Top Six Common Questions Concerning An EMP, by Old Bobbert

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!

Our Questions

We defined six primary questions about EMP we wanted to answer for our families. They are as follows:

  1. What is an EMP?
  2. What causes an EMP?
  3. Why should I worry about an EMP?
  4. Will an EMP harm people?
  5. What will an EMP do to my cars?
  6. 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.

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71 Responses to Top Six Common Questions Concerning An EMP, by Old Bobbert

  1. RayK says:

    EMP does not seek out unshielded computer chips. They just happen to be one of the victims.

    EMP is a magnetic wave created by a rain of electrons in the atmosphere. The result is that electricity is created in conductors that are exposed to this magnetic field, just like electricity is created in a generator.

    Long transmission lines (no definition of ‘long’ comes to mind) could have hundreds of thousands of volts created on them, where that much voltage was never intended.

    The automobile test cited used 50kV/m (a field strength of 50,000 volts created in 1 meter of line length). Imagine the voltage generated in a transmission line 1 mile long, 10 miles long!!

    The result would be arcs, short circuits, fires and blown transformers.

    Short conductors, like you might find in your computer circuitry, would have smaller currents induced, but could also be hit from the large voltage surge coming in from the power lines.

    Starfish Prime, a US nuclear air burst test, affected Hawaiian traffic lights 800 miles away, and this was long before microcomputer chips. There weren’t more serious effects because the technology then was vacuum tubes.

    Were that test done today, I suspect that the damages would be more significant.

    • enough says:

      man made EMPs have a frequency spike in the 1khz to 250Mhx range. This is a big range and will include pretty much ALL of the electronic devices used today. The bottom line is EVERYTHING will be at risk. And the question is how to protect them. Grounded, Double walled metal boxes seem to be a starting place but my experiments show they will not stop all the frequencies in the ranges stated above. I personally think we are screwed if hit with an EMP

  2. Hugh Farnham says:

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned are all the fires caused by an EMP across the US. One can only imagine the number of homes and businesses that begin burning by the sudden electrical surge.

    The local fire departments would be instantly overwhelmed, and with no communications would only tackle fires close at hand – perhaps even the firehouse itself. Until the water pressure dropped due to no power (municipal water pumps).

    So add that to Reason #4832 for bugging out, or better yet, live at your bug out location!

    • Jim says:

      Hugh – I’ve brought this up in several comment sections. During the Carrington event the telegraph lines melted and started fires! Those were some heavy duty wires! Our nation is criss-crossed with wires now. So I would expect forest fires as well as building fires from a Carrington level event.

      • Hugh Farnham says:

        During an EMP event, one can only imagine trying to bug out of a city with fires everywhere, even in the countryside with forests going up in smoke due to power lines frying…

  3. D.D. says:

    Solar flare could be even worse…

    “Modern, enhanced Nuclear EMP (NEMP) devices are designed to deliver 100 to 200 Kilovolts per meter (kV/m). This is a massive and amazingly destructive blast of energy. This high energy strike would be limited to a zone just south, east and west of ground zero if a NEMP were detonated in earth’s northern hemisphere. Think of a thick-lipped clown smile and you will get a good idea of the area of Maximum Electronic Destruction (MED) delivered from an enhanced NEMP. The geographic size of the MED is determined by the altitude of a NEMP detonation.

    If you have the misfortune to live in this MED area, there is probably nothing you can do to prevent every electrical device that you own from being destroyed. Nothing, not a Faraday Cage, nor any surge protector or any grounding device will prevent total and complete destruction of all electrical devices. This includes all micro-electronics, automotive alternators & generators, all electric switches, surge-protectors and circuit breakers, all small portable generators, all large commercial generators, and every type of transformer – extra-large to super-small. Everything electronic will be toasted, melted or fried. Fortunately, the NEMP-MED occupies a relatively small area when compared to the total area that would feel the effects of a Nuclear EMP.

    There is probably no device, cage, package, box, surge arrestor/protector or gadget that will protect your electronics from a NEMP-MED. The NEMP-MED is designed to knock-out M-1 Abrams Tanks, Aegis Class Warships, Apache Attack Helicopters and, heaven forbid, Air Force One. An aluminum foil wrapped shoebox containing your old cell-phone and an emergency battery radio will be blown through like toilet tissue held under Niagara Falls.”

