Building Your Family Ark Blog
Practical preparedness principles and provident living skills for real people.
It is a cold January evening. You are working late at the office, frantically trying to complete a major project when your computer crashes and the lights go out. Fumbling through your desk you locate a flashlight you had stashed “just in case”. With the aid of a little light, you make your way to the windows hoping to see the extent of the outage. Your frustration turns to despair as you look out and see nothing but the wind driven snow in the moonlight. The entire city is in a state of complete darkness.
You decide to call your family to tell them you will be even later than expected. Dead silence is all you hear from the phone and your heart sinks. “Stupid phones!” you mutter as you drop the handset back in the cradle. Puzzle pieces begin to come together as you sink back into your chair. You grab the radio you use while walking to work each day and run through the presets. Hoping to hear music or even commercials, your worst fears are confirmed as you hear nothing. Panic grips your heart as the last puzzle piece drops in place. Grabbing your coat, you bound down three flights of stairs and run the six blocks home.
You hit the “Scan” button on the radio as you race home. After what seems like eternal silence, your greatest fears are confirmed with the Emergency Broadcast System’s annoying alert tones and the announcement “A devastating electromagnetic pulse (EMP) has destroyed power, communications and other electrical and electronic systems throughout much of the country.” All persons are advised to take cover in basements or other protected areas. Please stay tuned to this station for further news and emergency information.” The only EMP hardened radio station in your area has just defined your future.
Do you understand the implications of what has just happened? Do you have the knowledge, skills and tools to take care of yourself, family and others? Will you be part of the problem or part of the solution and courageously take part in rebuilding the country? The answer will depend on what you have done to prepare for this event.
The purpose of this article is to educate and motivate. What is an EMP? What are the possible implications? How can I prepare for an EMP? How do I respond if an EMP occurs?
What is an EMP? An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is generated when a nuclear weapon is detonated in the atmosphere. The higher the denotation occurs, the larger the area affected. Detonations at an altitude of 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) or higher are generally referred to as High-Altitude EMP or HEMP. For purposes of this article, I will generically use EMP to cover HEMP also. EMP effects are based on “line-of-sight.” One nuclear weapon detonated 200 miles above the earth could cause serious damage across the entire continental
This strong electrical energy pulse is collected by metallic pipes, wires, cables, conduits, or other “antennae” much like a radio signal is collected by a radio antenna or lightning by a lightning rod. High voltages and currents are induced that destroy many types of electrical and electronic devices and systems, including the power grid, communications, computers and many other systems that run our world. Lightning and surge protectors are generally ineffective in protecting against EMP.
Although not directly harmful to humans, the indirect effects of an EMP will be devastating to society. The
What are the possible implications of an EMP? There are two general scenarios in which an EMP will occur. One is as an act of terrorism, similar to “9-11”, only on a much larger scale. The second is as a precursor to something much more dangerous. Military strategists for decades have assumed that any large scale military action (particularly a nuclear assault) would be preceded by an EMP to disable communications, create commotion, and diminish the ability of the military to respond effectively. In either case, life as we know it will drastically change.
Individuals and families have very little control over these events. Our nation has not effectively dealt with this or other serious threats. It is critically important that we take a defensive approach and make necessary preparations that will provide protection during these challenging times.
How can I prepare for an EMP? The window of opportunity to prepare is now, before an EMP occurs. Review the following list, decide where you need to improve and get to work making those preparations.
Build a supply of water and food. Store at least a two week supply of water, more if at all possible. Purchase equipment to purify water and understand the principles behind creating safe drinking water. Start with a three month supply of foods that you normally eat. Keep building until you have at least one year of basic provisions that provide energy, nutrition, and emotional satisfaction. Remember to include garden seeds. Consider ways that you will be able to cook some of the foods you store. There are many good options including propane, charcoal, alcohol and my favorite: cooking with the sun.
