Letter: Advice for Disabled Suburban Retiree Preppers

HJL and JWR, I’m seeking links or tips on how a 77-year-old disabled person can defend his property in case there’s TEOTWAWKI. My wife is 72. We live in a middle class subdivision 45 miles from Cleveland, Ohio. Because of physical disabilities (neuropathy, bad knees and legs) I am not very mobile. I use walker/cane most of the time. We are moderately prepared (food, guns, ammo, junk silver, etc. A retired Marine lives at the other end of the block but says he will bug out if SHTF. Nobody else on the block seems even to be aware of the dangers of a potential disaster (natural or man-made).We are one block from main artery, one mile from an interstate. Finally, where is the best place to shop for potassium iodide? Thank you for what you do on the blog.  We have been following you for a number of years. Blessings to all,  – Daryl in Ohio JWR Replies: It is probably best for you team up with someone who owns a rural property, somewhere nearby, but farther away from expected lines of drift for urban refugees.  To make this a viable retreat, you would pre-position the vast majority of your … Continue reading

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Letter: Using Military Ammo Cans for Faraday Shielding

Dear JWR: The use of military surplus ammo boxes as Faraday shields was recently mentioned again in SurvivalBlog.  But readers should be reminded that these cans will not work in the configuration where they are normally purchased.  This is because the boxes have a rubber gasket to seal the lid from water and that makes the lid not in [electrical] contact with the body of the can, thereby losing the [EMP] shield effect.  Regards, – Dave X. JWR Replies:  You are correct.  As mentioned previously in SurvivalBlog, the best approach is to remove the rubber gasket,  rough up the metal on both the top edge of the can lip and in the gasket groove (with sandpaper, a wire brush wheel, or a Dremel tool rotary stone) and replace the thickness of the gasket with stainless steel wool which is tacked in place with small globs of epoxy at two inch intervals.  (NOT a continuous seam of epoxy!)

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Letter Re: EMP Telltale

Hugh, Whenever the power goes out wherever I am, the first thing I do is see if my battery-operated watch is still working. I suspect one of these times, the screen will be blank or just chaos. – Sid, too near Niagara Falls HJL Comments: As technology advances, the gate sizes grow smaller making such electronics more susceptible, but at the same time manufacturers recognize that they are more susceptible to static electricity as well. As a result, manufacturers almost always include some basic protection in the on-board circuits. Add to that the concept that the amount of energy absorbed by these electronics is directly related to the amount of “antenna” on the circuit board and you end up with practically no idea whether your watch will survive or not. The circuits are so small that the antenna lengths are negligible (unless you happen to be plugged in charging the battery during an EMP event). It is actually anticipated that most modern cell phones will survive an EMP as long as they are not too close to ground zero and not connected to external wiring at that moment. Of course, a cell phone without the corresponding cell phone tower or … Continue reading

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Using EMP-Hardened HF Ham Radio to Send/Receive E-Mail During Nationwide Outage- Part 1, by PrepperDoc

There are multiple possible scenarios that may result in a regional an/or national combined loss of Internet connectivity and cell/telephone service, during which you would probably wish to maintain communications to loved ones and others. EMP may destroy routers, cell towers, and power sources; solar coronal mass ejection (CME) may remove power from all communications systems; cyber warfare may have similar outcomes. Travel in some of these circumstances will be difficult, or dangerous to impossible. Ham radio VHF/UHF repeaters may go down, due to power outages or EMP. Direct, point to point simplex VHF Ham radio will still work (even after an EMP, if hand-held radios were at all hardened or protected) over modest distances. Long range HF direct Ham radio communications will work (possibly after a delay of any EMP), presuming you had protection (if EMP) and have your own power. However, they will be of less usefulness if you haven’t established communications plans, frequencies, modes, and protocols with your loved ones. Without prior pre-arranged schedules, connecting directly with your intended recipient may take precious hours of transmissions, create immense interference to others, use precious power, and provide a very easy radio signature from your location. It would be … Continue reading