    • Hugh Farnham says:

      200 kV/m is 4x the military standard of 50 kV/m, or about 4 dB more. Protecting your electronics in a galvanized trash can gives you at least 40 dB, and 80 dB (the mil-spec) is recommended for 50 kV/m.

      One Dri-Shield 3400 bag gives 40 dB of protection. So, if you pack your electronics in two layers of Dri-Shield 3400 bags AND a can, that gives you 120 dB roughly (depending on frequency). Smaller items, like laptops, are easier to protect than larger things – due to frequency of the EMP.

      120 dB is 10,000 times more protection than 80 dB, or theoretically could take 500,000 kv/m – far over what is needed.

      This kind of field strength would place you close to the kernal of a blast, and the physical blast effects would destroy the electronics, not the EMP.

  4. Randy says:

    An EMP related topic little spoken of is its effect on SCADA systems. “SCADA”—Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems—is potentially one of the worst threats America faces.

    SCADA systems control virtually everything and would wreak havoc after an EMP attack. Electricity, water, sewage, traffic lights, trains, phones, corporate computer systems, procurement systems, billing systems, oil and gas pipelines and even nuclear power stations are all controlled by SCADA systems.

    The EMP Commission Report mentioned above referred to SCADA as “critical elements in every aspect of every critical infrastructure in the Nation.” The commission also highlighted SCADA as vulnerable to EMP attack.

    To get a glimpse of the use of SCADA systems do a search for the “Internet of things”

    • Midwest Marco says:

      I’m glad you brought up SCADA. EMP and CME would wreck havoc on the computer and electrical infrastructure of the US. I used to think that EMP and CME was our number one tech threat, but anymore I think the threat to our infrastructure is more of an “inside job”. Inside meaning that it could all be brought down with a few keystrokes, and a really big coordinated hack. I found this definition of SCADA with a Google search:

      SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) is a system that monitor and control industrial, infrastructure, and facility-based processes that exist in the physical world.

      NK and China to a lesser extent, but European and Russian hackers have demonstrated an ability to take over those supervisory controls (power grid systems) and data (hospital records). To learn more do searches:

      Google: “nsa stolen hacker software” – “the hack that could take down nyc” – “hospital ransomware” – “russian attack ukraine power grid”

      Under “russian attack ukraine power grid” the article on the Ukraine attack is especially enlightening. It’s a long article, but the theory may be that the Ukraine attack could be a test of techniques that could be used on the USA.

  5. Approaching Geezerhood says:

    At one time, there was some very good information on E.M.P. by Jerry Emanuelson. It might be worth looking for.

  6. Jim K says:

    The problem I see with the car issue is that the late 80’s to early 2000’s is that there are now more than ever computer chips and while they may be shielded to protect up to say 30K volts/meter, the NORKS are working on or have a super EMP that delivers 200K volts/meter and the government has done zero testing at that level.

  7. R. Gorton says:

    Personally I would recommend buying an extra ECU for your vehicle since this is the part of the car that would be most effected. It may also be a good idea to look into how to EMP proof your car.

  8. Big Mike says:

    For those of you who want a serious crash course on EMP affects, I recommend reading “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen. This novel is well written and will detail what happened to a family over the course of one year and the region surrounding their family. It gives day by day events and the different “waves of death” that pass thru the region during the following weeks and months. One wave was where the insulin ran out. Another was when all the heart medicine ran out. There is a tremendous amount of detail presented that will help families and communities plan for this event. As I read this book, I felt I was living in this community. Warning: this book has much profanity. A second book that is milder is “A Nation Forsaken” by F. Michael Maloof. This book was less impacting to me.

    • CellerDweller says:

      “One Second After” is an excellent and realistic read about the after effects of an EMP upon a small community and civilization in general. Serious implications for all!!

      Regardless of the failure mechanism, any loss of the electrical grid will result in a cascading crisis requiring years to correct (if we are lucky). No fuel working pumps yields no transportation yields no food / water supply means civil unrest unheard of.

      EMP will likely affect/destroy/render useless transmission lines, substation equipment and transformers. Lack of communications (Radio, TV, cellular, internet) will likely cause mass panic and an on-going plethora of misinformation.

      Think a moment about living one single day without electricity – think about how you get your water, unspoiled foods, warmth or air conditioning. Without electricity, modern Urban/Suburban living is at risk.

