A scan of a circa 1979-1980 SERE Survival Handbook that was given out during a basic Naval SERE course in the San Diego area. Eat tree bark, experience waterboarding. Have a lightly cooked rabbit. ...
A scan of a circa 1979-1980 SERE Survival Handbook that was given out during a basic Naval SERE course in the San Diego area. Eat tree bark, experience waterboarding. Have a lightly cooked r…Full description
Assessing the Threat from Electromagnetic Pulse
Assessing the Threat from Electromagnetic Pulse
Assessing the Threat from Electromagnetic Pulse
Assessing the Threat from Electromagnetic Pulse
Describes the necessary steps to and procedures for treating a range or injuries and medical conditions in emergency situations. Includes handy sidebar navigation to easily find what you are lookin...
upravljanje elektromotornih pogona skripta
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Helpful suggestions for defending against EMP during/after a nuclear attack.
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This paper, written by Consumers’ Research, addresses the United States’ current state of preparedness against threats posed by Electromagnetic Pulse emitters - particularly the threat to th…Full description
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TABLE OF CONTENTS ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE GUIDE........................................ 1 I’VE NEVER HEARD OF THIS THREAT..................................... 1 THE MODERN AND CUTTING EDGE HOME OF 1912............. 2 A FICTIONAL EMP STRIKE . ................................................... 3 SAME SCENARIO, 100 YEARS LATER...................................... 4 THE DISCOVERY OF EMP...................................................... 6 STARFISH PRIME – GRANDDADDY TO ALL EMPs................... 7 SOVIET TEST 184................................................................... 8 THE SCIENCE OF EMPs......................................................... 9 NUCLEAR EMPs................................................................... 10 ALTITUDE – ANOTHER EMP CONSIDERATION..................... 13 YIELD – BIGGER IS NOT NECESSARILY BETTER..................... 14 LAUNCH METHODS OF NUCLEAR EMP DEVICES................. 14 SUPER EMP......................................................................... 16 NON NUCLEAR EMP............................................................ 17
POTENTIAL EFFECTS OF EMP.............................................. 18 CONTROL SYSTEMS............................................................. 19 ELECTRIC POWER............................................................... 20 COMMUNICATIONS............................................................ 24 MONEY AND FINANCE INFRASTRUCTURE.......................... 25 THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY.............................................. 27 TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE................................. 29 FOOD PROCESSING INFRASTRUCTURE............................... 32 WATER - A MOST PRECIOUS COMMODITY......................... 33 EMERGENCY SERVICES........................................................ 35 SATELLITES AND SPACE SYSTEMS........................................ 36 WHAT IT ALL MEANS........................................................... 37 WHO WOULD DO THIS TO US ANYWAYS?.......................... 38 CHINA................................................................................. 38 RUSSIA................................................................................ 38 NORTH KOREA.................................................................... 39 IRAN . .................................................................................. 39 TERRORISTS........................................................................ 40 THE SUN – A NATURAL ENEMY........................................... 40
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SURVIVE AN EMP.......................... 41 LIFE AFTER EMP – SURVIVING THE STORM........................ 44 WATER – ESSENTIAL FOR LIFE............................................. 45 FOOD – ESSENTIAL TO SURVIVAL........................................ 47 FIRST AID . .......................................................................... 50 SELF DEFENSE..................................................................... 52 COMMUNICATIONS............................................................ 55 TRANSPORTATION............................................................... 56 CLOTHING........................................................................... 57 MISCELLANY....................................................................... 58 EMP HARDENING MEASURES............................................ 59 THE TOP TEN ITEMS TO HAVE IN THE EVENT OF AN EMP STRIKE.......................................................... 61 PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS AND SUMMARY.................. 62 APPENDIX A: 72 HOUR PLAN............................................. 65 APPENDIX B: BUG OUT BAG............................................... 67
AN ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE (EMP) is a complex and misunderstood event and concept shrouded in deep science. When most people speak of an EMP, they are usually referring to a high altitude detonation of a nuclear weapon, the damage of which comes not from the blast or shockwave itself, but rather from the electromagnetic effects thereof. An intentional EMP attack upon the nation has been billed as one of the worst things that could happen to the United States; some estimates put deaths due to EMP strike at over 200 million. You won’t see it. You can’t feel it. In and of itself, it can do no harm to your body. It will not pollute waters. It will not kill crops or livestock. As a matter of fact, when it happens, you might not even know until hours or days later. How can something so imperceptible be so deadly to so many people? An EMP’s potential lethality comes not from the electromagnetism, not even from the nuclear blast that might cause it, but from its effects on our way of life. Simply put, a properly planned EMP strike upon a civilized nation can destroy its power grid and most of its communications and electronic devices. Power grids used to be a convenience feature, a nice frill to have, a luxury.
I’VE NEVER HEARD OF THIS THREAT
If you’ve never heard of the dangers of Electromagnetic Pulse, you’re not alone. Rest assured however, that the government has heard of it – incredibly, an entire commission was convened to examine this threat. Formally named the “Commission to assess the threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack” or EMP Commission for short, this body of experts was assembled with four goals in mind: • The nature and magnitude of high altitude nuclear EMP threats to the US • Vulnerability of US civilian and military infrastructure • Capability of the US to repair and recover from such an event • Feasibility and cost of hardening against EMP events 1
EMP SURVIVAL This commission was comprised of dozens of experts on the topic of EMPs from many different disciplines. Their startling conclusions came to light in a report that they published, detailing their findings. Entitled the “Critical National Infrastructure Report”, this massive 200+ page document can be found at www.empcommission.org. EMP is enough of a threat for a massive committee to be formed – but why? To understand why an EMP could be so potentially devastating, one needs only to look back on the home of around 100 years ago.
THE MODERN AND CUTTING EDGE HOME OF 1912 Take a step back in time to the year 1912. Your typical East coast home is usually built of masonry (wood frame on the West Coast). It has a simple electric light system – in these parts, electricity has been around since about 1906 or so, and electric lights are all the rage. Curiously, the home has no power outlets since there are few, if any, devices to plug them in to. Most rooms contain a wire hanging from the ceiling with a receptacle for a bare bulb. The living room has a rudimentary chandelier, recently rewired from candle use. Mom still keeps plenty of oil lamps and candles on hand since the new fangled electricity system in town is fragile and subject to frequent black outs and brown outs. Moving in to the kitchen, we see a wooden ice box to store perishables in. Mom must make a trip to the market almost every day to purchase fresh goods, as food does not keep long in this environment. Downstairs in the basement, a fuel oil heating system heats the home through the coldest winters. Even though the home isn’t energy efficient and the house literally bleeds heat, the furnace 2
EMP SURVIVAL keeps pumping its fuel oil, its mechanical fuel pump whirring away. The home has a telephone; by this year there are roughly 6 million phones in the United States. They’re mostly for local use, however, as transmission lines are not optimized for long range communication just yet. Dad read in the newspaper yesterday that the first phone call was made from New York City to Denver – 2100 miles - an unfathomable distance, over purpose built overhead telephone lines.
A FICTIONAL EMP STRIKE Let’s take the fiction a little further. Mom and Dad are sitting in the parlor of their modest 1912 home. A rogue nation has managed to create a time machine and launches a purpose built fission derived nuclear warhead. As Dad scans the newspaper, 250 miles overhead, a warhead detonates. A momentary flash lights up the living room, like lightning. No sound is heard. Instantly, the power goes out. Annoyed more than anything, Dad lights an oil lamp. Mom brings out some candles. Another black out. The next day, life goes on much as it has for all of Dad’s life – he walks to the grocer to get some vegetables, then, to the butcher to get some meat. Their power is out too. No one seems to notice or care. The meat is perfectly fine; 3
EMP SURVIVAL it’s kept cool with ice. An old timer at the bar reminds everyone that this electricity thing was just a fad and he knew, just knew it wouldn’t last. The telegraph doesn’t work and Western Union is out refitting some of the telegraph poles with new wires. Some of the connections are mysteriously charred and every single fuse is blown. The mail is still running, however. While the thought of an EMP strike occurring a hundred years ago is absurd, this fictional scenario shows us one thing: electricity was a convenience to people back then, it was not a necessity. People were well equipped to live without power or communications. It was simply not a game changer to be without it. They were not affected to the degree we are today, and not only that, any damage an EMP could have caused back then would be easily repairable.
SAME SCENARIO, 100 YEARS LATER Dad walks through the door – he’s off from work early. Winter is setting in and it gets dark early. He flips the light switch…half a dozen light elegant halogen lamps turn on. He turns on the TV to see what’s going on. The news lady is panicking about something he doesn’t listen to, since he’s busy extracting a frozen dinner from his double door fridge. He sticks it in the microwave, hits reheat, and walks away. Outside, the nighttime lights automatically come on with the setting sun. He goes to the digital thermostat on the wall and cranks the heat. The piezoelectric lighter starts the furnace up – it doesn’t even use a pilot light. An electric fan blows the heat throughout the house. His phone rings – his cell phone, that is (Dad hasn’t had a land line for four years) – it’s Mom. She’s stuck in traffic. As they chat, a sudden flash of light floods through the windows. It’s like lightning, or as if someone set off a powerful flash bulb outside. Immediately, the power in the house dies. His cell phone goes dead and the call is disconnected. For a 4
EMP SURVIVAL moment, everything is silent. Dad looks at his phone’s black screen. Hits the power button. The phone turns on, but won’t get a signal. He goes out onto the porch to see what’s up. The city is black – not a single light is on – this is some kind of power failure. 24 hours later, Dad is frantic. The power is still out. Mom didn’t come home and he has no idea where she is. Phones don’t work anywhere – landlines either. The police have no idea what’s going on, as their radios are mostly inoperative. Some of their personal radios work, but the transmitting stations are knocked out. Some cars still work and are driving around, but the streets are mostly jammed with dead vehicles and are impassable. Gas stations report not being able to pump any gas since their electric pumps are fried. The hospital looks like a war zone – it’s filled with injured people with trauma from car accidents. The place is well stocked with dual generators and thousands of gallons of backup diesel fuel, but for some reason, the generators won’t start. 95% of the people who were on life support last night are dead and the morgue is full to capacity. While fictional, the above scenario is a pretty good illustration of how much we depend on electricity and how it has grown from being a convenience feature to being an essential part of human life in the United States. Electricity is directly responsible for the advent of modern communications, which cannot operate without it. 5
To understand why an EMP could be so potentially devastating, one needs to revisit how EMP was discovered in the first place. An EMP is nothing new; the phenomenon of electromagnetic pulse has been known and anticipated since the earliest days of nuclear weapon design. Most typically a byproduct of the detonation of a nuclear weapon, electromagnetic interference was observed in the earliest nuclear tests. What is interesting to note, however, is that for nearly a decade and a half after the emergence of nuclear weapons, the full effects of a nuclear detonation at altitude were unknown. This is because prior to about 1956, nuclear weapons were detonated on the ground, below ground, underwater, or just slightly above ground, as in an air burst scenario. Nuclear weapons weren’t detonated at high altitudes until the Hardtack series of tests in the late 1950s – and the full effects of EMP then began to be realized. It is important to note that the development of nuclear weapons was mainly for the conventional destruction of targets. A nuclear weapon contains much more explosive power than conventional high explosives and the thrust behind the design of these weapons was quite simply destruction on a large scale. The nuclear weapons dropped upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki were a testament to the destructive force of theses weapons – hundreds of thousands of
EMP SURVIVAL people died in these bombing campaigns. Many of those were vaporized at ground zero and the cities were essentially leveled. This was the intent of the weapon, and why the use and employment of nuclear weapons is such a feared thing. Since the atomic bombs of World War II, nations around the world have developed nuclear weapons countless times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Japan; it can now be said with certainty that man is capable of utterly destroying the planet on which he lives. Hiroshima’s “Little Boy” was like an 18 kiloton plaything compared to something like the awesome Tsar Bomba developed by the Soviets less than two decades later, a 100 megaton behemoth of destruction. EMP was quite simply a side effect of these nuclear weapons, an unintended consequence that is now being harnessed and cultivated, a new type of weapon that can potentially be more devastating than the single nuclear blast that fathers it. It should also be noted that a nuclear weapon that can kill 200 million people simply by exploding doesn’t exist (not even the Tsar Bomba could do this), and won’t likely exist due to the practicality of designing and launching such a weapon – yet an EMP blast, properly done, can kill those people and more – indirectly. Why would a nuclear weapon detonated 250 miles above Earth be harmful? It makes no sound (there is no air in space to carry the sound of the explosion); there is no fallout from the blast; the shockwave would bounce harmlessly off the atmosphere…. how can this be so deadly?