Consider sheltering options. Sheltering in or very near your home is preferable if you have, or can reasonably build, a workable (hardened?) shelter. (Visit the
or other resources for further shelter information). Your shelter should be stocked with necessities and things to pass time such as games, books, movies, hobbies, projects, etc. TACDA Academy
Develop a prioritized list of things to be accomplished in the short time that you may have after an EMP occurs before the next event. Review this list with your household members regularly so everyone understands what needs to be done. Select a “chain of command” so that someone will be effectively directing the effort.
Provide for alternative sanitation inasmuch as water and sewer systems will likely be inoperable. A little creativity and research will yield some good solutions, although they will not be as “nice” as the methods to which we are spoiled.
Build or purchase (if you can find one) a power loss alarm that will alert you when grid power is lost. When this alarm sounds; check a phone for dial tone and check several, particularly non-hardened, radio stations with a battery powered radio. If all is normal, go back to bed or whatever you were doing, unless it requires electricity, as so many things do. If your tests suggest an EMP, an adrenalin rush will follow and the next section of this article becomes important.
Invest in a variety of good radios. I suggest a police scanner, a shortwave radio, GMRS Radios, CB Radios, amateur (HAM) radio gear, and of course a good AM/FM radio. Having weather band is nice and I strongly recommend the NOAA Weather/All Hazard Alert capability. You can add or subtract as you decide what works for you. In an emergency situation, it is certainly nice, and perhaps essential, to have good information available to you. It is also extremely helpful to be able to talk to others, close to home or half way around the world.
Generally speaking, and especially in an escalating crisis, keep radios disconnected from grid energy sources and keep antennas disconnected or collapsed down. Cords should be wound into a small coil. Use only one radio system at a time, making sure that other systems are protected. Radios and other electronic/electrical components, including spare parts, should be protected by putting them in a Faraday cage such as an old microwave that has the cord cut off, a metal can and metal lid that make good electrical contact, or other appropriate Faraday cage designs. There are other possible ways of providing protection against EMP, but they are beyond the scope of this article. You can search the internet for topics such as “EMP protection” or “grounding systems”.
Make provisions for back-up energy supplies. This might include generators, solar modules, and/or wind turbines protected in Faraday cages. Energy from these devices and other such generators of electricity can be stored in a battery bank and used directly or through an inverter to create “household power”. I also suggest that you properly store a safe quantity of fuels.
Keep bicycles and other alternative means of transportation in good repair and have extra parts on hand to make repairs when necessary. Consider having a quality trailer that will attach to your bike.
Invest in a variety of good tools. Include a radiation survey meter and dosimeter in this list of tools.
How do I respond to an EMP?
If you do not already have preparations in place, use your time and resources to meet the basic needs for food, water, shelter, sanitation, and communication. After an EMP event, you will be competing with large numbers of people seeking limited resources. If you are lucky, you may survive. It will be extremely difficult. If you choose not to prepare, you are part of the problem. Don’t count on government organizations or charity of others to save you.
In contrast, if you have prepared by creating a comprehensive plan and implementing preparedness objectives, an EMP and whatever follows will be inconvenient and somewhat challenging, but chances are good you will survive. Produce a prioritized task list so you will know exactly what needs to be accomplished, if time allows, before seeking shelter. ?? This will provide you with tremendous advantages in getting through the crisis. Once your critical resources are where you need them, you can focus on making the best of a bad situation. You will be part of the solution as you reach out to others and ease their burdens. Enlist those around you to courageously create order and rebuild lives.
The threat of an EMP is real. Many argue it is more a matter of when it will happen than if it will happen. Several of our enemies have the ability to accomplish an EMP strike today, sending our nation immediately into third world conditions. The effect would be devastating. Our best defense lies in our personal preparations. Make a plan today and take the necessary steps to accomplish it. In the words of John Greenleaf Whittier, “For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, ‘It might have been’.” I challenge you to take action now before it is too late.
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