  9. EdmondMike says:

    I have purchased an extra ECM and BCM for a 2001 Yukon. A tip to the wise, if you do so, ALWAYS put the new one in your vehicle and store the old one in a safer environment like an ammo can. Do this to insure the new one works properly. In my case, it took three to get one that functioned properly. Then realize it is not an easy as just swapping them. There are special things that will, or may have to be done. In my case the transmission had a special procedure required to sync. Having all that done, and knowing how to do it, will make all the difference.

  10. Plato says:

    A determined enemy would wait until you unpacked that faraday cage, then a week or so later do another EMP. Then a year later do another EMP.
    But imagine all the destruction the “hordes” would cause. A weapon biological could cause the same 90% harm with little harm to infrastructure. Cheaper too.

    • Mathew says:

      I very much doubt the determined enemy will bother with another emp. For one, they are likely to be vaporized by a nuclear counterattack.

      For two, 90% of the population will already be getting wiped out. There arn’t worried about the 1% of preppers

  11. Robert, NC says:

    Thanks for the article, I just had a few comments. There’s a lot that we don’t really know, because with the exception of a soviet test that I remember reading about, but can’t find the reference, no one has really tested one. Even starfish prime was not at an optimal EMP height. What caught my eye about the Soviet test was that it was done pre-electronic controlled cars, and they failed. The wires themselves were fused.

    As for the EMP commission’s test on cars: they had to return the automobiles, so they slowly ramped up the test voltage until first fault. None of them were tested at a significant level of power, and they still resulted is a large number of failures.

    • Jim says:

      The note about the EMP commissions testing was what I had read also. Started to make a comment about it then found yours, so I’ll just add my bid on your response! 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Soviet Test 184, also from the early 1960s. IIRC it was a series of tests at higher and higher altitudes.

  12. GoneWithTheWind says:

    It is possible but unlikely that a nuclear superpower might use EMP devices as part of a massive nuclear attack. Unlikely because when you are “all in” with a nuclear attack wasting resources on piddling stuff makes no sense. I.e. when you need a base, port or significant target destroyed and you have powerful nukes why fool around with something that doesn’t destroy and doesn’t kill the enemy?

    But for a limited nuclear power, NK, to use a EMP device is incredibly stupid and tactically inept. Could happen I suppose, but it is an incredibly stupid attack. It would be deemed a nuclear attack and we would still have all of our military capability left to retaliate. We would retaliate with nuclear weapons and end the threat within hours.

    So if an EMP is such a poor weapon and so unlikely to be used why is it always brought up by preppers? Simple reason; it is the preppers wet dream. Everyone left alive and everyone smart enough to prepare for such a disaster survives while the rest of the unwoke suffer due to their complacency. It validates everything they believe.

    The more likely scenario is either a full blown nuclear war with China or Russia OR a terrorist style attack with a nuke on one of our largest city. No putzing around with an EMP device of dubious effectiveness.

    • Dave says:

      Not true. Every nukular capable country will lead an attack with an emp device in its first strike. It’s doctrine with the USA and Russia.
      An emp delivery before or during a first strike will shut down civil defence warnings
      all media and ham radio transmissions so no warnings or information will be passed.
      it will also shut down transpertation vehicle, rail, ship so troop movements will be difficult to do.
      Also weapon and ammo production will cease meaning no resupply on the battlefield.
      An emp’s purpose is to soften the target country for follow on attacks

      • NMsourdough says:

        With all the major nuclear powers having over the horizon radar, they’ll know a few minutes after launch that something is headed their way. What warnings, if any, will provide whatever time (18min) there would be to take shelter. The Russians and Chinese are far ahead of us in this regard. The USA gave up on Civil Defense in the 60s, so we won’t get any warnings, it will just happen.

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        That is an assumption not a fact. Every major nuclear power in the world can reach their potential target withing 14-30 minutes of launch. Shortly after those missiles are launched the target will know they are under attack. At that point an EMP device is actually counter indictated as it will allow the target nation to launch their own missiles. The simple fact is any surprise nuclear attack against a nuclear power MUST be designed to knock out the ability to retaliate (to the extent possible) as quickly as possible and with everything they have including the kitchen sink. At that point an EMP device is a waste of a good delivery system.

        There may well be no “good” use of an EMP weapon. It would be a tactical weapon at best. But the problem is that it is still a nuclear weapon and it unleashes the nuclear dogs of war. After that happens no one can predict what may happen next. It literally creates more problems then it solves.

      • GoneWithTheWind says:


        Re:”An emp delivery before or during a first strike will shut down civil defence warnings
        all media and ham radio transmissions so no warnings or information will be passed.”