STARFISH PRIME – GRANDDADDY TO ALL EMPs 59 minutes and 51 second before midnight, July 8, 1962 (Honolulu time), a W49 thermonuclear warhead launched by the United States detonated over the South Pacific. Part of a series of tests called Operation Fishbowl; Starfish prime utilized a 1.44 megaton warhead that detonated 250 miles above the Earth, in space. As the warhead detonated, an extremely bright but very brief flash of light appeared in the sky; followed by a green glow for a moment and then the sky turned bright red where the bomb had exploded. To give an idea of the size of this nuclear bomb – it was many thousands of times more powerful than that dropped up Hiroshima. Starfish Prime was not the first nuke detonated at altitude, but it was the first altitude 7
EMP SURVIVAL detonation that was extensively studied. Altitude bursts before that had been hasty and ill documented –Starfish Prime changed all that by being one of the best studied EMP blasts to date. The first thing that scientists noticed after the detonation was that the electromagnetic pulse generated by the blast was far, far larger than expected. How much larger than expected is difficult to measure, as the blast drove most of the instruments off scale and thus made it hard to take accurate readings until much later. An amazing auroral light display lit up most of the South Pacific due to the blast, which temporarily affected the Earth’s magnetosphere. The effects of the blast were completely unanticipated and tremendousin Hawaii, close to 900 miles away, extensive electrical damaged was seen- 300 street lights were knocked out as well as a phone company microwave link damaged, cutting off Kauai’s telephone communications from the other islands. Over 100 burglar alarms were set off. The radiation cloud from the blast alone destroyed five United States satellites and one Soviet satellite, shutting down television broadcasts. Starfish Prime created an EMP many orders of magnitude larger than was calculated by its scientists. However, the reason for this would not be discovered until some time later. As American scientists and military personnel pondered the amazing results of what they had just witnessed, Russian scientists were hard at work undertaking a test of their own….
SOVIET TEST 184 In direct response to Starfish Prime, the Soviets also started working on a series of altitude detonations of nuclear devices. What prompted this wasn’t so much their desire to study the effects of these bursts (they were already doing so), rather, it was just more cold war era saber rattling that was extremely common at the time. Showing how little the Russians knew of the true effects of EMP, they launched a relatively small 300 kiloton warhead into space above a highly populated area in Kazakhstan on October 22, 1962. Riding on a Soviet R-12 missile, this nuke was far less powerful than the Starfish Prime bomb – by an order of magnitude – and went off in the early morning hours, 180 miles above Earth. 8
EMP SURVIVAL The electromagnetic pulse that resulted from this was to be the worst EMP strike in history. Not only did it knock out a power line over 600 miles long, it caused a major fire in the power plant it was connected to, as well as other random fires due to electrical systems overheating. The EMP also destroyed a 400 plus mile telephone line by inducing massive currents within it, blowing every fuse on the line as well as every gas filled over-voltage protector. It affected diesel generators with absolutely no electronic components, damaged all kinds of radios, and even knocked out a radar unit 600 miles away. The results of Test 184 were simply catastrophic and totally unanticipated. Incidentally, Test 184 was accomplished with a nuclear warhead that was not designed to produce the maximum EMP effect. Had the Soviets used a nuke like the one on Starfish Prime, the results would have been far, far worse. Additionally, Starfish Prime occurred in an extremely unpopulated area – mostly open ocean. Test 184 was set off over a well industrialized area which exacerbated the EMP’s effects. One thing needs to be borne in mind when considering damage done by the EMP strike: The year was 1962. There were relatively few electronics present in everyday homes (especially in Soviet Russia), no cellular phones, no Internet, and no well established power grid. As a matter of fact, the infrastructure in place in Kazakhstan in 1962 could only be called primitive. What if something like this had been deployed over the continental United States today? To understand what an EMP is (and is not) one needs to gain a basic concept of how it works and why it is so potentially devastating.
THE SCIENCE OF EMPS
Simply put, an EMP is an electromagnetic wave of energy that happens as a result of a nuclear detonation. It is important to note, however, that nuclear detonations are not the only sources of EMPs – conventional explosive devices can create EMPs as well, although they are considerably less powerful in nature. Solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) from the sun can also wreak havoc with Earth’s magnetic field and cause EMP like effects – in some 9
EMP SURVIVAL cases, just as powerful (or greater) as anything humankind could potentially generate, but once again, very different from a classic nuclear EMP. When we see EMPs depicted in media such as film or television, however, we think of them in the conventional sense – the product of a nuclear detonation. EMPs were discovered concurrently with the advent of nuclear weapons and have been known of since at least the early 1940s. Each time a nuclear weapon was detonated, scientists noted that a powerful electromagnetic burst was generated and that this burst dramatically affected electronics and electronic devices in the immediate area.
NUCLEAR EMPs A nuclear electromagnetic pulse differs significantly from a nonnuclear pulse. A nuclear pulse is not just one pulse, but a multi pulse event with three significant components: E1, E2, and E3. These components are a product of the nuclear blast – the whole system functions as follows:
EMP SURVIVAL 1. Launch: Before an EMP can occur, the weapon must reach a high enough altitude. Optimum altitudes for nuclear detonations are from between 80 miles to 300 miles in altitude as measured from the surface of the earth. The higher the altitude, the more effective the EMP can be over a larger area, as it “sees” further over the horizon. Consider for a moment that it essentially takes a rocket to be able to place the nuclear device at that altitude. In the case of Starfish Prime, for example, the rocket carrying the W49 warhead was launched to an altitude of 680 miles and then it essentially began to descend – when it reached an altitude of 250 miles, the warhead was activated and the nuclear explosion occurred. It is common to detonate the warhead on the down slope to ensure accurate altitude placement of the weapon. 2. Detonation: The nuclear weapon detonates conventionally as any other nuclear weapon would. Interestingly, what is effective as a ground weapon is not necessarily the best choice of weapon to produce an EMP. Keep in mind that desirable destructive features such as yield and overpressure don’t necessarily help a nuke produce a formidable EMP. An excellent weapon for EMP purposes is designed as such from the start, and may even compromise destructive capability on the ground to achieve maximum EMP effects. A high yield fission weapon is the most desirable type of weapon for this sort of operation. 3. E1 Burst: The first part of the tripartite multi pulse that an EMP begins with is the E1 component. As gamma radiation from the detonation punches electrons out of atoms high in the atmosphere, these electrons begin to travel downwards towards the Earth at incredible speeds – almost the speed of light. As the electrons travel downwards, they encounter the Earth’s magnetic field, which aligns them at right angles to itself. It is this combination of fast travel and magnetic alignment that causes the E1 pulse – an extremely large but brief wave of energy. The strength of this wave is in part dependent on where the burst happens; the geomagnetic field of the Earth is different in various locations due to the tilt of the earth. What this results in is large U shaped patterns for EMPs in the northern and southern 11
EMP SURVIVAL hemispheres, and more conventional circular type bursts around equatorial regions. Essentially, the action of the gamma rays knocking out electrons in the stratosphere causes the whole region to behave like a giant electrical conductor. The energy wave occurs just nanoseconds after the blast and can have strength of 50,000 volts per meter or 6.6 Megawatts per square meter – exceptionally powerful. It is important to note that the E1 component of the EMP burst is responsible for the destruction of sensitive electronics such as computers and communications equipment. The pulse travels too fast and changes too quickly for surge protectors and the like to adequately protect the component. Additionally, natural events such as solar storms and coronal mass ejections do not produce the E1 component of an electromagnetic pulse – E1 is peculiar to nuclear detonations. 4. E2 Burst: The E2 burst follows on the heels of the E1 burst and essentially wreaks more havoc. This phase lasts from approximately one microsecond to one second after the E1 pulse. The E2 pulse is akin to a lightning strike and is thus relatively easy to protect against using conventional means. The problem, however, is that most of these means would have been negatively affected or even knocked out by the preceding E1 burst and thus any protection they may have offered would be nullified, allowing the power surge to go past them and cause destruction. 12
EMP SURVIVAL 5. E3 Burst: Like a column of armor rolling in to reinforce a town that has been laid to siege by an invading army, the E3 pulse rolls in after the first two have done their damage and causes yet more. This is a slow pulse, lasting potentially minutes after the first two. The E3 pulse mimics a natural solar storm and can cause the same sorts of effects on infrastructure. What E3 bursts do is induce huge currents in long conductors – things like pipelines, telephone lines, and power lines – anything that is a long conductor. The longer the conductor, the more current can be induced, which is another reason why the effects of Starfish Prime on Hawaii weren’t as big as they could have been – the tiny islands can’t produce conductors long enough. The 600 mile long power lines in Kazakhstan, however, were excellent conductors for this awesome power during Test 184. Generally low voltage lines like telephone lines suddenly found themselves carrying currents as high as 3400 amps just 20 seconds after the warhead detonated during Test 184. This was enough to fry every single over-voltage device on the line. While solar storms produce the E3 component of the blast, they cannot produce the E1 and E2 components of the EMP, as these are peculiar to the nuclear detonation. Combined, the E1/E2/E3 components create a formidable weapon that is capable of knocking out power, ruining communications devices, and causing irreparable harm to our nation.
ALTITUDE – ANOTHER EMP CONSIDERATION The effects of an EMP were found to be dramatically intensified when the nuclear weapon was detonated at progressively higher altitudes. Two things happen when a nuclear weapon is detonated in the air at altitude: Firstly, the actual damage from the bomb itself is minimized…the higher the weapon is detonated, the smaller the effects are from radiation, shockwave and overpressure. As a matter of fact, a nuke detonated in space has essentially no effect on those even directly below. Why then, would anyone want to detonate a nuclear weapon in the sky? It’s the second part that’s the clincher. The higher a nuclear weapon is detonated altitude wise, the greater the effects of an EMP. A conventional nuclear weapon detonated at 13
EMP SURVIVAL 400 kilometers of altitude could cause an EMP so widespread that it would affect the entire continent of North America. This is because the Earth’s magnetic field deflects the energy from an EMP sideways, broadening its scope over a massive area. The term used to connote the altitude of a burst is HOB – or height of burst. To give an idea of the size of the affected area of a burst, an HOB of 100km (60 miles) would affect an area of about half of the United States. An HOB of 300km would create an EMP that would engulf ¾ of the United States, while an HOB of 500km, detonated over, say, Kansas, would result in an electromagnetic pulse that would consume the entire United States, most of Southern Canada, and most of Northern Mexico – a massive area. When one considers the number of people who live in that combined area, it is simply staggering. All of these altitudes for HOB are possible within the realm of technology available by a number of countries in the world today.
YIELD – BIGGER IS NOT NECESSARILY BETTER The yield of a nuclear device is its size as expressed in kilotons or megatons. A kiloton is simply a thousand tons of Trinitrotoluene (TNT). This means that a one kiloton nuclear bomb has the same explosive energy as one thousand tons of TNT. A megaton is a million tons equivalent of TNT. To gain some perspective, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was approximately 12-15 kilotons in size, which is considered to be very small by today’s standards. While a high megaton bomb is desirable for ground based destruction, realize that even relatively small and compact nuclear devices of the fission type are far more suited to producing pronounced EMP effects. Large thermonuclear devices ionize the air around them, making them less conducive to EMPs as opposed to smaller fission nukes of a smaller yield.
