Maybe you, like many, have questions about an EMP. As a friendly, and hopefully a pleasing feature, this article is being edited as it is being typed so as to be read as though it were a friendly two-person, social conversation.
The Sit-Rep Situation That Initiated Research
The sit-rep situation would necessarily be two good friends talking about a recent article concerned about a potential EMP situation caused by a strong ego-driven leader of a small Asian nation with an attitude and an ego to match. We will call our two friends Bob and Ray. Actually Bob (Old Bobbert ), that’s me, did call his friend Ray about the Texas flooding disaster. Ray lives in Texas about seventy-five miles from Houston, and they are safely outside the coastal flood area. We did talk about the possibility of a sneak EMP attack for about forty-five exciting minutes. We have similar backgrounds with a strong leaning towards preparedness and security measures concerning our families and homes. Friends for 40+ years, we had no idea that we knew so little about a real situation that could be so serious, so deadly, and may be very soon.
Embarrassing It Took So Long
It was embarrassing to say the least; he’s eighty, and I’m seventy-six. We should have known better, long ago. Thus, we now have this article for our families and for you. That call prompted serious research so Bobbert could have current and up-to-date accurate information for his wife and a first edition copy of this article for Ray and his wife in Texas.
And, yes, we do know about the very old dumb jokes about the ancient radio comedy show named “Bob and Ray”. We are still in full agreement; they have never been funny!
We defined six primary questions about EMP we wanted to answer for our families. They are as follows:
- What is an EMP?
- What causes an EMP?
- Why should I worry about an EMP?
- Will an EMP harm people?
- What will an EMP do to my cars?
- How do I protect myself from an EMP?
What is an EMP?
An EMP is an explosive incident, creating a destructive energy wave (a type of radio wave) that seeks out unshielded computer chips for damage. An EMP is a short-hand nickname for an “Electro Magnetic Pulse” that will try to attack computer chips most everywhere. That is unless they are protected by “Faraday” shielding. We’ll get to that protection item later.
What causes an EMP?
As a solid generality, an EMP event is generated by one of two sources– the sun or an Air Burst Nuclear Blast. An EMP generated by a solar incident will not occur instantly. In most cases, there may be a small warning period. It will be devastating, and there may be no way to stop it. We have barely missed a few in recent years.
Moving on to the more likely source, we will look at the possibly, perhaps the probability of a sneak attack overhead at many thousands of feet above us. However, an air burst nuclear device may possibly allow, at best, a very small warning period. We still have NORAD looking after our safety. It may be a deliberate sneak attack from a simple tramp freighter ship with a well hidden nuclear armed rocket launch ability.
Why should I worry about an EMP?
There is a high likelihood that a foolish enemy force may utilize a triple tramp freighter launch offense, so as to maximize the possible destructive effects and to provide a success, even though one or more rockets may fail to complete their mission. We still have NORAD looking after our safety.
An EMP is a weapon designed to cause an instant failure of the computer chips now utilized in nearly every appliance, every automobile, every banking transaction, every usage of credit or debit cards, operation of traffic signals, operation of hospital equipment and sundry medical devices.
Please note the repeated word “may”. It may all be a total bust. Our cell phones may fail. The Internet may fail. Home oxygen services may fail. Most likely the primary target agenda will be to destroy the power grid system, which in turn may shut down many aspects of our daily lives. Elevators may fail and plummet to a ground floor fatal crash. May, may, may…
We are fully dependent on the safe and successful silent computer chip operation in nearly every aspect of our life. If the power grid system goes down, and it may actually fail, our entire way of life may also go down.
Will the EMP harm people?
It’s an excellent question to ask about the harm an EMP could cause people and it has a simple short answer. No, not many people will be harmed, and the harm is not likely to be permanent. That answer is always misleading, even though it is true and accurate.
Let’s look at some population ratios. If only a single person in every 10,000 in a national population of three hundred million dies as a result of the EMP, there would be 30,000 fatalities. One in every 5,000 would be 60,000 fatalities, and that’s just in the first hour or so.
There is a possibility that some digital hearing enhancement devices may be effected, but no one is sure at this time. There are some at higher risk of being harmed than others. There are many who utilize prosthetic limbs, which have chip control units; these may fail. Cars traveling at high speeds may experience engine failure resulting in multi-car accidents and possibly serious injuries and even possible deaths.