        One important fact about a nuclear first strike. There won’t be any warning from civil defense or the media. In the few minutes that the military has they will spend time confirming what they see is in fact true AND they will spend time convincing the president that it is an attack. There will be no warning to civilians or even to congress. The first “warning” 99.99% of us will get is the bright flash on the horizon. There will be no duck and cover, no dash to the blast shelter and worst of all no response before the first nukes hit us.

    • Mathew says:

      You are missing the fact that for a terrorist organization (or rogue nation that uses terrorist organizations like Iran) an EMP is a good bet.

      You can launch one EMP from a freighter and take out the entire US. A nuclear attack would take hundreds of missiles and would ensure a counterattack.

      I think an EMP is MUCH more likely.

      Moreover, we know 100% we will get hit by another big solar flare that question is just when.

  13. Daniel R Miles says:

    Its really interesting that so many people talk about the NK having the ability to launch an EMP strike over North America….maybe they do ….maybe they don,t But someone once reminded me that while the left hand is doing one thing …we are not focused on the right hand as well ..such as China .China would never give NK the permission let alone the technology to take part of something that sinister ..with out them gaining something from this …Remember China is in a world of hurt right now based on their economy …they need North America alive and kicking to keep buying their products …..Now that been said , I would not put it pass Iran to have somethng up their sleeves ….a couple of Kilo class subs sneaking in ….food for thought

  14. NMsourdough says:

    There is actually some good information out there on the effects of EMP that covers most of the infrastructure, including cars, trucks, and trains. Cars would include standard pickups, trucks would include semis, buses, etc.,
    The title is below which should be easily searchable online. You can download the PDF for future reference.
    Overall, there is not really as much to worry about as you would think, at least when it comes to vehicles.
    Evidently, and I will post this information at a later time, the Automakers have been quietly working on the EMP issue for a very long time, and have found ways that are already incorporated into newer vehicles that limit any damage from an EMP. Of course, other aspects of the infrastructure are still more vulnerable to EMP, and that is a concern.
    Hope this helps.

    Report of the Commission to Assess the
    Threat to the United States from
    Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack – April 2008

    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 our assessment and test results, a weak link in the railroad infrastructure is the railroad signal controls, which can malfunction and slow railroad operations following exposure to EMP fields as low as a few kV/m.

  15. Roger D says:

    I’m pretty much with CellerDweller. Plan and prepare for a long-term grid-down situation (30 days or longer) and you’ll have many scenarios covered. I firmly believe that chances of survival will be inversely proportional to population density.

  16. Tom says:

    I think you are all missing the boat. A EMP strike may or may not disable cars or overload our computers. What it will do is cause a massive and overwhelming failure of our electrical grid. Almost all transformers will be fried. No power equals no gas pumps, no water for the majority of our populous, no sanitation, probably no communications and mass hysteria. Most large transformers are custom built and normally require a two year lead time. They are mostly built abroad. What happens during these two years? Again assuming that we can even get some replacements, where do you think they will go? During the down time what will happen to the population at large. I think the real point of a EMP, whether solar or nuclear, is the massive loss of life from no water or disease from no sanitation. My thought is that because of the massive effect of the EMP it makes sense to have some plan to ride out this disaster.

    • me says:

      Tom, I think you hit the nail on the head with your observation. It really won’t matter if your car works as fuel will be gone shortly or un-deliverable. I kind of think that we can expect martial law after such an event and any running vehicles would likely be confiscated for the common good

    • GoneWithTheWind says:

      Tom: The transformers will not be fried. That is group think from people who have no idea how robust the transformers are. What would happen in a worst case EMP is that the outside link to the transformer would simply open up. That is the wire connecting it to the system will burn out leaving the internal transformer intact and undamaged. Again; in a worst case EMP most of the grid (the lines, transformers, generators, etc. will just open the connection at the weakest link leaving the rest just sitting there. Most of the overhead lines will still be there, intact and ready to be reconnected. Ditto for the rest of the circuitry.
      Control circuits and computers results will vary and may well suffer considerable damage. But most of the electric grid infrastructure will withstand the EMP with only links and fuses damaged.

      • RayK says:

        You don’t think that 1 Mv/m would be like a massive widespread lightning strike? I think arcing would jump those soft links. jmo.

      • Anonymous says:

        Arcing WILL jump those soft links. When I open a fuse with just 2500 volts and a small load, I still get a 14 inch arc. additionally, you have to consider the copper plate windings inside the transformers that are acting like antennas which draw in power.