LAUNCH METHODS OF NUCLEAR EMP DEVICES Clearly, whoever seeks to deploy an EMP nuke must have a way to get it to an altitude that is sufficient for the purposes of widespread EMP damage. Realize that launching a nuclear strike on the United States is an unpalatable scenario for even the most rabid of rogue 14
EMP SURVIVAL nations. There is no nation on the planet today that has the nuclear capabilities of America; even the Soviet Union in its day could not match us nuke for nuke. An EMP represents an excellent weapon for use against the US since it can be launched fairly discretely in a variety of methods. Sure, any one of these nations could simply launch a nuclear bomb at us and destroy one of our cities, but a carefully targeted EMP strike could potentially destroy our whole country using the same bomb. Delivery methods for these EMP devices are essentially anything that flies, but with a few caveats. In theory, a fixed wing aircraft or drone could be used to deliver an EMP, but there are several problems with this scenario. First and foremost, United States airspace is highly monitored. Secondly, not many aircraft could achieve altitudes that would magnify an EMP burst – the type of EMP that an aircraft could deliver at say, 35-40,000 feet would affect a single city and perhaps its suburbs, if that. A balloon is a stupid simple method for delivery of an EMP device. Before Starfish Prime, America tested a ship launched balloon nuke comprised of a 128 foot plastic balloon with a suspended warhead attached. Launched in 1958, the test was named Hardtack Yucca and used a relatively small 1.7 kiloton warhead detonated at 85,000 feet. It is notable that the nuclear device weighed only 218 pounds, the weight of a decent sized man and not much larger in footprint. While the test itself did not produce a particularly pronounced EMP effect, it should be noted that both nuclear technology and balloon altitudes have increased since 1958 – modern balloons can rise as high as 120,000 feet in altitude and nuclear devices are more powerful for their size. Still, Hardtack Yucca produced an EMP effect over 350 square miles from detonation. Imagine something like that on the densely populated East Coast – it is enough to do some serious damage. Balloons are advantageous in that they are available and don’t look like missiles or aircraft on radar, and thus, are not likely to be intercepted. Also, a group with even the most rudimentary skills can launch them – one need only observe weather patterns and make a few simple calculations to put the balloon where it needs to be in order to have the maximum EMP effect. 15
EMP SURVIVAL Lastly, rockets and missiles are primarily the most effective method of launching nuclear devices into space for the maximum EMP effect. Most first, second, and even some third world countries have the ability to do this. Rogue nations can easily purchase this sort of technology, and launching a rocket 250 miles into space is not a particularly difficult endeavor. The ability to deliver an EMP from a rocket is one of the reasons why the United States becomes particularly concerned when nations like North Korea start performing launch tests, be they rockets or even satellites. On first blush it might seem like America is a sort of belligerent control freak, but on careful observation, one sees that it would be incredibly easy for a country like North Korea to launch a “television satellite” packed with a nuclear device into orbit 300 miles up, and then detonate it at the time of their choosing directly over the United States. The primary disadvantage with a rocket or missile launch is that it will activate any number of missile defense systems and may not reach its intended target. Additionally, identification of where the rogue missile came from would also incur some serious backlash for whoever sent it.
SUPER EMP If something could go from bad to worse, a Super EMP is probably it. As stated earlier, EMPs were discovered to be a byproduct of nuclear detonations and only really noticed when altitude was involved in the burst. A ground detonated nuke will have extremely localized EMP effects. Conversely, nuclear warheads have been modified and enhanced to produce an even more powerful EMP effect at the cost of destructive performance – which simply doesn’t matter 300 miles up in space. While no hard data exists to support the fact that Super EMP weapons even exist – after all, these are still highly classified areas of research, science helps us understand they may be entirely possible. Most public nuclear weapons test results such as the ones from the Hardtack and Starfish Prime series of tests speak of weapons that can produce 50,000 volts per meter of energy on the ground – but keep in mind we are speaking of weapons designed and built in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In its report to the nation, the United States 16
EMP SURVIVAL EMP Commission states that there are nuclear weapons in existence that can produce voltages of up to 200,000 volts per meter below the detonation – four times what something like Starfish Prime could generate. While details on these types of weapons are understandably scarce, it is likely that the United States and other advanced countries possess such weapons. Anecdotal evidence also tells us that such weapons are potentially easy to create once the base nuclear weapon is extant.
NON NUCLEAR EMP The ability to generate a powerful electromagnetic pulse is highly desirable for use in warfare. It does, however, come with some serious drawbacks, the greatest of which is the detonation of a nuclear bomb. No country since 1945 has wanted to detonate a nuke in anger – it is the ultimate act of aggression. Even though tactical nukes of small sizes are available to armies for mundane tasks such as bunker busting and limited, targeted strikes, they are never used. The use of nuclear weapons is simply not palatable in this day and age. Scientists have developed methods of developing EMPs on a smaller scale, and these devices are collectively referred to as Non Nuclear EMP (NNEMP) devices. There are several ways of accomplishing the goal of creating an EMP without using nuclear weapons, but there are some drawbacks to this. Firstly, since not much on planet Earth has as much sheer, intense power as a nuclear detonation, these NNEMPs do not produce an EMP anywhere near close to the scale of a nuke. Additionally, these devices are mostly designed to be deployed on land rather than at altitude and thus the area affected by the EMP would be smaller. While details on NNEMPs are highly classified, we can surmise from some of the various designs (some of which date back to the 1950s) that these weapons would be highly effective on small area targets such as portions of cities, individual buildings or building complexes, and similar areas of that size. NNEMP is a broad term used to categorize many different types of weapons of dissimilar designs. One of the most common methods of 17
EMP SURVIVAL generating an NNEMP is through a device called a Flux Compression Generator (FCG). An FCG is nothing more than an armature consisting of a metal cylinder surrounded by a stator winding and filled with high explosive that is set off by a fuze. The stator is charged by a separate power source such as a bank of capacitors. The principle on which it works is a simple one. The high explosive is detonated within the armature and the explosion causes the stator wires to short circuit. As the explosion travels down the cylinder, it pushes the short circuit forward, compressing the magnetic field and sending it moving forward. The result is an intense burst of electromagnetism and the generation of a powerful, instantaneous field. Another method of generating an NNEMP is from a device called a Marx Generator. Used by giant laboratories, Marx Generators are essentially capacitor driven pulse generators that create lightning like effects and are mainly used to simulate lighting and EMPs. Requiring vast amounts of energy, equipment, and resources, large Marx Generators are limited in use to governments and not specifically designed as weapons. As with most other NNEMP devices, they generate a smaller, more localized EMP. It is impossible to know how much of a threat a NNEMP might be to civilian targets since not much is known about these devices. They are limited in scope for a number of reasons, but mainly because there is no way that high explosive can ever generate but a tiny fraction of the energy a nuclear blast can. Still, it should be noted that for a specific small area target, a NNEMP device might make a great weapon, a weapon capable of crippling a facility or complex just prior to it being overrun by conventional methods.
POTENTIAL EFFECTS OF EMP
Needless to say, an EMP device detonated over a populated area would be a life changing event for millions of people. There are many reasons why EMP could potentially be the most harmful weapon to ever be deployed against a population and many affected sectors. The reason why an EMP is so devastating is that it has long term effects: It doesn’t wipe out food; it wipes out our ability to make food. It doesn’t wipe out emergency medicine; it wipes out our 18
EMP SURVIVAL ability to administer emergency medicine. It doesn’t wipe out our military; it wipes out most of our military’s ability to communicate, which negatively affects it. Anyone who has lived through the effects of a serious power outage knows how detrimental life can be without power, but an EMP makes it far worse. As soon as the lights go out in a power failure, you have a reasonable expectation that someone is working on getting them on again, and that power will be restored soon. In an EMP scenario, this expectation might be completely false: it might take thousands of people years to restore systems to the way they were prior to an EMP strike. The reasons for this deal with the fact that we have never been subjected to a scenario in which not only the power is out, but the phones don’t work, nor does the technician’s radio; the repair truck won’t start and all the replacement parts are rendered useless junk by the EMP. In order to examine the effects of EMP, one must look at each individual sector that might be affected.
CONTROL SYSTEMS There is very little in the realm of power, water or natural gas distribution that is manually operated any longer. Pipelines of all kinds as well as power lines all extensively use remote control systems to control the flow of whatever they are transporting. These sorts of systems are controlled by computers, robots as it were, and are critical to the operation of these systems. Known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, these computers allow us to monitor and control vast geographical grids of resources that would be impossible to manage in a timely fashion if operated by humans. Whether the system monitors the flow of water or gas in a pipeline, or the voltage in a power line, whether it automatically shuts off valves or starts protective circuits in the event of failures, SCADA is everywhere. SCADA systems are also designed into the way our power, water, and gas infrastructure works – they aren’t simply backup systems that play a passive role. These control systems monitor critical infrastructure parameters – temperature, voltage, pressure, and a host of other features that are not actively monitored by people 19
EMP SURVIVAL anymore. Failure of a SCADA system results in the destruction of sensitive equipment, plain and simple. Interestingly, most of these critical “brain boxes” aren’t hardened or protected against EMP in any way. While they aren’t linked to the long conductor lines that would fry them in an E3 component wave (such as a solar storm), they are extremely vulnerable to an EMP’s E1 component wave and would most likely be instantly destroyed after an EMP burst. The immediate effect is damage to critical infrastructure systems such as gas, power, and electrical transmission lines. Cutting the power doesn’t just kill the lights; it kills the water and gas as well! The destruction or malfunction of the SCADA brain boxes due to EMP is potentially catastrophic in and of itself: SCADA systems have failed due to other than EMP causes in the past; the results were burst gas lines, explosions, fires, overheating, and massive chemical spills which have caused death and destruction in the affected areas. Now imagine that the affected area is the entire country, and you get an idea on why just failure of SCADA systems alone would be an event that would be hard to recover from. It is because these systems are linked that a cascading domino effect occurs, and while there is a huge amount of fault tolerance and redundancy built in to our infrastructure, there is no anticipated scenario planned for in which all the nodes on a system are destroyed.
“EMP kills all the power” is the statement made by most people who are uninitiated to the true threat of EMPs. Certainly power loss is one of the major aspects of EMP and the best known. However, the reasons why power will be affected aren’t that well known to the general public. Most people simply don’t understand the complex interdependency between resources of how power is actually made. In many cases, it takes power to make power. Coal fired power plants, for example, need the resources of a mining corporation actually getting the coal prior to being able to make power. If the power plant can’t get the coal, it can’t make power. Should an EMP strike in an area where coal is being mined and subsequently knock out the mining company’s resources, a power plant even outside the 20
EMP zone won’t be able to produce power. It’s this interdependence that’s so detrimental in the event of an EMP strike, and there’s not much that can be done about it. Consider for a moment that the power grid is the largest piece of infrastructure in North America. There is nothing that even comes close to the scale of what it takes to maintain a grid that runs from coast to coast, through big cities, and through sleepy rural areas. It is a massive apparatus that is closely linked to other infrastructures that are also vulnerable to EMP. The other problem that we face is that the power grid is already relatively fragile and is able to be affected by relatively modest upsets as it is. Many power generation plants are over 50 years old, and even mundane and run of the mill occurrences affect the grid. Recall the Southern California power failure of September 2011. A crew was servicing a power transformer in Arizona which malfunctioned – the resulting cascade of power loss made its way down the system until moments later, nearly all of Southern California was without power. This unprecedented power failure wiped out power from South Los Angeles all the way to the Mexican border – from the Pacific Ocean all the way to Arizona, affecting millions of people. The power was out for over 12 hours, causing chaos in rush hour traffic, rendering street lights inoperative, 21
EMP SURVIVAL killing cell phone towers, and causing lines to form at gas stations because people were unaware that the pumps did not work because there was no power. This was a power failure, albeit a major one. What if an EMP had struck and the whole country was like that?? Also realize that emergency generators, typically used by critical infrastructure, usually only have approximately 72 hours of fuel supplies on hand, primarily because power failures don’t last that long. Additionally, there is no guarantee that they will work in the event of an EMP strike – amazingly, some Soviet diesel generators used during Test 184 were knocked out by the EMP burst – and they had no electronics within - just simple diesel generators thought by most to be impervious to EMP. To understand why the power grid is so vulnerable, one needs to realize that most aspects of power generation are monitored and controlled by sensitive electronics and microprocessors that are vulnerable to the E1 pulse from an EMP. Additionally, the infrastructures that support the power grid are also extremely dependent on computers and microprocessors. The previously mentioned SCADA systems are everywhere in the power grid – they control almost every aspect of it! Also, electrical power plants themselves are extremely sensitive to improper shutdowns, which would occur because of the E1 pulse of the EMP – you couldn’t simply flip a switch on a modern power generation plant and turn it off. The many interconnected systems require computer control to make sure they get shut down in the proper way – shutting them off incorrectly damages components. An example of this is 22
EMP SURVIVAL in a coal fired power plant – the intake and exhaust turbines must function together, or else the potential for explosion of the furnace could occur. This is serious damage that could take months to fix – assuming there is power available to do so! The icing on the cake is that even if the damage from the EMP could be repaired, all power generation plants require power from another source to restart. This power is used to drive pumps, run control systems, and spin up systems that are required to actually make the power. Replacing damaged power plant components is another awful prospect. Things like turbine blades, control systems, pumps, and other systems take weeks to months to obtain in normal conditions – not conditions where the manufacturing plant itself is inoperative and every power plant in the country is screaming for parts. The longer the power plants are down, the more the populace in general will suffer and the worse the effects of the EMP will be. Power transmission is also a problem, since even though a power plant can be made functional, it needs to have its lines, stations, and substations operative in order to get power to homes and businesses. We know that the E3 pulse of the EMP acts heavily on long, conductive transmission lines, overloading them with current. The geomagnetic storm of 1989 for example, produced a massive East Coast power failure in Quebec – it took only 92 seconds from when the wave hit to effect complete shutdown of the Quebec grid, which fried all sorts of systems almost instantly, leaving 6 million people without power for almost 9 hours – and this was from natural causes! Some of the transmission generators and specialized equipment used in power generation are also not even manufactured in this country. Certain transformers are made overseas and have a lead time of several years in normal conditions. When the power goes out due to EMP, expect it to be out for months, perhaps years. Finally, repairing power generation and transmission equipment requires vast amounts of skilled labor, and frankly, more labor than currently exists in power systems today. These power repair teams must be mobile so that they can travel to where the damaged components are, which may be impossible if an EMP disables vehicles or the ability to fuel them. Also, how are these crews 23
EMP SURVIVAL expected to know where there is damage if critical communications are down? It will be extremely difficult to dispatch these crew members without communications in place, once again slowing the recovery efforts.
