Letter Re: Expedient Faraday Cage EMP Protection, and Satellite Radio in Emergency Alert Network?

Jim –
I have a a few questions for your readers regarding satellite radio (subscription-based services such as Sirius) if you would be kind enough to consider a posting.

But first, many thanks to E.H. and Sun Dog for their replies in regard to Faraday cages, their use, and construction. I think it particularly handy knowing that a microwave oven could make a pretty good Faraday cage, and now that I think about it, this makes perfect sense. For those of you that have built, or are in the process of building (or are considering building) hardened shelters, if you intend to include a microwave oven for cooking, so much the better. They way I look at it, anything that can serve two (or more) functions is great – especially where space is at a premium. I like microwave ovens for cooking as they are efficient enough to run off even a small solar system. For those of you just looking for a way to protect your valuable equipment from EMP, you might want to pick up an old non-functional unit from friend or as a “trash treasure” – after all, they need not be operable to work as a Faraday cage.

I have another question that I would like that I would like to throw out, this time regarding satellite radio. Is there an advantage to having satellite radio reception in a shelter environment? My thoughts are that even in a worst case scenario of protracted nuclear exchange, there will be radio and television stations that survive. But this does one little good if you are not in range, which in the case of AM, FM, or TV, is for all practical purposes, line of sight. On the other hand, a station broadcasting to a satellite. even from a remote (and therefore safe) location, could have the ability to reach out to vast areas. Does anyone know 1) the postulated result of nuclear war on the ability of satellites to function? 2) Is there a plan for the government to take over these airways (Satellite FM) in the case of an international incident to broadcast official reports? 3) Is there any obvious advantage of satellite radio over short wave, which will also be functional after such an exchange, albeit perhaps broadcasting from other areas of the world. Thanks, – REM

JWR Replies: Your suggestion about finding non-functional microwave ovens is a great idea. You just earned yourself a BFO (“Blinding flash of the obvious”) award. (A free autographed copy of my novel “Patriots”.) If you buy an oven that is a confirmed “DOA” be sure to snip off the power cord. That way there is no confusing it with a working oven, and you will also remove a potential “unintentional antenna” for EMP. If you live in a damp climate, seal up the interior (cooking compartment) vent holes with duct tape and throw in a large bag of silica gel desiccant with the radios. Rotate that once every couple of months, replacing it with a bag that has recently been dried out.

As for satellite radio: You’ve brought up a subject that is foreign to me, since I don;’t own one. However, I do know that XM is already set up for emergency broadcasting. It will soon be part of the U.S. Emergency Alert System (EAS)–the technological grandchild of the old U.S. CONELRAD system (circa 1953 to 1963). According to the latest Wikipedia entry: “Digital television, digital cable, XM Satellite Radio, Sirius Satellite Radio, Grendade, Worldspace, IBOC, DAB and digital radio broadcasters will be required to participate in EAS beginning December 31, 2006. DIRECTV, Dish Network, and Digital Broadcast Satellite will be required to participate beginning May 31, 2007. Video Dial Tone (OVS) will be required to participate beginning July 1, 2007.”

Perhaps some SurvivalBlog readers would like to chime in on the implications of these new broadcast technologies becoming part of the EAS.