The EMP Threat: Comprehensive Family Preparedness Guide

EMP detonation over a city

An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack is a significant threat with the potential to cause widespread devastation to our modern society.

EMPs can result from natural occurrences, such as solar flares, or from man-made incidents like nuclear detonations or non-nuclear EMP weapons.

These high-intensity bursts of electromagnetic energy can have a devastating impact on electrical systems, potentially causing large-scale blackouts and damage to electronic devices within the affected area.

In a report to Congress, experts warned of the significant risk posed by EMPs on national security and civilian infrastructure.

Since an EMP event could disrupt essential services like water, food, and medical systems, it is crucial to take personal preparedness measures to protect yourself and your family.

This comprehensive guide will hopefully assist individuals in creating an emergency plan, stockpiling essential supplies, and implementing measures to protect electronic devices and equipment against an EMP event.

By doing so, folks will hopefully be better equipped to handle the aftermath of such an event, ensuring their safety and well-being during an uncertain period.

Preparing for the EMP threat involves considering various factors, such as location, potential impacts, and communication networks.

Understanding the risks to urban and rural areas, as well as the potential effects on transportation systems, will enable individuals to make informed decisions during an emergency.

Furthermore, it is essential to stay informed on the latest developments in EMP threats and countermeasures, as well as to maintain communication with your family, neighbors, and government agencies (cringe) to ensure a coordinated response in the event of an attack or natural EMP event.

Understanding the EMP Threat

An Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is a burst of electromagnetic radiation that can result from natural occurrences or man-made events.

EMPs have the potential to disrupt, damage, or even destroy electronic systems and infrastructures, making it essential for individuals to understand and prepare for such an event.

Types of EMP Events

There are three primary types of EMP events:

  1. Natural EMPs – These events are caused by natural phenomena such as solar flares and lightning strikes. The most well-known example of a natural EMP is a geomagnetic storm, which occurs when the Earth’s magnetic field is disturbed by the solar wind.
  2. Non-nuclear EMPs – These EMPs are generated by non-nuclear devices, such as high-power microwave (HPM) weapons, radio frequency (RF) weapons, and electromagnetic bombs. They are specifically designed to disrupt or damage electronic devices and systems.
  3. Nuclear EMPs – Nuclear EMPs are caused by the detonation of a nuclear weapon at high altitude. This creates a strong electromagnetic pulse that can span across a large geographic area, potentially causing widespread damage to electronics and infrastructures.

Potential Effects on Infrastructure and Technology

EMP events can have a massive impact on infrastructure and technology.

They can affect various entities, such as power grids, communication networks, transportation systems, and vital public services.

Power grids – An EMP event can cause widespread damage to electrical infrastructure, potentially resulting in widespread power outages.

Communication networks – EMPs can disrupt or damage communications equipment, rendering communication networks inoperable. This hampers emergency response efforts, public communications, and the operation of businesses.

Transportation systems – EMP events can impact transportation systems by damaging electrical systems in vehicles, disabling traffic control systems, and disrupting navigation networks (e.g., GPS).

Public services – The disruption of communication, power, and transportation systems can have cascading effects on essential public services, such as emergency response, healthcare, banking, and water supply, leading to potential public health and safety concerns.

Given the potentially devastating effects of an EMP event, it is crucial for individuals and families to understand the risks and take necessary precautions to protect themselves and their electronic equipment.

Coronal Mass Ejection vs. EMP

the sun showing formidable solar flares

A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is a large expulsion of plasma and magnetic field from the sun’s corona, whereas an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is a burst of electromagnetic radiation.

It is important to differentiate between these two phenomena, as they pose distinct risks and require unique preparedness strategies.

While a CME can be a natural cause of an EMP event, it is not necessarily the only source.

EMPs can also be generated by nuclear explosions, as discussed in the 2004 Congressional report on EMP.

In both cases, the consequences can be severe, leading to widespread power outages, damage to electronic devices, and disruption of communication networks.

In terms of impact, a CME-associated EMP event typically affects a larger geographical area, while a nuclear-induced EMP can vary in strength and impact depending on the size and altitude of the detonation.