COMMUNICATIONS Without any detailed analysis, it’s easy to state that communications will not function without power – that is the starting point for all of the EMP related disaster scenarios. It’s a little deeper than that, however, with far more sinister implications in the long run. Life operates on communications and the ready use of them. From the hundreds of millions of cellular phone subscribers to the Internet, modern communications are a marvel and a thing of magic that we take for granted. Commutes and work have grown to the point that instantaneous and reliable communications are necessary for most anything to function. First responders such as police, fire, and ambulance crews depend on communications in order to get their jobs done. People are trained to pick up the phone and dial 911 in the event of almost any kind of emergency. None of this usage is shrinking; in fact, it’s growing by leaps and bounds. Ten year old children now have cell phones so their parents can keep track of them. Pensioners who are in their eighties are using things like Skype to video conference with their relatives. Working from home or telecommuting is now a viable proposition. Our nation’s military also extensively uses communications in ways never before used. Just twenty years ago, a platoon of soldiers (approximately 45 soldiers depending on the configuration) would have had a single radio operator to communicate with higher headquarters. Today it is not uncommon for each soldier to have a GPS link and access to a military network so that he may transmit vital information from the battlefield to superiors instantly, complete with video and voice capability. Unit commanders all have secure, reliable methods of communications on their persons and are able to communicate via satellite uplink instantaneously. Thankfully, most communications nodes and centers, be they civilian or military, are already relatively hardened since they are set up to 24
EMP SURVIVAL account for things such as lightning strikes and geomagnetic storms. Many of these facilities are secured, shielded, and fundamentally sound since the electronics equipment within is highly sensitive. Cellular networks are viewed as being less robust and easier to damage than landline networks, but landline usage is rapidly falling out of favor for civilian communications. Many people have not had a landline in years due to lack of use and redundancy. While the overall prognosis for communications networks hit by EMP is relatively favorable, with many systems predicted to be down for only hours or days, the big problem is that these systems need power to run. It’s like having a perfectly functioning automobile with no gas to fuel it – it doesn’t really matter if the car works if it can’t be fueled! Much of the reason that communications networks fare so well is that long communications trunks that used to be copper wiring (and thus susceptible to E3 burst) are now fiber optic cables, which are non conductive. Additionally, there are other factors to think of that might not seem apparent on the surface. Even if limited power is available to run the phone networks, these networks will be quickly overcome and inundated with call volumes that will cripple them. The first thing people do when they encounter an emergency is to reach for the phone. As demonstrated in natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes, people tend to overload the local phone system to the point that it doesn’t work. Also, as in Hurricane Katrina, backup generators eventually ran out of fuel just days after the power failed, and thus emergency communications were non existent at the time people needed them most.
MONEY AND FINANCE INFRASTRUCTURE Gone are the days where each bank kept a hand written ledger of who held what amount in which account. Just about everything about finance is electronic, and even banks don’t keep the money on hand that their depositors actually have in their accounts. In fact, the total money that exists in most banks is not available in physical forms and hasn’t been for years. Your account balance exists on a computer somewhere. Imagine for a minute what happens as 25
EMP SURVIVAL you use an ATM – the machine reads your card, interfaces with the bank’s computers (many hundreds of miles away), checks to see that you have funds available, and then dispenses funds to you. It then communicates to the bank once again, recording that you have withdrawn these funds, noting your adjusted balance. Most people simply don’t use cash anymore and even the use of ATMs if falling out of favor since virtually every financial transaction is handled electronically. From buying a coffee and newspaper at the local diner to purchasing a vehicle or home, most all transactions are electronic in nature. Cash is more and more suspect as counterfeiters become more sophisticated and large denominations are closely scrutinized. On a larger scale, stock and commodities markets are essentially electronic. While some markets still have actual floor traders, the bulk of their transactions are traded electronically and have been for years. One simply does not buy stocks or commodities by putting cash in the hand of a broker, who then hands it to a floor trader, and consummates the trade. This is not the way stocks and commodities are traded anymore. Virtually everything finance related, from the record keeping to the actual currency, happens electronically. Because of this, many financial hubs and data centers are relatively hardened, complete 26
EMP SURVIVAL with backup power, generators, climate control, and hardened concrete construction. EMP strikes, however, pose a significant risk to the financial system. Because an EMP burst moves at the speed of light, it has the speed and force to disable and damage computers that hold financial records almost instantly. Whereas there are magnetic tape and CD backups, those require power to operate and reload into the system, much of which will have been instantly destroyed by an EMP attack. On the lowest level, how can you take out money to buy food if the bank doesn’t know how much money you have on deposit, or even if you have any money at all? It is a frightening scenario for sure. Essentially the loss of the financial services industry due to EMP strike would stop the American economy in its tracks. If no one can buy or sell because the fact that electronic money has simply vanished, life cannot continue as it has been. Drastic countermeasures will need to be rolled out. Paper currency will no longer be trusted, and things like tangibles and precious metals will be king. It is impossible to run a modern bank based on paper transactions anymore. Banks are not single branch mom and pop facilities; they are giant multinational corporations that require extensive electronics systems to operate. Also, imagine the rampant panic that would be caused once people realized that ATMs did not work, thus hindering them from purchasing food, fuel, and other necessities – the conditions would be ripe for a riot on a scale previously not witnessed in the United States.
THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY Besides its use in national operations, at the local level, everything uses petroleum and natural gas. Whether it fuels the transport of our food, runs out cars or heats our homes, petroleum and natural gas are an inseparable part of modern life. Besides its immediate use in transportation and heating, petroleum products are directly responsible for manufacturing all of the composite and plastic goods that we rely on. Most everything we come into contact with daily is made of plastic, from our cars to our computers and much more.
EMP SURVIVAL The petroleum industry represents a target of vulnerability from EMP; not only does it extensively use all of the previously mentioned SCADA systems, it has over 180,000 miles of highly conductive gas pipelines and 100,000 miles of oil pipelines. When the small lines that bring natural gas to individual homes and businesses are accounted for, there are close to 1.8 million miles of gas lines out there! All of these pipelines rely on a series of electrically operated valves and control systems to operate. Electric pumps move oil where it needs to go and maintain line pressure. The effects of EMP on the oil and natural gas pipeline system range from service disruption all the way to severe damage in cases where pressures exceed the allowable amount and pipes leak or burst. Leaking oil causes fires and extensive contamination, while leaking natural gas is a fire and explosion hazard – neither are pretty scenarios. Clearly, refineries and processing plants run on the extensive use of electricity to operate the systems they use. Electricity is an inseparable part of making oil and gas and refining it, and while a short outage would not affect these systems, a prolonged outage of weeks to months would cause irreparable harm to the economy and the American way of life. 28
TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE In a world where nothing is made locally, goods need to find their way from point A to point B. Supermarkets, for example, produce nothing locally – most of what you see on store shelves arrived their either by ground based truck deliveries or rail. Everything moves; nothing is made or consumed locally anymore. Our vast country is interconnected via a complex system of roads and rail lines as well as by sea and air transportation routes. All of these deliveries hinge on modern computer systems that track where the freight originated from, where it’s going and where it currently is. Virtually no aspect of the information management of a transportation system is performed manually anymore. Realize that it’s not simply loaves of bread that are being transported – the single largest transportation item in the country is the transportation of coal that is shipped to power generation plants! Without these vital shipments, the power plants cannot produce the power we need to function. Each year, over 700 million tons of coal is shipped via rail in the United States alone, and the power plants that use it are constantly demanding it. Most power plants only have several days of coal reserves on hand at any given time meaning that even a small transportation disruption could potentially be a serious problem. 29
EMP SURVIVAL Railroad control and signal systems have been computerized for some time now and railroad control centers have been found to have little or no hardening against EMP in place. The bottom line on this is that if the power is out for longer than 24-48 hours, the railroad system will need to switch back to manual routing and control, which will seriously affect the performance of the rail system. Modern locomotives, incidentally, are completely dependent on microprocessors to control virtually every part of the operation of the locomotive. While there are older locomotives in service that do not use computer control, these comprise a tiny part of the fleet and are rapidly being replaced by modern locomotives that are totally susceptible to EMP. On the automobile and trucking side, it’s safe to say that are lives are dependent in every way to the automobile and commercial truck. From the daily commute to work all the way up to delivering food to our grocery stores every day, modern life is simply not sustainable without transportation in place. Consider that trucks deliver food to stores, restaurants and gas to our gas stations; they are our fire fighting and emergency vehicles as well. The effects of EMP upon the transportation system of this nation are potentially staggering. First of all, even low levels of EMP activity can negatively affect street lights, which could lead to all sorts of accidents. Additionally, cars and trucks are more and more dependent upon computer control for operation. While it’s a common EMP myth that all modern cars would cease to function after an EMP strike, certainly a portion of the cars and trucks on the road would fail. The sensitive ignition and control systems of some vehicles would most certainly fail upon the initial EMP strike. Contrary to popular belief, many of these cars would not be permanently damaged. This is because in many modern computer driven vehicles, EMP causes a sort of “lock up” in the electrical circuitry of the vehicle, which can be rectified by removing the battery cables for a few moments then replacing them, thereby rebooting the vehicle’s systems. Some vehicles would be damaged beyond repair, and this is unavoidable. Consider for a moment that 30
EMP SURVIVAL in a major urban area an entire freeway system with millions of cars upon it can be brought to a halt by a single accident involving one or two cars. Gridlock ensues when even a single car is stalled on the freeway. Even if an EMP strike disables only ten percent of the cars out there (estimates point to much higher numbers), the resulting disabled vehicles would cause utter chaos on a scale heretofore unseen. These vehicles would need to be cleared from the roads by other vehicles that were operational, but first, these recovery vehicles would have to get there in the first place through the congestion, and have the fuel to do so. Where it pertains to maritime transportation, modern ports are hubs of electronics activity with remote wireless systems cataloging every single one of the tens of thousands of containers on site at any given time. Also, the cranes that offload the ships are heavily computerized, and no loading or offloading activity can occur while these systems are inoperative. Realize that almost all of our imported goods that come into the United States are shipped by maritime methods; it is an absolutely critical part of how we trade with other nations and obtain foreign products such as automobiles, computers, electronics, and other consumer goods. Lastly, air travel both for passenger transportation and freight is a critical part of our lives. The country depends on air freight, for example, for the transport of critical components that need to be somewhere overnight. There is no faster method of transportation in the country. Clearly, air traffic control systems rely heavily on electricity to operate. Every aspect of air travel involves electronics at some phase or another, whether it’s the actual flying of the plane to the tracking of the craft on radar. What is frightening about a potential EMP strike is that while modern aircraft are built to ensure resistance to modern electromagnetic interference level, they are not hardened against a target EMP attack and could be vulnerable in flight. The grounding of all aircraft after an EMP strike could cripple the nation’s transportation infrastructure.