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Letter Re: Shielding Electronics From EMP

HJL, Another point on electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and Faraday cages is even something simple can be protective. There are 30 Gallon galvanized steel trash cans with lids (made in the USA!) available at my local farm and ranch store for $22. This makes for affordable and easy storage, and you can wrap things in common aluminum foil. Or even something like a steel cabinet or vault, but generally try to avoid gaps or spaces. It doesn’t have to be zero signal, but reduce the field strength enough to prevent damage. Vehicles have some protection for many years. In the early days of electronic ignition systems, truckers with CB linear amplifiers were causing police vehicles to stall. And driving near powerful radio towers also caused some glitches. The protection added since the early 1970s isn’t military grade, but realize if your vehicle doesn’t even hiccup when it is next to you or your neighbor’s Amateur Radio rig that is putting out a kilowatt of power, then it is likely to survive an EMP–at least where you aren’t close to ground zero. (And most of the American Redoubt isn’t likely to be a target of an EMP.) Also note that solar flares … Continue reading

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Two Letters Re: EMP Effect and Pacemakers

James: While case-by-case circumstances can effect the practicality of many alternatives, there are external pacing and monitoring options. The Zoll Company for example has just released a type of vest, worn similar to a brassiere with a fanny pack (battery pack). This device consistently performs cardiac monitoring and when a shockable rhythm presents itself the device does just that. More archaic methods would involve adhesive defibrillation or subcutaneous pacing patches and a cardiac monitor, while the monitors can be significantly expensive, older models are available at online auction sites. Both the aforementioned devices can be recharged, and more importantly, stored in a Faraday cage to protect them from an EMP. Neither would be as convenient as implanted devices but in a pinch could be just the thing to keep that ticker going.  – John, EMT-P. Dear Editor: You aren’t safe even when it is not an EMP. See this Vice article. Furthermore, no wireless devices are likely to be safe, including Simplisafe. Don’t trust anything wireless for anything important. Regards, – T.Z.

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Letter: EMP Effect and Pacemakers

Hugh, I have an implanted cardiac device (a pacemaker and defibrillator) and, after reading the letter about possible effects of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) on batteries, became curious as to how an EMP or maybe a strong solar flare could affect my device. I searched SurvivalBlog’s archives and saw that such an event could possibly damage the implanted cardiadefibrillator (ICD). Is there any firm evidence as to what may actually happen to an ICD or similar device in the human body and anything that can be done to counter the effects? It seems it will be a bleak future for the millions of people whose life depends on some form of technology in the event of a worse-case scenario, but, God willing, I still plan on having a long life. Thanks. – J. “Doc” Holiday Hugh Replies: Yes, this is a troubling issue. Integral pacemakers with defibrillators have leads from the unit (usually embedded in the upper chest) to the heart. In some cases, these leads can be up to a foot long. This may be enough of an antenna to cause the device to impacted by an EMP event, but I haven’t seen any studies done on this specific subject. … Continue reading

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Letter Re: EMP Question

Hugh, I’ve asked Matt Bracken this question, and he didn’t know. I’ve read all of your EMP-related data, but none of them answer the question of whether batteries, particularly the small D, C, AAA, AA types need to be shielded to protect them from EMP. All authors make much of electronics in devices but never mention separate stores of batteries or the dangers of batteries stored in electronic devices like radios, sights, et cetera. Your advice would be greatly appreciated. – S.D. Hugh Responds: There is much FUD in the online world (and in books) about EMP. Some of it is well deserved, and some of it is simply because of ignorance about how such forces work. There are two interrelated factors that are critical in determining how destructive an EMP would be towards electronics: Peak impulse energy Length of the reception antenna The peak impulse energy is determined by how large the EMP device is (how much energy it produces) and how close the device is to “ground zero”. The antenna is determined by the length of conductive material attached to the device you are wondering about (and to some extent, the orientation of the antenna in relation to … Continue reading

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Two Letters Re: The OTHER Electrical Grid Failure Problem

