. It's so sad to see that you chose to take offense with the facts as they were portrayed in my accurate article.

I'm glad that you're so positive that the shortage of things aren't going to happen in your home. It's really a great way to think and it's also great that you sound prepared for it. To be 100% honest, I've only known about EMP for a few weeks. So I'm really no expert. But when EMP came to my attention, I kindof freaked out. So I began to read up on it online, researching different blogs, things on the internet, etc. I ended up coming across this really great Radio Blog by EMPact America. They hold a radio show every Wednesday online. They always have new guests every week. This week they actually have a returning guest. Her name is Clare Lopez. She's been a Visiting Researcher and guest lecturer on counterterrorism, national defense, and international relations. She's also done so much more. I really recommend checking this radio blog online out. The link for tomorrow's show is: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/empact-radio/2011/06/15/pvp53-clare-lopez-o... ---- Good luck guys:)

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