EMP SURVIVAL FOOD PROCESSING INFRASTRUCTURE To say that it takes electricity, petroleum and water to make and process food is an understatement. All of these resources and more are critical to produce food. A farmer no longer works a manageable piece of land that he can till and plant by himself – modern farms are thousands upon thousands of acres that require complex irrigation systems and mechanized harvesting systems. A modern farm is incapable of being run without vast quantities of labor, power, and water. Just the water by itself is supplied to farms using an array of electrical pumps, manifolds, and complicated distribution systems, many of which are computerized. Cattle are milked using electrical devices; essentially, what was once performed by hand is now performed almost exclusively by machine. Additionally, just about any farm product produced, from meat to dairy, from vegetables to fruits, requires refrigeration during and after transport. Modern refrigeration is what allows Americans to go grocery shopping once per week as opposed to daily. Refrigeration requires enormous amounts of electricity, and even the smallest power outage increases the risk of food spoilage dramatically. Because of supply and demand considerations, supermarkets only keep a few days supplies on hand, the rest coming in the form of deliveries from centrally located warehouses on an as needed basis. Clearly, in the event of an emergency, when transportation is crippled, this food will not be able to reach consumers. The panic that may ensue would be staggering. The food service industry is inexorably tied to the power grid and it is quite simply vulnerable. Considering it takes at least one acre of farmland to feed a typical family, food supply will 32
EMP SURVIVAL need to be a priority for consideration during an EMP strike. Consider that the modern and gigantic mechanized farm that we know today replaced smaller, more labor intensive farms. These farms had lots of skilled farming labor, most of which has simply vanished. Machines now perform tasks that humans did and in the process, we collectively lost the skills to do these same tasks. Once upon a time, 40% of the US population used to live on a farm and thus were well acquainted with practices such as animal husbandry; now, less than 2% of the population lives on a farm, the rest have essentially no clue as to how a farm operates. Modern Americans are quite simply not used to starving and we are poorly adapted for hunger conditions. Most people do not have an adequate supply of food on hand for anything resembling a protracted emergency. After an EMP strike, something as basic as hunger would be a prime motivator for persons to loot, steal, and even kill those who have food. Even just a few days without food would be enough to make people delirious. Consider also that when your existence is primarily focused on finding food, one tends to neglect work. If work ceases, social order breaks down and anarchy can take root. The failure of modern refrigeration systems, besides depriving people of food, can also lead to disease and poisoning for those who chose to eat spoiled food out of necessity.
WATER - A MOST PRECIOUS COMMODITY The old survival paradigm is the rule of threes – a man can’t live for three weeks without food, three days without water, and three minutes without air. It’s an old adage and relatively accurate. Realize that three days without water is not very much time at all. While you might think you’re surrounded by water especially if you live next to a lake or stream, this is not the kind of water you want to make a habit of drinking unless it has been filtered. Water has always been a precious commodity and there’s no indication it will be any less precious after an EMP. Water purification plants and aqueducts are all subject to the control of SCADA systems and very vulnerable to EMP attack. Water is pumped across deserts, uphill, and underground. We use machinery to move and purify water – it doesn’t come from the ground to your well any longer. Cities exist 33
by having fresh water pumped into them; even a skyscraper needs an electric pump to get water to the upper floors. Needless to say, the entire water system in the United States is controlled and made possible by the power grid. Running water to drink and bathe in as well as wash excrement away with is the hallmark of a first world country. Countries that are poor, disease ridden, and under famine lack clean drinking water. In an emergency situation such as an EMP, it would be difficult to supply the water needs of the population without pumps and plumbing because of the logistics required to do something like move bottled water or water trucks into an area devoid of power. Also keep in mind wastewater and the treatment thereof. Another hallmark of a developed country is indoor plumbing – all that waste needs to go somewhere and backed up sewers are a recipe for disease. An EMP would most certainly affect the supply of water in a number of different ways. First off, the electricity required to make and move water would not be present. Secondly, the resupply of food stores would not be possible due to the fact that some vehicles would be inoperative as well as roads jammed with dead vehicles. Additionally, some people would attempt to use local sources of water such as 34
EMP SURVIVAL lakes and streams to drink from, but without electricity to boil the water in, it would be difficult to purify the water of contaminants that could cause sickness or disease. Many parts of the country, such as the Southwest, simply don’t have enough water sources within their borders to sustain the local population. The loss of drinking water could quite simply be one of the largest causes of human deaths not long after an EMP strikes.
EMERGENCY SERVICES If you’d have asked the question a hundred years ago: “Who do you call in case of an emergency?” You may have received ten different answers, or blank stares. Today, even the smallest kindergarten student knows that you call 911 for basically everything. Whether dad is yelling at mom, the house is on fire, the neighbor’s car has been broken into, or someone has slipped and fallen, 911 is the catch all. This is made possible by one of the most robust emergency services programs in the world. In most parts of the country, a call to 911 will result in the appearance of a fire truck, an ambulance, and maybe a police officer at the same time. That’s a lot of resources at a person’s disposal, and we should all be very thankful that this system exists. The problem with this scenario is there really aren’t enough emergency services personnel to go around. Realize that in Los Angeles County, for example, there are 100,000 first responders. This includes police, paramedics, and firefighters. It sounds like a formidable force, and it is – but not when you consider that there are 20 million people in the immediate area. One can surmise that the contingent of first responders will be seriously strained in the event of an EMP, which will see fires, deaths, looting, accidents, sickness, and much more. The first major problem besides lack of personnel will be the method of dispatching these services, which is currently accomplished via computer and radio, all susceptible to the E1 pulse of an EMP. Police, fire, and paramedics use a host of pagers, cellular phones, mobile navigation systems, and mobile computers to accomplish their 35
EMP SURVIVAL mission – that’s why they arrive so quickly – yet this equipment most likely will be inoperative. All emergency resources will be strained in the event of EMP and depending on the severity of the attack, all sorts of anarchist behavior might result just days after the strike once people are out of the necessities like food and water. Keep in mind that first responders also have families of their own to take care of, and as such many of them will be doing just that. The loss of on demand emergency services is a very real possibility for the bulk of the populace, either because they will have to wait hours or days for what used to take minutes, or they won’t receive a response at all.
SATELLITES AND SPACE SYSTEMS Realize that a nuclear burst in space that produces an EMP might negatively affect satellites – not necessarily from the EMP itself but from the nuclear detonation or radiation itself. Satellites are used for
EMP SURVIVAL communications, weather, positioning, and more; we have come to depend on them extensively for these tasks. GPS is a prime example of the utility of satellites, and perhaps as a prepper you may have cached an emergency supply somewhere and judiciously marked its GPS coordinates for future reference. Your cache might be incredibly difficult to locate without the use of GPS after an EMP strike! Additionally, even if a satellite survives the nuclear detonation, there is still a chance the EMP would have struck its ground control station, rendering the satellite inoperative anyways. We depend heavily on satellites to transmit signals worldwide and communicate large distances with other continents; this capability could be seriously degraded after an EMP.
WHAT IT ALL MEANS The combination of all these various services shutting down or being reduced significantly is what makes an EMP such a catastrophic event. In many cases, an EMP is much worse than a surface based nuclear blast. Think for a moment of a nuclear weapon of high yieldsay 15 megatons, hitting New York City. Deaths would number in the millions and much of the ground zero area would be inaccessible for years. The damage would be relatively contained within a few hundred miles in total. The rest of the nation would be affected by this event peripherally rather than directly. All of the people who died in the original blast wouldn’t need to be taken care of any longer – they’d be dead. Contrast this with an EMP. It strikes, everything goes down, everyone is affected, and save for a few that die in initial plane crashes, auto crashes, or power plant explosions, we would all be alive to fight over what resources remained while the rest died slowly of disease, starvation, and thirst. An EMP immediately brings an entire nation back a century technology wise – except none of us really knows how to live without modern conveniences anymore. Absolute chaos would reign and the worst part of it would be that there would be no switch to flip, no magic bullet to make it all go away. Recovery would take years to decades, and its probable the country might never recover at all. It might take a half century to make it back to today’s 37
EMP SURVIVAL population levels. In the case of something like Hurricane Katrina, it took almost half a decade to restore a sense of normalcy to New Orleans. Imagine what it would take to do the same for the whole country…
WHO WOULD DO THIS TO US ANYWAYS?
America is the last remaining superpower, and as such, receives a lot of criticism, scorn, and lip service from basically every other country on the globe. Sure, we have allies, but in an age where allegiances wither away and die amidst political pressure, what we are left with is fair weather friends. As for enemies, we have many. Besides entire nations who are against us, there are also a slew of organizations that hate us and would destroy us at any possible chance.
CHINA China is one of those “friendly” countries we could literally go to war with any second. Sure, the summits are all smiles, they own all of our debt, and they make all the goods we buy, but beneath their happy red surface, China is at ideological odds with the United States. If there is any other country that could be called a superpower, it’s certainly China – they have the means and the technology to launch an EMP strike if they so choose. Additionally, they already possess nuclear weapons. Their systems might not be as advanced as ours, but they certainly have the ability to do an EMP launch. RUSSIA An early developer of EMP technology and already possessing the means and wherewithal to carry it out, Russia is another “ally” that at one time had a very good reason to destroy us. The fall of the Soviet Union has softened antiAmerican sentiment some and there is 38
EMP SURVIVAL some good will out there. Still, Russia has some serious hard liners in its ranks (Vladimir Putin amongst them) that may seek to exploit America’s EMP vulnerability. Additionally, many of the former Soviet Union countries fell into stockpiles of nukes and other conventional weapons when the Soviet regime fell, and there are a shocking number of nukes unaccounted for in those countries. Like China, Russia is another country that we are supposedly not at war with but who shares a serious ideologically slant against America. Considering we fought proxy wars with Russia in a slew of locations around the globe, there are certainly many Russian extremists who would like to see us suffer.
NORTH KOREA An extremely hostile nation, still technically at war with South Korea after over 60 years, North Korea’s hatred of the United States has not diminished with the passing of Kim Jong Il. North Korea is actively engaged in testing ballistic missiles and developing nuclear technology with a military aim. Like the Soviets of ages past, North Korea has several factors that would make it extremely conducive to launching an EMP attack on the United States: Firstly, they are really the only radical communists left on the planet; secondly, they are completely xenophobic and view the United States as a threat to their life; and third, they spend an inordinate amount of their GDP on instruments of war. They have the means, the desire, and the ambition. IRAN Perhaps the most aggressive threat we face may come from Iran, who has been saber rattling for decades. Iran is rapidly developing nuclear capability and already has ballistic missiles in place. They have also tested them; they have recently tested several ship launched 39
EMP SURVIVAL ballistic missiles, even one with an apogee detonation that simulated an EMP burst. Iran is also extremely hostile towards the United States and would like nothing more than to see her destroyed.