Air liners engine failures, coupled with communication and radar failures, may also cause an exhausting series of fatal mid-air crash events nationwide. Visualize Boston’s very busy Logan airport without radio communications with the many pilots flying into and from the airport. Those flights depend on constant accurate radar operations to prevent multi-plane collisions. Planes coming into Logan from many cities west of the East coast fly past the airport and go out to the open sea and then turn back and approach the end of the runway only a few feet above the Atlantic. The runway was built on top of a long, wide jetty created in the bay. Some passengers have never made a second flight into Logan, ever. In the mid seventies this writer came into Logan on thirty-two Monday morning red-eye flights within just eighteen months. I was commuting from our home in Ohio. After a while I slept through the landings. I trusted those pilots, as I had to. For them, and for myself, radar was a life-preserving device that those Red Eye flight pilots needed. There were no chips in those days.
What will an EMP do to my cars?
We really do not know exactly how an EMP will affect cars. No one can be sure. “Be safe and not sorry” is the necessity-driven game plan.
This question is very important. We are a mobile population, and we need our wheels. I fully expected to go to the Internet search engine and find that there is no good news about cars and EMPs. I assumed that I had best go buy an old guy’s three-wheel bike.
It’s not so, any way, no how, and not even close to the real findings on cars and EMPs. The very best way for me to share with you the terrific good news I found is to give you the pertinent findings of the testing cars and the EMP. Yes, it’s a bit long but still wonderful. Bobbert says, “Wow, all good news!
The following quote is the report on the EMP Commission testing of vehicles from pages 115-116 of the EMP Commission Critical National Infrastructures Report:
The potential EMP vulnerability of automobiles derives from the use of built-in electronics that support multiple automotive functions. Electronic components were first introduced into automobiles in the late 1960s.
As time passed and electronics technologies evolved, electronic applications in automobiles proliferated. Modern automobiles have as many as 100 microprocessors that control virtually all functions. While electronic applications have proliferated within automobiles, so too have application standards and electromagnetic interference and electromagnetic compatibility (EMI/EMC) practices.
Thus, while it might be expected that increased EMP vulnerability would accompany the proliferated electronics applications, this trend, at least in part, is mitigated by the increased application of EMI/EMC practices.
We tested a sample of 37 cars in an EMP simulation laboratory, with automobile vintages ranging from 1986 through 2002. Automobiles of these vintages include extensive electronics and represent a significant fraction of automobiles on the road today. The testing was conducted by exposing running and nonrunning automobiles to sequentially increasing EMP field intensities. If anomalous response (either temporary or permanent) was observed, the testing of that particular automobile was stopped. If no anomalous response was observed, the testing was continued up to the field intensity limits of the simulation capability (approximately 50 kV/m).
Automobiles were subjected to EMP environments under both engine turned off and engine turned on conditions. No effects were subsequently observed in those automobiles that were not turned on during EMP exposure. The most serious effect observed on running automobiles was that the motors in three cars stopped at field strengths of approximately 30 kV/m or above. In an actual EMP exposure, these vehicles would glide to a stop and require the driver to restart them. Electronics in the dashboard of one automobile were damaged and required repair.
Other effects were relatively minor. Twenty-five automobiles exhibited malfunctions that could be considered only a nuisance (e.g., blinking dashboard lights) and did not require driver intervention to correct. Eight of the 37 cars tested did not exhibit any anomalous response. Based on these test results, we expect few automobile effects at EMP field levels below 25 kV/m.
Approximately 10 percent or more of the automobiles exposed to higher field levels may experience serious EMP effects, including engine stall, that require driver intervention to correct. We further expect that at least two out of three automobiles on the road will manifest some nuisance response at these higher field levels.
The serious malfunctions could trigger car crashes on U.S. highways; the nuisance malfunctions could exacerbate this condition. The ultimate result of automobile EMP exposure could be triggered crashes that damage many more vehicles than are damaged by the EMP, the consequent loss of life, and multiple injuries.
How do I protect myself from an EMP?
Once again I went to the Internet for “current professional” answers to personal safety issues relating to an EMP. It was good news, as I see it. I have copied below the simplified official expert testimony conclusion as to “people” safety from an EMP.
We apparently have good news with no direct immediate danger for people. The real danger appears to come after the EMP event from “secondary” consequences.
“Electromagnetic Pulse: Threat to Critical Infrastructure”
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure protection and Security Technologies House Committee on Homeland Security
May 8, 2014
Thank you for this opportunity to testify at your hearing on the threat posed by electromagnetic pulse (EMP) to critical infrastructure.
Natural EMP from a geomagnetic super-storm, like the 1859 Carrington Event or 1921 Railroad Storm, and nuclear EMP attack from terrorists or rogue states, as practiced by North Korea during the nuclear crisis of 2013, are both existential threats that could kill 9 of 10 Americans through starvation, disease, and societal collapse.
We have learned a lot from this simple research endeavor. Thanks for your attention. Your comments are appreciated.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 73 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value), and
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 73 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.