EMP Strike Survival: Preparing for a Solar Flare or EMP Attack
It’s a true doomsday scenario: EMP Commissioners warned Congress that an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack on the U.S. could kill 90% of Americans within a year if it disabled the power grid for indefinite amount of time. It’s not the blast itself that would harm people but the aftermath – starvation, disease, and societal collapse. Basic necessities like power, heat, refrigeration, and water treatment plants would go offline in the blink of an eye.
A weapon is what most people think of when they hear the term "EMP". What most people don’t realize is there is a far greater EMP threat lurking in outer space – our own sun. Specifically, solar storms, which cause solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) powerful enough to power down the world. We are long overdue for a solar event, and it is crucial to understand the potential impact of these natural phenomena on our modern world.
The Worst Solar Storm in History
The Carrington Event of 1859 is the most powerful solar event on record. This massive solar storm caused telegraph systems worldwide to go haywire – suddenly shorting out and producing sparks that ignited telegraph paper and even electrocuted some telegraph operators. Our world is far more reliant on electronics today than it was in the 19th century. If a solar storm of that magnitude hit now, it could send us back a few hundred years in a flash by rendering electronics inoperable – from smartphones to cars to the power grid. In a worst-case-scenario: imagine all communications falling silent at once and the entire planet powering down.
There would likely be little-to-no warning ahead of such an event, so it's essential to plan ahead. This blog post will discuss how to create an emergency plan for your family, what to do if you’re on the road, how to protect your critical electronics, and what must-have supplies to stock up on ahead of a potential solar flare.
Anticipate and Prepare: Create an Emergency Plan for Solar Flares
Imagine being in the middle of a normal workday and realizing that life as you know it has come to a standstill - all computers, phone lines, and cars are dead thanks to a massive electromagnetic burp from the sun. Now picture yourself frantically trying to figure out how to get your family home safely. Scary, isn't it
Avoid this hypothetical by having a plan, especially when it comes to figuring out how you and your family will get home in the event a solar flare strikes when you’re not there. With the possibility of cars being dead from the EMP blast, it's crucial to prepare to travel on foot. Even if your own car runs fine, others might not be so lucky, leading to accidents and chaotic congestion as cars suddenly grind to a halt.
Take the time now to form a plan with your family – like plotting out routes home on foot, knowing who’s getting the kids from school, and keeping a get home bag or car kit in your vehicle – and make sure everyone in your family knows the drill.
Shield Your Devices: Invest in Faraday-Defense for Your Critical Electronics
In today's world, we've become highly dependent on our electronics. Most of us are ready with a radio or alternative lighting source during a black out – but a solar flare could be a power outage on steroids, frying every unprotected electronic device. That's where a Faraday cage or Faraday bag comes to the rescue.
A Faraday cage is a metal container that blocks electric fields and protects what’s inside from electrical disturbances, such as interference or EMPs. It acts as a conductive shield, preventing outside electric fields from damaging what's inside.
You can stash a wide range of electronics safely inside, such as emergency solar or battery-powered radios, generators, flashlights, backup power banks, power tools, and Ham radios for communication. Another idea is to store an old cell phone with off-line survival apps, music, and games. It can also act as a timepiece if you don’t have a mechanical, wind-up wristwatch or very old grandfather clock.
Ready for a DIY project?
Building your own Faraday cage doesn't require a degree in engineering. In fact, it’s fast, cheap, and easy. All you need is a metal trash can, some insulation – like cardboard or a rubber or plastic bucket that fits inside – a metal lid, and some aluminum tape to make sure it’s tightly sealed.
A quick test to make sure it works is to place a radio inside and see if it loses the signal when you close the lid. If the radio goes silent, your Faraday cage is EMP-proof and will protect your electronics from damage.
In addition to your solar flare-protected electronics stored your Faraday cage, below we’ll discuss other survival essentials you’ll want to stock up on.
Must-Have Supplies for Surviving a Solar Flare
As with every unexpected crisis, preparation is key, and you don’t want to be left scrambling for survival supplies at the last minute – especially among the chaos that would ensue after the initial confusion around the solar flare subsides.
Just like if you were preparing for a blizzard or power outage, your first order of business is always stocking up on life-or-death items like food, water, and any medications. But don’t just think short-term.
Because water services may stop and water treatment plants shut down, invest in filtration devices to purify water once you go through your supply. The same goes with food. Eventually you’ll eat your way through your emergency stockpile, and where will you source more if supply chains are broken? Think beyond your survival stockpile to how to hunt or grow your own food.
You'll also want items that allow you to survive off-grid, like solar powered lighting sources, an alternative cooking method, and hand tools. Also consider ways to fight temperature extremes, like investing in a woodstove or battery powered fans, since exposure claims lives.
It’s also wise to stock up on and plug all appliances into surge protectors – while they won’t prevent a solar flare from damaging your electronics, they may prevent the sudden electrical surge from sparking a fire. In light of this concern, a fire extinguisher should also be on your solar flare survival supply list.
As noted above, you may also want to invest in a mechanical, wind-up wristwatch.
EMP-Proof Car Kit
As we also touched on above, you’ll want an EMP-proof car kit. Consider keeping a pocket jumper in a Faraday bag to see if you can get your car running again if it dies from the solar flare. Flashlights, food and water, and an EDC can also be placed inside.
In case you can’t get your car started, or there’s too much congestion and the way home is blocked, make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes and a physical map of the area.
How Long Do the Effects of a Solar Flare or EMP Last?
How long would electronics be disabled after a solar flare? The truth is, it’s hard to say. How long your gear stays out of action depends on the severity of the event. Some electronics might survive. Others could take, days, months, or even years to get up and running again.
If a solar storm as large as the Carrington Event took place today, it would likely bring the grid to its knees and cripple the world for quite some time.
Time to Get Prepped
While worst-case scenarios of solar flares and EMP weapons certainly sound both alarming and daunting, preparing for the worst is the best way to protect you and your loved ones from harm. If a solar or weapons-based EMP does strike, stocking up on emergency supplies, using faraday cages to shield crucial electronics, and planning ahead with your family will give you the best chance of survival.
With a little forethought, planning, and preparedness, your family can be ready to face whatever comes your way – even a solar flare.
EMP Strike Survival: Preparing for a Solar Flare or EMP Attack