TERRORISTS We already know terrorists like Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and others are at war with us based on the attacks they have wrought against us. Whether any of them possesses the wherewithal to obtain nuclear weapons and employ them against us is debatable, but what is a certainty is that they are most certainly trying. Hezbollah, funded directly by Iran, already possesses SCUD missiles, which are most certainly capable of transporting a warhead into orbit and detonating. Al Qaeda has already carried out some of the worst (and most innovative) attacks ever launched on US soil, so it’s safe to say that they too are extremely interested in crippling America. THE SUN – A NATURAL ENEMY While we’re sitting here discussing the launch of terrorist EMP strikes at America, it’s important to remember that our very own sun might decide to launch one of its own. Referred to as a geomagnetic storm, the sun itself is capable of launching EMP like effects and there is evidence to support that it has done so in the past – with great ferocity. While the E1 and E2 components of a nuclear strike are not present in a geomagnetic storm, the E3 component most certainly is and it is very powerful and long lasting. Recall that the E3 component was the piece that was capable of inducing massive currents into anything that conducts and is well capable of doing serious damage to the power grid. Scientists state that it is a virtual guarantee that a strong geomagnetic storm will happen within the next few decades. 40
EMP SURVIVAL Astronomers a century and a half ago began noticing solar activity with the advent of more powerful optics – one of these was Richard Carrington. In 1859, Carrington witnessed and recorded what was to be the largest solar storm in history, now known as the Carrington even. Carrington noticed huge Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) emanating from the sun – on September 1st and 2nd of 1859; the storm peaked, creating brilliant aurora borealis effects as far down as the Caribbean. These auroras were described as being brighter than the full moon, which gives you an idea of just how powerful the storm was. Since there was no power grid in place back then and only an extremely limited telegraph system, we have no idea how powerful the storm truly was or what effects it had on the people other than being a great curiosity. A smaller storm took place in March of 1989, one that was to leave an indelible mark on those concerned about EMP strikes. A powerful geomagnetic storm hit Quebec Hydro’s power grid, sending it from full operational to totally dead in 92 seconds flat. Six million people were left without power for over nine hours before the grid could be brought back online at significant cost. This storm produced auroras seen as far south as Texas. Realize that our telecommunications and technology systems in 1989 were nowhere near as advanced – and pervasive – as they are today and that we would be far more vulnerable to a geomagnetic storm today.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SURVIVE AN EMP
The simple fact is that unless you happen to be in an airplane, on life support, or otherwise dependent on some facet of technology to keep you alive, you will most likely survive the initial EMP burst. As stated earlier, an EMP in and of itself cannot harm humans. Most of the deaths that result from the EMP within the first fifteen minutes may be a result of the following: • Car accidents: An EMP has the capability of rendering your car inoperative. The car should exhibit symptoms of stalling out and glide to a stop. The brakes will still work. The accidents will arise from a host of stalled out vehicles being where some motorists won’t expect them (like stalled 41
EMP SURVIVAL out in the middle of a freeway). Careful vigilance while driving should mitigate most of these deaths. Try and steer your vehicle over to the shoulder if possible to avoid getting rear-ended. Additionally, stoplights might be inoperative. Treat all intersections like a four way stop and realize that many motorists will be scared and unsure of what to do. Get to your home or bug out location and off the streets as soon as practicable. • Life Support failures: Hospital and life support equipment operates on sensitive electronics and are loaded with microprocessors, all of which are susceptible to EMP attack. Additionally, the EMP strike will most likely knock out the power grid that runs all of these devices. Hospitals have generators and backup fuel for such emergencies, but the generator itself may not run due to the fact that the E1 component of the EMP may have wiped out its circuitry. What this means in practical terms is that anyone who is dependent upon a machine to live, such as a respirator, dialysis, etc, is at serious risk and may become an immediate casualty of the EMP strike. • Airplane Crashes: Studies have shown that the various components of the EMP strike, the E1, E2, and E3 pieces, are sufficiently different from lightning, which all aircraft are protected against. It is unknown what effect the 42
EMP SURVIVAL EMP will have on aircraft in flight. During testing, some critical avionics systems failed when exposed to EMP bursts. Additionally, airports, traffic control systems, communications, and other critical ground systems will potentially be knocked out, causing a serious emergency for planes already in flight. It can be reasonably assumed that there will be casualties amongst those passengers who happen to be in the air when an EMP strikes. • Miscellaneous casualties: From elevators getting stuck mid floor to train crashes due to signals being inoperative, from heavy loads falling from electronic cranes to explosions at power plants, there are a host of potential immediate casualties from an EMP strike that are impossible to predict with any sort of accuracy. The theme here is that the EMP will most certainly claim casualties immediately after it occurs, but these casualties will be over all a small percentage of the population. Most of the casualties caused by an EMP strike – the really big numbers – will happen weeks to months after the initial strike. Like most natural disasters, there is not much one can do to prevent the initial strike, just as you can’t predict when an earthquake will strike or a hurricane will blow in. It’s just one of those life events that one has no control over. It’s important to not restrict one’s life or movement because of the potential for any disaster; living in a bunker 24/7 is not a viable alternative. The prepper lifestyle is one that closely manages risk and attempts to mitigate it with prudent forethought and planning, having a good balance between skills and equipment to allow one to survive just about anything. There are essentially two components to surviving an EMP, two strategies one needs to employ to make it through what could be a very long, protracted, and painful experience for just about anyone involved. The first area focuses on general survival skills, equipment, and planning. This is the area most common to any natural disaster, really – the skills you will need here will be the same ones you’d need if the area were struck by a hurricane or earthquake. This is because these sorts of events have the same characteristics; they project the same 43
EMP SURVIVAL sorts of hardships upon the population. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, - whatever – have the common traits of: • Denial of power, water and heat • Temporary social disorder • Temporary unavailability of food • Temporary breakdown of emergency services An EMP does all of those things and more. The second strategy focuses on the hardening of some equipment in an effort to preserve some critical data and keep some equipment operating. This will put the EMP survivor ahead of others who have not taken these measures.
LIFE AFTER EMP – SURVIVING THE STORM Realize that if an EMP had struck 150 years ago, no one would notice or care. As a matter of fact, the Carrington event of 1859 would have had extremely serious implications to our power grid today. Back then, it was a curiosity to be seen, it was a novelty. Today it would be a disaster that caused thousands of deaths, loss of property, and life. Why? How is it even possible that something that was a curious anomaly back then could be lethal now? The simple answer lies in the skill set and lifestyle of the people back then. They were, quite simply, more capable of living without modern conveniences than we are today. What today we label as a skilled survivalist, back then would have been a common man. Most everyone a hundred years ago knew how to perform basic survival type skills because of the environment they lived in. However, this is a double edged sword. 150 years ago, people also died of things that we today can cure with over the counter medication. Things that would’ve seemed like magic to them are common household appliances today. What the modern prepper needs to do is acquire the same sorts of skills as they had back then and meld them with the modern knowledge and technology that is available to us today. Both of these areas will help you survive an EMP strike. 44
EMP SURVIVAL WATER – ESSENTIAL FOR LIFE The first thing you need to plan for is a method of purifying water or a reserve water supply. This item is first on the list of skills and or equipment you will need because you won’t be able to go but four or five days without it. Lack of water will kill many, many people after an EMP strike. Unlike any other natural disaster, there is no guarantee that water pumps will still work after an EMP strike. Some city water systems are gravity fed, and assuming the water lines are intact, water will continue to flow until the reservoir or tank runs dry. Other city water systems rely extensively on electric pumps to move water, and this water may run out just moments after a strike. Either way, you will need a method of obtaining or purifying water. First, should you be made aware that there has been an EMP strike or strong geomagnetic storm, immediately get to your bathtub, plug it, and start running water. This is standard practice for any emergency where you do not have to immediately flee the building. What this does is gives you a few gallons of water before the supply runs out. Your bathtub might just sustain your family for a week or more depending on its size and how many people are in your family. Plan on allowing for at least one gallon per person per day for drinking and basic hygiene, not including bathing or toilet flushing. Also, remember that you have a couple of gallons of fresh water in your toilet tank (not your toilet bowl!) that is fresh, drinkable water that can be used in an emergency. Your tub and your toilets are the low hanging fruit of fresh water supply that nearly everyone can obtain assuming the water still runs. Consider maintaining a supply of fresh water on hand either in barrels, bottles, bladders, or some other form. The problem with this is that water is heavy, bulky to store, and may not be practicable to store 45
EMP SURVIVAL if you live in an apartment or small home. Most everyone, however, can accommodate several flats of inexpensive bottled water. These are available at any supermarket for just dollars and they can be stored underneath a bed or in a garage. Buy this water NOW while it is still available. Having two or three cases of water underneath each bed in your home is cheap insurance and should be well out of the way. Forget it’s there until the next emergency. If you have a swimming pool or spa you already have a formidable backup water supply. Consider treating your pool with only the minimal chemicals needed to keep the pool clean and free of algae; this will ensure that there is less work required to treat the water in case you need to drink it. Pool water can be used judiciously to flush toilets and maintain sanitation. It can be treated or boiled to make it drinkable. Avoid drinking it without treating it, however. You should never drink surface water from creeks, streams, rivers, or lakes without treating it. There is the potential for all sorts of pathogens to be present in the water; from cysts to bacteria, from cryptosporidium to animal feces, you simply have no idea what’s in the water. Drinking untreated water could lead to disease or dysentery, which is potentially lethal in a survival situation. All water must be treated prior to drinking! There are several methods of accomplishing this: 1. Boiling: If you still have power, then by all means boiling is the easiest and most reliable method of treating water. Even if the power is out, you can boil water over a fire. There is no magic to this; once the water reaches a rolling boil (regardless of the altitude), the water is safe to drink and all potential bacteria will be eliminated. The downside is that boiling is a power and fuel intensive process, and these resources might be scarce. Also, it may not be tactically wise to start a fire depending on the situation you find yourself in. 2. Treating: Water can be treated with iodine tablets designed especially for that purpose, or one can use bleach. If you use 46
EMP SURVIVAL bleach, make sure it’s ordinary, unscented bleach. Generally, 16 drops of bleach per every gallon of water is the dosage. Shake and let the water sit for 30 minutes after adding the bleach. After 30 minutes, smell the water. It should have a slight scent of chlorine. If it does not, the water is not safe to drink. Repeat the process again. If it still does not smell of chlorine, throw it away. 3. Sterilization: By using ultraviolet light from the sun’s rays, you can produce safe drinking water in about 6 hours. Take a plastic water bottle and wash it as well as possible. The plastic bottle must be a PET bottle – you can tell if it is by turning it over. A PET bottle has the number 1 inside the 3 recycling arrows. Next, put the water you want to purify within the bottle. Ensure the water you are using is not too cloudy or full of sediment as this process will not work that well if that is the case. Seal the bottle top and leave in direct sunlight for six hours. If it is cloudy or overcast, leave it out for two days in whatever sunlight there is. This is a reliable and safe method for purifying relatively clear water. 4. Other methods: One can distill water, trap rainwater, or a variety of other methods, each of which are more labor intensive than the three listed above. Remember, the goal is a simple, easy, and repeatable method of generating water. Your water strategy should revolve around having a good starter supply of water BEFORE an emergency, and then having a method to obtain or purify water AFTER an emergency.