That said, both events can have long-lasting effects on infrastructure and are therefore significant concerns for personal preparedness.

To survive and thrive during an EMP event, individuals and families should consider the following recommendations:

  • Inventory and protect vital electronic devices: Make a list of critical devices such as communication equipment, medical devices, and backup power systems, and then invest in proper shielding to prevent them from being damaged by an EMP.
  • Develop an emergency communication plan: In the event that communication networks are disrupted, have a plan in place to reconnect with family members and loved ones.
  • Stock up on essential supplies: Keep a well-stocked supply of non-perishable food, water, and medical items, as well as a basic first aid kit.
  • Learn and practice essential survival skills: Acquire knowledge and proficiency in key survival techniques such as fire-starting, water purification, and self-defense.

By understanding the differences between a Coronal Mass Ejection and an EMP, as well as implementing appropriate preparedness measures, individuals can mitigate the risks posed by these potentially devastating events and ensure the safety of themselves and their families.

Preparation and Protection Strategies

An EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack is a potential threat that could disrupt modern technology and infrastructure, posing a risk to individuals and families. To prepare and protect yourself and your family, several key strategies should be implemented, focusing on education and awareness, having an emergency supply kit, protecting your home, and exploring Do-It-Yourself (DIY) solutions.

Education and Awareness

Understanding the nature of an EMP attack and its potential effects is the first and most critical step in being prepared.

This can be achieved by reading resources such as the Congressional Report on EMP threats and staying informed about news and updates from reliable sources.

Familiarize yourself with the threats and hazards associated with EMPs, as well as potential mitigation measures.

Emergency Supply Kit

Having a well-stocked emergency supply kit is essential for any disaster, including an EMP attack. This should include:

  • Non-perishable food items that can last for an extended period, such as canned goods and freeze-dried meals
  • Drinking water in sealed, sturdy containers
  • A manual can opener
  • Portable, battery-operated or solar-powered radio
  • First-aid supplies
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Hygiene products
  • Copies of important documents, such as identification, insurance policies, and property records

Consider keeping an extra set of electronic devices in a Faraday cage, creating a simple environment that provides protection against electromagnetic fields (more on this later).

Home Protection Measures

To safeguard your home from an EMP attack, follow these guidelines:

  • Install effective surge protectors with both high and low-end voltage clamping capabilities to protect your home appliances from EMPs, as suggested by DHS.
  • Ensure any power generators or backup energy supplies are protected from the effects of an EMP, using specially designed cages or enclosures
  • Create a family communication plan, including a meeting place should you lose contact with your loved ones during or after an EMP event

DIY Solutions

While professional protection measures can be helpful, there are also DIY options available to individuals:

  • Research and construct a makeshift Faraday cage for personal electronics using readily available materials like aluminum foil or metal trash cans
  • Consider building or purchasing a solar oven for non-electric cooking options, as maintaining the ability to cook and prepare food is crucial in any disaster scenario

By implementing these preparation and protection strategies, you can better ensure the safety and well-being of your family in the event of an EMP attack.

How To Protect Electronics From EMP Attacks

Understandably, there is growing concern about how individuals can protect themselves and their electronic devices from such an occurrence.

One essential method to protect electronics from EMP threats is the use of a Faraday cage or Faraday bags.

These enclosures, named after the 19th-century scientist Michael Faraday, are designed to distribute electromagnetic radiation to their outer surfaces, thereby shielding the devices inside from any charge (UWKCase).

Storing your sensitive electronic devices in a Faraday cage or bag can help ensure they remain functional even in the event of an EMP attack.

Another practical approach to consider is using a homemade Faraday shield.

This can be constructed using readily available materials such as a metal trash can or a cardboard-lined metal bucket.

To create this shield, simply line the inner walls and floor of the container with cardboard or another non-conductive material, and place your electronic devices inside.

While DIY Faraday shields may not provide the same level of protection as commercial Faraday cages or bags, they are an affordable and accessible solution to protect your valuable electronics.

In summary, while it may be impossible to predict or prevent an EMP attack, taking appropriate steps to protect your electronics and having a family preparedness plan in place can go a long way toward mitigating the potential impacts of such an event.