        • GoneWithTheWind says:

          The transformer case is metal and grounded any arcs will go directly to them/

          But don’t forget the EMP is very brief and then it’s over. One surge, opens the circuit, surge over and done.

          Transformers by their design resist a very fast increase in current/voltage. They don’t burn out from a split second surge. They burn out when they are cycling at 200% of their max rating for hours. The transformers are the most EMP resistant part of the system.

          • Paranoid says:

            Coronal mass ejections (CME) WOULD expose the effect for hours, not a fraction of a second like a nuclear EMP. You would not get E1, E2 and E3 all together like a nuclear EMP but more like niagra falls for hours. Like the Carrington Event.

      • NMsourdough says:

        Thanks Tom, Good to hear some commonsense on the subject.

    • Randy says:

      Add to this that high voltage transformers are all custom made for the specific location and voltage…can easily extend the time it takes for replacements to be made.

      North Korea has at least two satellites that traverse the US several times per day. Each crosses through the heartland from South to North and the fear is that they are already loaded with miniaturized nuclear weapons that can take out the power grid. If you recall, NK has admitted to successful experimentation with miniature nukes.
      The NK satellites are called. KSM 3-2 and KSM 4.
      There are many tracking sites on the web that will show you their exact locations.

      I find it concerning that the NK leader shows no fear or concern for war with the US. Most attribute this to him being foolish…but he may also have an advantage that we are unaware of.

    • Daniel R Miles says:

      just imagine after an EMP strike the physcological effects on people who live their lives day in and day out with thier Iphones /pads etc ….I would forsee alot of individuals who will not comprehend what to do with themselves especially something like facebook /Twitter ….Reality ….what a Concept !

      • David Martin says:

        Daniel, Your comments make a point, I have often thought about. I have read that the satellites don’t emit any radio signals, or maybe not over the U.S. But another thought that comes to mind is there may be a dead man switch built into their processors. Little Kim may have had them designed so if he becomes not able to daily up load a code to them. The satellites may just do their dirty deeds on their next passes over our country.
        I don’t know if we do still have the satellite killer but if we do, Our nation needs to consider taking them out before any war with NK.
        Dave of Oregon

        • James Wesley Rawles says:

          I have yet to see any conclusive evidence that North Korea is capable of producing fusion (Hydrogen) bombs. Nor have I seen any evidence that they have sufficiently miniaturized their fission (“A Bomb” making ability to make them small and light enough to fit atop any of their rocket boosters. So the chances of a North Korean A Bomb presently in orbit are VERY, VERY small.

  17. Sean says:

    Japan attacked us in 1941 with a carrier force of attack planes. They reasoned it out, after closely looking at the British attacking the Italian Fleet at Taranto, in 1940. But at that time, the tactics and weapons used were mostly unheard of by non-military types. Everyone got on the same page rather quickly after Pearl Harbor, and carriers were the principle element in victory in the Pacific. Comes the next attack on the US, it will be a surprise for most people as well. An EMP attack is the new carrier attack, sans risking pilots and planes, or carriers and their support groups. One Second After…… will some one actually do it? The question is really WHEN.

  18. Mike Richins says:

    When I was a child living in Arizona when thunderstorms would come cars would be disabled from the lighting. (Mini EMP’s?) The points in the distributor would melt. To fix it you could replace the points and condenser. I think that was what it was called. Or file the contacts and re gap them. For prevention people would have a flat piece of steel bolted to the frame and rubbing on the ground to ground the vehicle. During late summer when the monsoon season would start you could see a lot of vehicles modified like this. Heck I was a little kid at the time what did I know. Might be just an old wives tale. But something to think about it might be true.

  19. Skip says:

    Note the nuclear power plants across the US and the cooling ponds for the spent rods will in time boil off all the cooling water. No electricity, no pumps to cool the rods in the reactor or in the ponds.
    They will become critical and spew out radiation for a few 100-1000 years?

    Good luck living in that environment. Also, check the US map of all the power plants, the East Coast would get fried over time.

    • Thomas says:

      Which is why I found One second after, Patriots, World made by Hand, etc.., to be a fairy tales. No mention of the Nuclear plants letting go. And the truth be told, anything that stops the constant care of the nuclear power plants and cooling ponds by people means radiation armageddon. From where I’m sitting in central Virginia, that day will come.