FOOD – ESSENTIAL TO SURVIVAL After water, the next contingency you must plan for in the event of an EMP is food. Realize that without food, you can’t move, defend yourself, take care of your family, or even think. Even though a human in good shape can go for three weeks or more without food, after a single week without it, thinking and critical functions could be impaired to the point where you start making stupid mistakes that could jeopardize your family or yourself. 47
EMP SURVIVAL Again, the best time to obtain an emergency food supply is NOW. Unlike water, you can comfortably store quite a bit of food on hand because it is compact. If you are apprised that there has been an EMP strike, even if it is not in your immediate area and you are temporarily unaffected, get to the grocery store NOW! While everyone is glued to the television wondering what happened, you can beat the rush and top off your emergency supplies of food before mass panic hits. Your emergency food supplies should be well thought of in advance and slowly built up over time. The easiest things to stockpile are the things you actually eat! Also keep in mind that your food survival strategy should hinge on foods that are essentially non-perishable and do not require refrigeration to keep. This isn’t to say that a nice chest freezer stocked with frozen meat is not a bad idea – it’s a very good idea. Just realize that in the event of an EMP you’ll eat that food first, before it spoils. The best kinds of foods to have on hand usually come in cans or jars; these are things like canned vegetables, canned fruit, canned meats, canned soups, pickled vegetables, fruit preserves, and foods of that nature. Bags of rice are extremely economical and come in large sacks that are easy to store. For the longest term storage, keep in mind that rice, grains, and other legumes should be stored in sealed food grade buckets to prevent rotting or intrusion by pests. These buckets are marked as food grade and are typically available for $710 each. Some of the most neglected items on a prepper’s food list are kitchen basics like olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar, honey, seasonings, and condiments. These items keep practically forever and should be purchased in copious quantities before any major event. Why relegate your survival meals to bland and uninteresting fare? If you enjoy something like Tabasco sauce, then keep a case of it on hand. Bottled spices and sauces like that will keep for a decade or more. Invariably the topic of survival foods turns to freeze dried foods and military meals like Meals Ready to Eat (MRE). These types of 48
EMP SURVIVAL foods have some serious drawbacks. First and foremost, they are expensive. A case of 12 MREs costs about $100 and what you get for that is essentially 12 meals. That’s not much food for the price. Additionally, MREs are designed to be used by active soldiers, not people hunkered down waiting out a crisis. They can cause severe constipation in persons who eat them and are sedentary. Lastly, an MRE is a bulky meal that is difficult to store en masse. It is prudent to have a case or two on hand, just make sure that something like MREs are not your primary survival strategies. Gardening and growing your own vegetables is another area that might be worth looking into, but realize that gardening depends on irrigation and that may not be available to you after an EMP strike. Gardening can be accomplished in climates that get sufficient rain or are close enough to bodies of water to be able to use the water for crops, but in the absence of that, gardening ceases to be a viable strategy. In places like the Southwest, gardening is mostly impossible without powered irrigation – realize that most of California is natural desert and was only made green due to water being pumped in. Lastly, keep in mind that the amount of food you store is finite; eventually you will need a method of getting more of it. In some cases, families can store a year or more of food – if you can, then that’s great. Space and financial resources will limit some families, however. A deep larder is an excellent thing to have and if you are able to store several years of food then by all means do it. Where you can obtain food in the future is questionable. Skills like hunting and fishing should be learned now, while the opportunity exists; fish and wild game will be extremely hard to come by in the future as they will suffer from overhunting and overfishing as people deplete the land. Your best bet is to have a deep larder and hope the crisis blows over before your food runs out. Remember, once you have made your last grocery store run, avoid supermarkets and food stores as they will be a place of chaos, looting, and violence as others attempt to strip them bare.
EMP SURVIVAL FIRST AID After food and water, you need to ensure that you can remain physically fit and do so in what is referred to in the military as an “austere environment”. An austere environment is one in which medical services are generally not available – basically, you’re on your own. Realize some key facts about medical care after an EMP strike. These are extremely bitter pills to swallow (no pun), but they are nevertheless the truth: • Persons with complicated medical conditions requiring specialized care such as dialysis machines, refrigerated insulin, or hard to obtain medications are in serious, serious jeopardy. There’s nothing to say that you might find a way to keep insulin cool for months after the event using innovative techniques. Of course we will do whatever we can to keep our loved ones alive, but realize right now that persons who are inexorably linked to machines for survival don’t stand much of a chance. Your medical care for these people should be geared towards keeping them as comfortable as possible until the inevitable occurs. • Prescription medication should be stockpiled for months in advance. Ideally, you would keep a year’s worth of medication on hand for the affected individual. This may not be possible due to insurance, cost, or storage concerns. If the medication must be refrigerated, even further problems are created. There’s no easy answer to this problem. Some medications are not necessary for life and are a substitute for healthy living, such as blood pressure medication. Lose weight now and start eating healthy; find ways to naturally lower your blood pressure before an emergency. Other medications, such 50
EMP SURVIVAL as seizure medication, are necessary for life in some cases. There is not much that can be done about this other than having a good quantity of it on hand. • The biggest medical emergencies will result from routine injuries. A gunshot wound is a gunshot wound no matter if an EMP has struck or not – it’s still a grave injury. Modern medicine has made surviving things like gunshot wounds possible, however. A cut on your finger, on the other hand, could result in death if infection is allowed to take root! Austere conditions mean that routine injuries like lacerations, burns, and broken bones need to be treated diligently and with skill. The time to learn those skills is right now. Your medical bag should be geared towards the sorts of injuries you will be likely to encounter during and after an EMP strike: cuts, grazes, deep lacerations, puncture wounds, and burns. This means lots of compression bandages, steri-strips, and at least two or three tourniquets and a SAM splint. A tourniquet is a life saving device that is used extensively by the military but is essentially unknown in the civilian world due to the advent of medical care. A proper tourniquet is a wide piece of nylon webbing with a Velcro catch and a plastic windlass for cinching it up. It’s an excellent tool for deep cuts, puncture wounds, or bullet holes in the absence of medical care. Proper training on this piece of gear is a must. A SAM splint is nothing more than a flexible piece of aluminum with some padding on one side. It can be formed into a variety of shapes to support broken bones and other injuries. If you can get it, antibiotics like amoxicillin and cephalexin can save your life. Speak to your family doctor and see if he or she will consider prescribing you a basic antibiotic for general use and perhaps give you an idea of what dosage you should use. Many doctors that you know on a personal basis should have no problem doing this for you. Painkillers are a must – remember – plan for a situation in which there is no hospital! If you break a limb or get a bad enough cut, you will want the strongest pain medication available over the counter. Again, some doctors who are personally 51
EMP SURVIVAL known to you may prescribe you something stronger if it’s for a medical kit. Also be very sensitive to those with allergies in your family. This can require anything from Benadryl to an epinephrine injection. Lastly, no medical kit would be complete without a small amount of sutures and needles. There are classes you can take on how to do basic stitches, which some injuries will absolutely require. Learn how to do this now, while the training is available. The advent of steri-strips has lessened the need for stitches, but an especially deep laceration will still require them. First aid is all about training, training, and more training. Take all the classes you can on what to do to treat medical emergencies, especially those classes that focus on medical care in austere environments (like wilderness medicine).
SELF DEFENSE You have food. You have water. You have medical equipment and the ability to heal those in your immediate family. These are valuable commodities – ones that can be taken from you. Keep in mind that there are predators out there that have made no preparations of their own. They don’t plan to – their plan is to take whatever they need by force from weaker, poorly defended people. Many of these people stock up on guns and ammunition and consider their planning complete. You should only focus on self defense once food, water, and medicine are looked after – you can’t eat a gun, drink a bullet, or heal anyone with a pistol. Keep that in mind. After all of those things are handled, however, it would be a mistake to not focus on armament and self defense. There is another faction out there; people who stock up on food, water and medicine in case of emergencies but are unarmed. They view weapons as barbaric and unpalatable. They will be easy prey for those that are looking for supplies when the time comes. In order to plan your self defense needs, you need to examine what your potential defense scenario would look like. As already discussed above, first responders will be a rare commodity. Many of them will 52
EMP SURVIVAL be off helping their own families. If the crisis last long enough, many of them will be struggling to survive themselves. You need to have a handle on your own personal defense and that of your family. The easiest and perhaps most effective way to defend your family is with firearms. This is not to say that less than lethal tactics such as batons, pepper sprays and Tasers should not be used – they most certainly have a place. This is also not to say that physical training and martial arts such as Jiu Jitsu or Krav Maga should not be used – they absolutely should be. The point is that a firearm is about the only thing that an ill senior citizen, ten-year-old kid, or half starved man can use to defend himself. No matter what your training or skill set is, a firearm levels the playing field and allows you to project force out to hundreds of meters away, potentially deterring further violence. You may have heard (once or twice) throughout this guide that the time to obtain training is NOW – the same goes for firearms. Weapon training is a perishable skill and one that needs a base level of training followed by periodic refreshers. Ensure everyone in your family or party is able to use all the weapons you have! The weapons strategy for a typical family of four should look something like this: • Pistols: Each person old enough to carry one should have one. Old enough means old enough to load it, shoot it, unload it, and disassemble it. It has nothing to do with the legal age limit, which will obviously not be in effect after an EMP strike. Pistols selected should emphasize capacity over caliber, and be of a caliber that is readily available in any sporting goods store, such as 9mm, .40S&W, and .45 ACP. Oddball manufacturers and calibers should be avoided. Each pistol should have its own holster and belt with at least three magazines – if possible, some 30 round magazines should be kept on hand. Avoid fancy gadgetry at all costs. 53
EMP SURVIVAL • Battle rifles: A military rifle clone is a must. Whether your preference is an AR clone, an AK or an FAL, it’s important that you have at least two battle rifles per four person family. These must be magazine fed, gas operated, and semi automatic rifles of military calibers (5.56 NATO, .223 Remington, .308 Winchester, 7.62x39). Each rifle should have a sling and a minimum of 5 magazines per rifle, as well as a good set of iron sights that have been zeroed. A weapons sight such as an Eotech or Aimpoint red dot is a good thing to have. These are your party’s main line of defense and what you will primarily use to defend yourself with – remember, your pistols are backup. When you want to reach out and touch someone, use a rifle! • Hunting Rifle: One person in your party should be carrying a scoped rifle that can be used to catch game with. This can even be chambered in .22 long rifle or something non defensive. The purpose of this rifle is to be able to hunt for food. If you have someone in your party who is a little bigger, then by all means chamber this rifle in something like .308, and then it can be used for long range work outside the range of your battle rifle. The scope you buy for this rifle should cost as much as the rifle itself and be of excellent quality. • Shotgun: Again, one out of your party ought to be carrying a tactical shotgun with a magazine extension tube so that it can carry 6-7 rounds. This is strictly for close in self defense work and “two legged critter control”. Make sure the shotgun has a sling and preferably a bandolier so you can keep all the shells in place. Ammunition is a major consideration but it has much of the same drawbacks as water does – it’s extremely heavy and difficult to transport. If you’re on the move, you can’t help but to be lightly supplied because if not, you won’t move very far. If your scenario involves staying put, then the sky is the limit – however much your retreat can hold, you should have. Several thousand rounds of ammunition per weapon is not overkill! Needless to say you should have cleaning equipment and some basic tools to repair or adjust your weapons if need be. Keeping your 54
EMP SURVIVAL weapon in tiptop shape in an austere environment could save your life. Get in the habit of cleaning your weapon every time you shoot it if at all possible. Sight all your weapons in before the emergency so you can pick them up and be good to go whenever you need them. Also consider obtaining body armor for each person in your party, at the minimum a vest.
After an EMP strike, you might be wondering “communications with whom?” Think about it for a moment. How many times do you phone, text, or e-mail your loved ones on a given day? If you’re like most of America – lots. There is a need to keep in contact with people. After an EMP strike, that increases, not diminishes. If you thought that an EMP might destroy sensitive electronics, you’re right – unless you kept them in a shielded enclosure (discussed later in this guide). Our hypothetical family of four should have the following communications gear: • FRS or MURS handheld radios: One radio per person. This keeps the whole family abreast of where everyone else is. Routine jobs like fetching water or even going to the bathroom are opportunities for someone to get hurt or ambushed. Stay in contact! An FRS or MURS radio is nothing more than a walkie-talkie, compact and easily used. Each radio should have a solar charger to keep these little babies working for years to come. • HAM radio: Each group should have one, and it should be of the portable type. Sure, you sacrifice a little wattage but there won’t be any power anyways so it doesn’t matter. HAMs can be used like walkie-talkies – i.e. to communicate with each other – or they can be used to communicate through a repeater to access a much larger area. The HAM 55
EMP SURVIVAL community is extremely aware of EMP threats and no doubt many repeaters and solar power supplies are sitting in protective shielded enclosures waiting to be deployed. HAM is an excellent way to get long range communications and communicate on a number of frequencies including first responder and military frequencies. Get a solar charger for the radio as well as an extended antenna, an indispensable tool. • Shortwave Radio: A great tool to have on hand in case the government is able to transmit instructions to the people. Assuming there are stations that have not been hit by the EMP (or were shielded), a shortwave radio is the primary method you might be using to get your news. As always, get a solar charger! As with any communications equipment, it is imperative to observe what the military refers to as COMSEC (Communications Security). FRS, MURS and HAM radios operate on unencrypted and commonly accessible frequencies that anyone can listen in to. Avoid stating your location, the size of your party, how much food or ammo you have, and other sensitive details. Remember, bad guys have radios too! You may have also noticed that cell phones and laptops with WiFi Cards are not on this list. This is for two reasons: 1) it is assumed most people already have these, and 2) the likelihood that the Internet as well as the cell phone infrastructure is operational after an EMP strike is dubious.
