The former United States Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has said that he hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since he received a briefing on EMPs, or electromagnetic pulses. What is it about EMPs that might have worried Gingrich so much? and why do I have to know how to prepare for an EMP?
EMPs are a fascinating scientific subject, and a concerning survival subject. There may come a day when everyone knows everything there is to know about EMPs. But, for now, nowing even a little provokes a desire to know how to prepare for an EMP.
Read on to learn about the potential dangers of EMPs, why we need to prepare, and how to do it.
What is an EMP?
An EMP is an electromagnetic pulse. The earth has a massive magnetic field around it that protects us from the power of the sun. When there is a significant enough disturbance in the magnetic field, it creates a powerful pulse of electrical energy that can reach down to the earth’s surface.
As we and our technology are enveloped in this energy, it can damage or destroy electrical systems. Some worry that a big enough EMP could return us to 1800s technology, destroying our technological advancements.
What Causes EMPs?
So where do these powerful pulses of energy in the magnetic field come from? EMPs can be either natural or manmade.
Natural EMPs come from the sun. When the sun flares, it shoots energized particles into space. If Earth is in the wrong place at the wrong time, then the sun’s energized particles can hit our planet.
That usually doesn’t matter, though. For hundreds of years, we’ve gotten along just fine and the magnetic field has protected us from the sun’s flares.
But, if the solar flare is too big, then the mass of energized particles will be big as well. And if an extra-large mass of particles strikes the earth, it may overwhelm the magnetic field. When that energy breaks through to reach us on the surface, it can cause serious problems.
On the other hand, scientists have also found ways to create EMPs at will.
A nuclear bomb can cause immense damage when detonated at the earth’s surface, destroying several miles of land. However, detonated many miles above the earth, a nuclear bomb’s power can interact with the magnetic field, creating an EMP.
And the effect size of a nuclear bomb-powered EMP is much, much larger than that of a bomb used at ground level. A large nuclear bomb detonated at the right altitude could cover literally thousands of square miles.
Such a manmade EMP is incredibly powerful and could permanently destroy almost every electrical device inside that entire massive area.
Why Do EMPs Matter?
In 1859, the “Carrington EMP” was observed by Richard Carrington.
The skies lit up with a green aurora, and telegraph machines around the world were damaged or destroyed. Some machines sparked and started fires. Some were removed from their power source but were found to continue functioning anyway as if they were plugged into an electrical outlet.
Back then, losing a few telegraph systems wasn’t such a big deal, and that was practically all the electrical technology they had. But if the same thing happened today, almost everything we use could be in danger.
It happened almost 200 years ago, but it could happen again. Solar flares of that magnitude are calculated to happen every 100 years or so.
While we might try to repair any damage an EMP might do, we ultimately rely on working technology to repair broken technology. If enough of our tech is destroyed all at the same time, we’ll have nothing working and nothing to repair it with.
It would take an unusually powerful EMP to cause any massive damage, but powerful EMPs have struck the United States before, as well as probably every other country on the planet.
Some have even estimated that the United States population might be reduced to a mere 10 percent if a big enough EMP were to strike in the wrong part of the country.
How to Prepare for an EMP
EMP defense is partly about knowing how to shield electronics from EMPs, and partly about preparing to survive without electronics.
Protect Against EMPs
Considering how devastating an EMP could be, it may surprise you to learn how easily they can be countered. Once you know how to protect yourself from EMPs, you can do it quite cheaply.
EMPs can be blocked by an amazingly thin layer of the right metal. In fact, tin foil, or aluminum foil, can repel an EMP and leave your devices functioning normally. You may need to use 5 or 10 layers of foil to be safe.
If the whole world were to place those layers of tin foil around its wiring, we would be effectively immune to EMPs. On the global scale, that’s a huge project, but at the scale of your home, it’s cheap and easy.
EMPs force excessive energy to run through electrical wiring, overwhelming and destroying transformers. However, another method of defense is to design wiring to redirect that excess energy another way. This allows the transformers to survive and the device to remain intact.
Protecting Your Car
For several decades now, cars have been made completely reliant on internal electrical systems. So can you protect your car from EMPs, or other large electronics?
Protecting a car is both difficult and easy. Tin foil is an effective shield, but you can’t just wrap your car in it.
What you can do is make your entire garage or home immune to EMPs with several layers of foil.
The foil doesn’t have to be on the outside surface to perform its protective function, so you can find a way to layer your walls and ceiling without having to turn your home into a giant shiny tin foil ball.
Be Ready to Live Without Electricity
The other way to be ready for an EMP is to be able to get by without devices. You might be able to protect your own, but the surrounding power grid will still be vulnerable.
That means you may be without power, temporarily or permanently.
Water, food, fuel to stay warm, and other supplies can all help prepare you to make it through an EMP. Learning how to live off the land or grow a garden can also help you enjoy a sense of security and preparedness.
Always Be Prepared
We hope you’ve learned a little about how to prepare for an EMP in this piece. To learn more about how to handle EMPs, nuclear scenarios, and other survival situations, check out more of our website!