      • Hugh Farnham says:

        Imagine after a CME over 400 Fukushimas happening at once.

        If Fukushima raised the background radiation by just 5 CPM on average, 400 would raise it to 2,000 CPM – which is a long-term health issue (aside from starvation, no medical facilities, etc).

        I used to think “On the Beach” to be a liberal fantasy – but with all those nuclear plants potentially going sideways in a CME or war, it may well be prophetic.

  20. Fred says:

    I’m not sure I’d plan on our military being able to stop a missle(s) or respond.

    The navy can’t sail in the Pacific, the Cole was left unprotected because of political correctness and few of our leaders can make a quick decision, we’ll study an attack to death. Most of the flag and star ranks are Obama appointments…..good luck to those who depend on our leaders to act quickly.

    You and your family are on your own.

  21. Paul Seyfried says:

    If I may, let’s correct the unit of measure used to define the field strength of an EMP signal. The correct unit of measure is kv per SQAURE meter. If we calculate how many bare 12 gauge copper wires it would take to make up a square meter of conductor, and divide that by 50 kv, we come up with about 50 volts per linear foot of 12 gauge wire. So ten feet of exposed copper line would harvest about 500 volts. To prevent this, place the copper line inside steel conduit or flex. This is particularly useful in off-grid solar power systems. Prevents line-induced damage to your charge controller.

    The most catastrophic loss to our civilization will be municipal drinking water systems. Food, energy, transportation, medical and med support, etc are second fiddle, but no less deadly in effect. They just take longer to come into play.

    • David Martin says:

      Paul, thank you for your excellent explanation of the induced currents into a conductor. When you think about it, like how long is a transmission line from a power plant, to a switching/transformer station, say from all the Dams in the High Serria’s to LA and the distribution stations. The generation facilities, and the distribution sub-stations would be worse than burnt toast. Then think of all the rail road tracks becoming part of this same kind of conductors. and all of the wood rail road ties becoming flaming embers and not enough fire fighters in the world to put out all of the fires just along the tracks. The thought is unimaginable, Then think of pipe lines both buried and exposed. Yes the earth grounding would dissipate some of that energy, but not all. Fuel pipelines would blow up like huge very long bombs. I don’t think the word disaster would even come near the description of the aftermath. Having read One Second After, and several other books. They don’t even scratch the surface of the AFTERMATH of what would actually occur….
      But, add the threat of retaliation to the perpetrator of such an event, there would be many more nations effected than the nation who received the EMP burst…. Think of the collapse of international commerce. Patriots, or Survivor, and others would just scratch the surface. All of the compounded effects would really raise all of the immediate effects the second after would open up the imaginations of writers even further than we could ever think of before. Paul your explanation really opens up a huge bucket of worms, Beyond many of our thought processes. I for one even with my own background never thought of the SQUARE METER in just that way before. Thank you for the explanation.
      Blessings to all.
      Dave of Oregon

  22. Capt Nemo says:

    EMP is really not much to worry about. Cities will fare better than the country. All transformers now are equipped with lightning strike protection, which will shunt the overvoltage to ground. The more transformers on the line, the better protected it is. Most pole transformers can run at a few times their rating for hours before failure. I run a 10 KVA pole transformer as a supply for a Tesla coil. The only time it shut down was when the coil was seriously out of tune, and the primary voltage rang up to 7X and tripped the lightning protection. That’s 100,800V on a transformer rated at 14,400V. The transformer still works! Normal coil operation is about 2-3 times rating. So don’t worry much about it.

    I’d be much more worried about what happens when the seventh seal is broken in the book of Revelations. When the seal is broken there is silence in heaven for half an hour (~8 days earthtime @ 7 years = 1 week to the Lord). I don’t think heaven could shut up from praising the Lord that long. And this seems out of place compared to all that has happened before it. I think John might have meant the microwave background radiation seen in the universe. He would not be able to describe that in the terms of his day. Make that all EM from microwave on down, and the earth can say, “Hey Houston, we have a major problem!” No RF communications for 8 days would cause major havoc on earth. I pray the Lord will clarify on this as to it’s true meaning.

    • Steve says:

      Capt Nemo, the EMP E-1 component rise time is too fast for a typical lightning arrestor to cope with. The current will blow past it well before it can open.
      Paul S, I’ve been working with EMP issues for thirty years and until today have never seen anyone claim the meter was a square meter vs a linear one. Are you sure?