TRANSPORTATION Perhaps you’ve decided that sticking around is not in the cards and you want to bug out somewhere. Your choice of vehicles will be paramount. First and foremost, there is no guarantee that your vehicle will remain unaffected by the EMP strike. Even if it does not have electronics at all (i.e. pre 1970s vintage), it still might not work – remember Soviet Test 184 and the diesel generators. Having said that, err on the side of caution and purchase a simple, robust vehicle. Keep in mind that during a recent series of EMP tests, the vehicles 56
EMP SURVIVAL that were shut off did not suffer any detrimental damage – the ones that were turned on did. Of the ones that were damaged, some could be repaired by disconnecting the battery and “rebooting” the car. Not all hope is lost. Your bug out vehicle should ideally be a four wheel drive vehicle with a low range gearbox, have a winch, extra lights, backup fuel tanks, and a HAM radio permanently mounted. It doesn’t need to be set up for rock crawling, but should have the capability to climb curbs, small downed trees and signs, and clear a moderate dirt road trail. The idea is to get out of dodge. If your vehicle does more than that, great – but if you’re planning on hitting the road in a sports car, then you’ve got another thing coming. The problem with bugging out after an EMP strike is that the roads will be clogged with dead vehicles and moving anywhere will be difficult to impossible. Keep this in mind – you will get no warning of an incoming EMP strike! A more practical approach to think of is to ready your vehicle for practical transportation locally even if you don’t plan on bugging out. You will still need to go places; might as well prepare your car now. Fuel and maintenance are some big considerations. There will be plenty of fuel on hand at first; in dead vehicles, in dead tanker trucks, and in gas stations. You will need a method of getting it although, and that will include jerry cans and a method to siphon with. Additionally, you will need basic fluids for maintenance and common spare parts. Just because an EMP has struck, doesn’t mean your car will never need an oil change again – to the contrary – maintenance will be even more important than ever.
CLOTHING Climate appropriate clothing and footwear will be of paramount importance after an EMP strike. Now is the time to purchase warm coats, durable pants, and industrial strength footwear in subdued colors. Note that it says subdued colors, not camouflage. You want to avoid the appearance of being too tactical or associated with the military. You want durable clothes that will allow you to blend in with 57
EMP SURVIVAL everybody else. This is not the time to look like you model for your favorite sporting good catalog. Each person in your party should have a good set of boots that are broken in and can be walked in for miles. Packs and rucks are another area to not skimp on. Even though you’re planning on staying put, you might still have to carry things (certainly extra ammo and first aid). Get quality outdoor gear now while you still can get it.
MISCELLANY There are a host of items that would be helpful to have after an EMP strike, over and above what is inside the typical household: • Topographical maps of the immediate area, large scale • A couple of quality lensatic compasses • Fire starters and fire starting materials. • Fire extinguishers and buckets to put out fires • Chem lights • Flash lights and batteries (note: LED lights are sensitive to E1 pulses. Make sure they are stored in a shielded container) • Personal pocket knives, personal defense knives, hunting and skinning knives, and a method to sharpen them all • 550 cord (1000 feet) as well as some rope suitable for use in general work. • Signaling devices such as flares or smoke. • Cash, small denominations • Pre 1964 silver coins for barter • Comfort food such as chocolate bars and candy • Alcohol for barter or antiseptic use • Candles, oil lamps 58
All of the gear in the world won’t do you any good unless it’s impervious to the E1, E2 and E3 components of the EMP strike. There are several ways of accomplishing this and most of them revolve around the principles developed by Englishman Michael Faraday in the early 19th century. A Faraday cage or Faraday shield (the terms are mostly interchangeable) is nothing more than an enclosure formed of conducting metal or material. The way it works is that the external electric field will cause the electrical charges within the enclosure to redistribute themselves within, thus cancelling the field within the cage’s interior. Basically, whatever you put inside the cage is impervious to the electrical field outside of the cage. While Faraday cages can be made of metal screens, it’s best to have them made of solid materials for EMP use to provide the maximum protection from within. There is one important caveat however – the items placed inside the cage cannot touch the cage’s interior; place layers of non conductive materials within the cage to insulate whatever is inside of it from the cage itself. Almost every American household already has a Faraday cage – it’s called a microwave oven. A microwave is nothing more than a powerful radio transmitter and in order to keep the rays contained within the oven, it’s lined with a metal shield so that no stray microwaves escape and cause damage elsewhere. An old microwave represents the perfect pre-made Faraday cage – simply wrap sensitive items such as radios or a laptop computer in non-conductive material and place inside the microwave for safe keeping. Make sure you cut the power cord of the microwave completely off at the base, as this length of wire might pick up the E3 component of the EMP blast and become charged, potentially ruining the items within. 59
EMP SURVIVAL A metal garbage can with lid also makes an excellent Faraday cage. Make sure that the lid makes proper electrical contact with the garbage can and there are no barriers (such as a garbage bag). Also, make sure whatever you put in there is wrapped with layers of non conductive material. If you want to take it a step further, you can even wrap a radio, for example, in tin foil. Ensure the tin foil completely covers the radio. Then, put that package inside of a sock or a plastic garbage bag. Then, place it inside the metal garbage can. Now you have two redundant layers of electro magnetic shielding. Most everything you wish to protect can be shielded in this manner. For those so inclined, Faraday cages can also be purchased as purpose built units for the purpose of mitigating EMP effects. Realize that if your livelihood depends on preserving data or functionality for some piece of gear, that you should probably purchase a purpose built Faraday cage. These cages are usually made of high grade aluminum and can be manufactured in custom built sizes to accommodate whatever gear you need protected. Engineers design each cage to protect against a certain range of wave amplitudes, and there is a lot of science behind building a proper Faraday enclosure. These can usually be had from about $1000 up, depending on the size of cage you require. On the low end, some manufacturers offer small “Faraday Bags”, which are nothing more than conductive pouches that can accommodate a device the size of a cell phone or PDA. These little bags are not as good as a full cage, but are better than nothing and may just fend off the worst of an EMP strike depending on where you happen to be when it hits. The bags rely on the mesh principle of Faraday cage design; even a mesh enclosure can mitigate the effects of EMP, but is inferior to a full, proper metal enclosure. Still, for approximately $30, these are not a bad thing to have around.
EMP SURVIVAL THE TOP TEN ITEMS TO HAVE IN THE EVENT OF AN EMP STRIKE • #10: Flashlights: A world without power is a world in which light is like gold. Keep plenty of flashlights and batteries on hand and in sealed Faraday enclosures so that you don’t have to cease all activity after dark like your forefathers had to.
• #9 Bullet Proof vest: Find one that can be hidden under clothing so as to remain inconspicuous. There is little to no medical treatment available after an EMP strike. Make sure you are protected. • #8 Firearms: The only practical way to defend yourself and your property after the inevitable civil unrest occurs after an EMP strike. Keep plenty of ammo on hand and learn how to use them now. • #7 A HAM Radio: A vital link to the outside world, HAM users are resilient as cockroaches and will be around long after an EMP event. You will get your news and communicate through this and communicate with loved ones over long distances. • #6 A Laptop: Kept in a shielded Faraday cage in case of emergencies, this laptop is preloaded with all of your family records, medical texts, how-to manuals, repair guides, and any other useful information that one would reasonably require in a world where that knowledge is lost. • #5 A solar charger: A solar charger with a variety of connectors will keep laptops, radios, and other vital 61
EMP SURVIVAL equipment up and running long after the power is out. Keep it in a Faraday cage until needed. • #4 First Aid Kit: A comprehensive first aid kit can save the life of a loved one in an environment where there is no medical care. Make sure you receive adequate training and train up your spouse so you can take care of each other. • #3 Emergency Food Supply: Those that don’t have it will be wishing they did. Accumulate food slowly, over time, to minimize the financial impact. Focus on longevity and nutrition. Having a year’s worth of food (or more) will make the difference between sitting at home comfortably or roving the streets like a hungry animal. • #2 Water purifier: A handheld or portable water filter could save your life by converting normally undrinkable surface water into something you and your family can use. There are many types available – get one that balances water purification capacity with portability. • #1 Skills: Remember the theme of EMP strikes – it takes people back to a time before technology. The people of centuries past would have been unaffected by an EMP strike because they already know how to live without technology. You need to learn how to live without it as well, and nothing replaces know how. How to shoot, how to find water, how to administer medicine, how to make a shelter, how to know what’s good to eat and what is not. These skills are invaluable and will separate all of the people who bought equipment out of a catalog and those who survive.
PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS AND SUMMARY
You’ll notice that there were certain items that most people associate with EMPs that are not mentioned in this guide; one of them is a generator. There are several good reasons for this. First of all, there is no guarantee an unshielded generator will function after an EMP strike and all but the smallest generators are difficult to place inside of a Faraday enclosure due to size and weight. If one had a shipping 62
EMP SURVIVAL container, for example, it may be practical to roll a generator inside it and hope for the best. There are some extremely small generators that will fit inside of a large metal garbage can, but they are usually too small in capacity to power anything of value. All generators use fuel, which will already be in short supply. The biggest reason not to operate a generator is a tactical one – in a world with no power and no lights, you can hear a generator running miles away and also see the lights it is powering. Running a generator tells looters and bandits that you are prepared. If you have a generator, you most likely have spare food, guns, and ammunition. It’s a homing beacon! The practical consideration of life after an EMP strike is to keep an extremely low profile. That means blackout curtains after dark, telling no one of your food and ammunition supply, and generally avoiding people. Your home should blend in to avoid attention. If other houses look abandoned (or are actually abandoned) yours should look like it too. It is doubtful anyone will thrive during such a dark period – the best one can hope for is to survive until order is restored and life returns to a sense of normalcy, which might take years. During this time, you must closely monitor your resources, ration everything, and take nothing for granted. You should trust no one outside your immediate circle. Lack of food makes people do strange things. Your previously friendly neighbor may try to kill you to feed his children who haven’t eaten for a week. Stay vigilant. Stay informed. Assume nothing and test every situation. Don’t take unnecessary risks and don’t travel unless you absolutely have to as roads, trails and highways are ambush routes.
An electromagnetic pulse is a very real and very present danger that America faces. If and when it happens, it will be a nationwide event that will plunge America into life as it was 150 years ago. Modern American citizens, for the most part, are completely unprepared for life as it was back then; they lack common field craft and survival skills as well as common sense. All aspects of modern society 63
EMP SURVIVAL hinge upon power, heat, and running water, all of which will either be negatively affected or disappear altogether. Additionally, our government will have a difficult time restoring order because of circumstances outside their control: the availability of repair parts for the power grid are potentially years away in the best of times. People will die of common causes -starvation, disease and violence. Realize that even though a nuclear EMP never happens, a geomagnetic storm will, at some point, that much is guaranteed as the sun is cyclical in nature. We will face this problem in the future almost certainly – the severity of it is unknown. There is much you can do today to prepare for this – there is much you can do right now. Acquire the tools and knowledge you need to survive this event NOW, while all the resources are still available.
The first 72 hours after an EMP are a critical time to act. Use this checklist to help you plan:
HOUR 0-6 AFTER STRIKE • Account for location of all loved ones and immediate family • Fuel up car if lacking • Try and get to the grocery store while others panic • Run all bathtubs full of water • Disconnect all utilities to house just in case • Retrieve a personal defense weapon • Remove children from school if applicable • Assess initial damage to home, if any
HOUR 7-24 AFTER STRIKE • Get sensitive items out of Faraday Cage • Hand out radios and weapons to loved ones • Discuss tactical movement plan and perimeter security • Establish HAM radio monitoring watch • Establish shortwave radio watch
HOUR 25-48 AFTER STRIKE • Establish a watch schedule, keep someone awake at all times in revolving shifts • Establish a neighborhood patrol route with neighbors, 65
The following items should comfortably fit within one large rucksack and should last 48 hours: • Canteen or water bladder • 4 MRE meals • Handgun • 250 rounds of ammunition • 5 magazines • Change of clothes • Boots • Cash • First aid kit • Tourniquet • Prescription medicine • Portable HAM radio • Portable water filter • Fire starter • Matches • Signal mirror • Butane lighter • Combat knife • Pocket knife 67
EMP SURVIVAL • 100’ 500 cord • Three pairs of socks • Moleskin • Tarp or rain poncho • Black garbage back • Ziploc bag • ID, personal documents • Solar charger • Fishing line (monofilament) • Hooks • Compass • Topographical map • Binoculars • Entrenchment tool