HJL, I just retired from 24 years of bouncing around the nuclear plants in the U.S. and abroad. For work planning, fire stop penetrations, and OSHA worker safety, every nuclear plant in the world has at least 20 electricians on-site 7/24. During a refueling outage, add 100 to that number. – K.G. o o o Hello Hugh, I read the comments about electricians at nuclear plants and the inability to have more than one or two there in an emergency situation. While I am not disputing that possibility, the entire situation should be told. Electricians are support staff at any nuclear station. I have been an electrician at a dual unit nuclear station for over eight years after years of being a contractor. We work for the Operations Department, which is there 24/7/365, and they are required per NRC Tech Specs to maintain minimum staffing at all times. So there are roughly 22-24 of these highly-trained operators always on site. Most of these operators were Navy Nuclear in charge of nuclear-powered submarines and some were surface as well. About the fours hours mark, that is not entirely accurate. It is a variable timeframe, depending on many factors. First, assuming that … Continue reading

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Letter Re: The OTHER Electrical Grid Failure Problem

Hugh, Four hundred forty nuclear reactors are operating worldwide, representing about 14 percent of global electricity generation. Sixty power plants are under construction, and many older plants slated to be decommissioned may be given new operating licenses. Which country has the greatest number of nuclear reactors (want to guess)? We do; in the U.S. there are approximately 100 plants currently operating. Now imagine a map of the United States, taking a ruler and drawing a straight line from the northern border with Canada, which would head south through the edge of Minnesota, continue through the very edge of western Iowa. the very eastern portion of Kansas, eastern third of Oklahoma, with the southern portion of the line entering the Gulf just west of Houston. We now have a east and west designated portion of the U.S. The western designated portion contains approximately 15 operating reactor sites with one or more reactors. The eastern designated portion of the U.S. contain the balance of approx 85 operating reactors. This is the situation, as I thought about this and wondered where can a person live and be relatively safe from nuclear fallout from a total power failure caused by nature or man-made catastrophe … Continue reading

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Surviving EMP: Suburban Circle Garden- Part 2, by Northwest Native Elder

Step 3: Buy the best of plants for surviving I have listed the vegetables below that I have planted and that have proven successful for me. Also, I have ordered the following plants from 1-5 with #1 needing the most sun and #5 needing the least sun. They will all benefit from the most sunlight they can get, but tomatoes need full sun and heat. It is a short list but an important one. These are the plants that you, as an inexperienced gardener, will have the best chance at growing, storing, and surviving on. You may have to supplement your diet with animal protein of some kind, but remember “any food is better than no food”. When it is time to buy seeds, you may want to think about buying enough for your neighbors who surround you. This is inexpensive insurance to protect your own garden. If they plant their own garden then it is that much more food for everyone. If they do not want to grow food, then they will eventually have to steal from someone. Therefore, most will likely not be alive at harvest time anyway. (This is a time you may also want to study … Continue reading

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Surviving EMP: Suburban Circle Garden- Part 1, by Northwest Native Elder

Being descendants of Native Americans and Swiss/German immigrants, my family has survived and thrived off our land for generations. We hunt and gather an abundance of local food– venison, salmon, elk, smelt , crab, clams, acorns, huckleberries, and seaweed– from the Redwood Forests, Wild Rivers, and Mighty Pacific Ocean, and we cultivate our “civilized” gardens and orchards, grown in the manner brought by our European ancestors. Having the best of both worlds so to speak, we have never really experienced a lack of food in our area. The art of gathering, growing, and preserving food for winter has always been the top priority for us. Preparing for disasters has also been a full-time job around our home, and believe me where I live in the Pacific Northwest there are plenty of disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, wildfires, drought, economic collapse, foreign invasion, and/or EMP to prepare for. While all these can strike quickly with little or no warning, only the EMP can cause major world-wide or national damage to civilization as we know it. Unlike a regional disaster, this will effect a large area with no one really left to help you because of a major societal collapse. If … Continue reading

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