  23. Old, but not yet senile, electrical engineer says:

    There’s a lot of misinformation in these comments about the seriousness of an EMP or CME event on everything electric. For a reliable assessment from a PhD in Electrical Engineering who specializes in this area while work for NASA see:

    I recommend his book because I am a Registered Professional Engineer in Electrical Engineering, have read the book linked above, and can state that it is accurate and well-written and balanced.

    In short, whether by EMP (human generated) [or by CME (nature generated, solar), same basic threat] this kind of event is exceedingly dangerous to everything electrical that has not been specifically protected against the level of threat.

    An EMP is worse than a lightning strike by many orders of magnitude. Lightning strikes destroy power transformers now, today notwithstanding that power transformers employ lightning arrestors to protect against this kind of natural event.

  24. CuzMike says:

    I read through all of the comments and Skip was the only person that I saw mentioning the threat to our nuclear power plants. It seems to be an area on the EMP topic that few want to address. If what I have read is correct there are 104 nuclear power plants in the US alone. All the prepping in the world won’t do a bit of good if a person happens to be living down wind of one melting down.

    • Old Bull says:

      A guy I work with is a ex nuclear engineer. Built the local plant. Most of the radiation is hot and will rise. It will come down fifty miles or more from the plant. Stay indoors for two days. Ninety percent will survive if they are not exposed.

  25. Robert, NC says:

    Here’s another excellent book on EMP protection, focusing on protecting radios that are in use. It can be a bit over my head, but that’s how I know what things I need to spend more time studying.

    Just somethings to remember about EMP’s.
    The destructive spike in voltage occurs primarily in the UHF range up to the microwave bands frequencies (mostly). This range of frequencies are line of sight. This means that height of EMP detonation matters along with location of detonation.

    The impact on your local equipment will be dependent on a number of things, so don’t assume that one EMP sent 30 miles up from a ship launch is game over for everyone. Even with a 300 mile detonation there will be gaps and inconsistencies in EMP coverage.

    I mentioned this because besides using a faraday care for electronics, even daily basic habits “could” make a difference. For instance, my radios have a section of cable that is lower quality and has BNC connectors. When I am not using the radio, I disconnect it from my antennas. I also have the power strip easily accessible and turn them off when not using that equipment. Of course I have backup equipment in a faraday cage, but you just never know. Especially being on the coast, or if there was a mountain between my equipment and area of optimal EMP coverage, it just might make a difference. For 1 minutes worth of effort, why not? “Off” and unplugged is about the cheapest prep I ever made.

  26. Gary says:

    Anybody care to mention that NK satellite that flew over the Super Bowl just hours after it ended?

    Maybe Fat Boy wanted a cheap seat but we don’t need to laugh at their odd looks and manners — I bet some military fellows weren’t laughing.

  27. charlie benjamin says:

    The launch of rockets carrying payload by the N.K. was to test the design for orbital delivery. What they learned is that they can deliver when an EMP device is perfected. Those tests where about lift and duration. Those satellites now overhead are space junk. The next ones will probably not be.

  28. Dave of Oregon says:

    In response to Dave above, is a comment from another Dave. The reference to taking out HAM radio I would take a little bit of countering. There are those of us who are HAM’s and from an old Nuclear soldier form the signal corps who has trained and also practice protecting some of our equipment from EMP. I also have tried to teach others how to protect some of their equipment that is not in everyday use from EMP. Yes depending on how far away from a nuclear detonation will also determine how well protected it must be. EMP is not always a high altitude burst, but EMP will also be evident in a low altitude localized burst. If your outside the ground effects of the blast area of an attack. the equipment will still be subject to EMP. I remember many many years ago in the 7th Divison at Fort Ord. Presenting to the Division Signal officer a training plan for all the division signal personnel to receive training on protection of their equipment. At the time the subject was all top secret. He told me I couldn’t train our troops. My response was that all of our RTTY ops.(radio teletype operators) must have a TS crypto clearence to operate the system and that a need to know was extreemly important to their ability to function after a nuclear exchange. Permission was granted….
    It’s interesting to me that a subject that used to be considered Top Secret is now discussed openly in blogs.
    back to the subject. I have 6 complete radio systems doubly protect inside EMP containers. And my metal shop building is also somewhat a protection against EMP. Plus I actually own and old Army RTTY EMP protected radio set.
    In my HAM club meetings over the past several years. Emergency preparedness comes up often. and the subject usually stops somewhere short of EMP, When it stops there, I never hesitate to jump right in and not only bring up the subject, but try to give some simple ways to add protection to some of our amateur radio gear. Granted there may be some gear that is zapped. But if some of us have equipment including power systems that are protected. Then there will be some hams on the air.
    On Generators. the most sensitive parts are not only the windings, but also the DIODES in the armature windings. And any ignition system of the engine… I found that the cheap little 800 watt generator available at HARBOUR FREIGHT for about a $100 Is quite easy to protect either by building a sheet metal shielded box, out of galvanized sheet metal. or even a coragated box covered in a few layers of heavy foil. Usually available from resturant food suppliers. and metal ducting tape. I have an old heavy duty extruded aluminum case that fits one quite nicely. These equipment cases are often found at HAM radio swaps or surplus houses. Of all the majors perils, FAMIN, EARTH QUAKE, FIRE, FLOOD, WIND, EXTREEM HEAT, OR COLD, ICE, DEEP SNOW, MEDICAL, BIOLOGICAL, NUCLEAR, CHEMICAL, EMP/CME should all be perils we should try to prepare for. Granted its pretty much impossible.
    I know it is impossible to prepare for every peril but just putting forth the extra effort and hoping for the best is better than no preps at all.
    I know that all Hams are not prepared, but even if there are just a few. Those few will make a big difference if the worst ever does happen…
    I know that even the smallest effort made, can mean a lot in any time of peril.
    Blessing to all. and ol’ signal corps Sarg.

  29. Steve says:

    Sarge, I used to inspect security for nuclear command and control systems, and see a lot of what used to be highly classified info on the interwebs. Having said that, I concur that it is difficult to prepare completely for very low probability but catastrophic impact events, but any preparation helps. One technique I use is to categorize the probability of occurrence on one chart, and the impact on another. And for the impact, I use lives lost as the metric. A hundred people killed by an airplane crash, a thousand killed by a hurricane, a million killed by a pandemic, and 290 million killed by the loss of the electrical grid.

  30. CeeJay 0714 says:

    I’m new to prepping, but I don’t think I could find a much better site to ask my first question about EMP.
    Would replacement electrical parts sitting on a shelf be damaged, or would they need to be in a shielded case?

  31. David Martin says:

    CeeJay 0814 If your putting up spare parts, consider this, if it broke in the machine, then wouldn’t it be affected by emp out of the machine too. Maybe. if there is a maybe in your answer, then protect the components too. wrap the box in aluminum foil, and label the outside what the component is. Stuff happens. a little now saves a lot later on.

    • Old, but not yet senile, electrical engineer says:

      “Would replacement electrical parts sitting on a shelf be damaged, or would they need to be in a shielded case?”

      Answer: Exposed spare parts (i.e., that are not enclosed in a Faraday cage) and that are not even assembled into a circuit or circuit board, can be, might be, damaged by a sufficiently strong EMP pulse.

      Why – An EMP pulse of electromagnetic energy creates a massive E-M field in space that encounters (or surrounds) the electrical/electronic devices under consideration whether in a circuit, or outside of a circuit on the shelf. The damage, if it occurs, takes place because the field strength generated by the EMP in the vicinity of the device exceeds the device’s allowable parameters, which condition causes the boundary between, for example, the P-type and N-type semiconductor materials which make up the device, to “arc-over” (sparking, burning) thus shorting or blowing-open the device internally.

      Every semiconductor device has a physical limit, a voltage surge limit, beyond which the boundary between the semiconductor types which the device is manufactured, and beyond that limit the device fails.

      Every semiconductor device, diode, transistor, MOV, digital circuitry, etc., whether in a circuit or outside of a circuit can fail if the E-M field in the vicinity of the device exceeds the allowable parameters for induced voltage rise, which circumstances are inherent to the design of the device. The device manufacturer publishes this design limitation for each device.

      Incidentally, capacitors, which are not made of semiconductor materials, can also fail due to excessive voltage surge if the surge is sufficiently high in the space surrounding the device. This is because the E-M field created by the EMP surge has the potential to be way beyond any other natural surge generated in nature, such as by a thunderstorm’s lightning strike.

      Devices on the shelf that are not in a Faraday cage are probably at less risk of damage than those in a circuit because in a circuit, the surrounding wiring or circuit board traces act as antenna to induce and therefore enhance the effect caused by the E-M field strength surge.

      If the most protection is desired, the device, in or out of circuit, needs to be placed inside an adequate Faraday cage.

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