Investing in a Faraday cage or bag, constructing a DIY Faraday shield, and ensuring your family is prepared for emergencies can all contribute to successfully weathering an EMP attack.

Staying Informed and Up to Date After an EMP

amateur radio handheld devices

Following an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) event, communication networks such as telephones, cell phones, and the internet may be severely disrupted or completely non-functional.

It is crucial to devise alternative strategies for staying informed and up-to-date in such scenarios.

One viable option for maintaining communication during an EMP event is utilizing portable two-way radios like amateur (ham) radios or walkie-talkies.

These devices could prove invaluable in staying connected with family, friends, and emergency services.

It is recommended to store these electronics in an EMP-resistant container or a Faraday cage to protect them from potential damage.

In a situation without access to conventional news sources, monitoring shortwave or amateur radio frequencies can be a way to monitor any updates from first responders or the government, as well as obtain news from around the world.

Invest in a battery-powered or hand-crank shortwave radio and acquaint yourself with the frequencies and channels utilized by emergency services and news broadcasters in your area.

Beyond radios, it is crucial to establish a network of reliable sources within your community.

These individuals can provide vital updates and share vital resources such as water, food, and medical supplies when needed.

Establishing a pre-determined meeting place and emergency communication plans with your neighbors or community members can facilitate coordination and contribute to a sense of camaraderie in difficult times.

Finally, maintaining a collection of offline resources like books, manuals, and maps can also be advantageous.

These can serve as valuable references for first aid, navigation, and other survival skills.

Building a Support Network

Preparing for an EMP threat involves not only personal preparations but also building a support network of like-minded individuals who can provide assistance, knowledge, and resources.

A strong support network can increase your chances of successfully navigating through the challenges posed by an EMP event.

Local Community Groups

Getting involved in local community groups that focus on disaster preparedness and self-reliance can be a valuable step in building your support network.

These groups can help you gain essential survival skills, develop plans for managing resources, and provide a platform for exchanging ideas and experiences.

Participating in local workshops, training sessions, and seminars on emergency preparedness can also help in connecting with others who share similar concerns about EMP threats.

These events typically cover topics ranging from food storage to communication during emergencies, offering you a chance to expand your knowledge and develop useful skills.

Online Forums and Communities

Online forums and communities dedicated to disaster and EMP preparedness can serve as valuable sources of information, advice, and support.

These platforms allow you to connect with people from around the world who share your concerns, engage in helpful discussions, and access a wealth of information on personal preparedness measures.

Besides forums and communities, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can be useful for networking with others who are interested in EMP preparedness.

You can join relevant groups or follow accounts that share vital tips and updates on how to prepare yourself and your family for potential EMP threats.

Government and Private Sector Efforts

Addressing the potential threats posed by electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks requires the combined efforts of the government, private sector, and individuals.

This section delves into the collaboration between the public and private sectors in enhancing national EMP resilience.

However, my personal opinion is that you should not depend on, or count on, the government and/or private sector and should focus first on personal and community preparedness.

National Response Strategies

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been proactive in implementing strategies to combat potential EMP attacks.

Their continuous efforts aim to prepare against evolving threats and protect the nation’s electrical grid and electronics.

Collaborative public-private partnerships have been a critical component in creating a robust cybersecurity infrastructure.

Entities such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) emphasize the importance of shared responsibility between government and private-sector organizations.

These partnerships help develop clear lines of communication and ensure a coordinated response to emergencies, including potential EMP attacks.

Advancements in EMP-Resistant Technologies

One of the most effective ways of mitigating the risks posed by EMPs is by developing and implementing advanced EMP-resistant technologies.

The government and private sector are working together to research, develop, and deploy EMP-resilient systems.

The Department of Homeland Security is one key player in the development of EMP-resistant technologies.

They are responsible for coordinating efforts among various government agencies and sharing critical information with private-sector stakeholders.

Their goal is to develop cost-effective and efficient technologies that can withstand the effects of EMPs and ensure the safety and security of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

Private-sector companies in the energy, telecommunications, and technology industries are investing in research and development to create EMP-resistant hardware and software solutions.

Collaboration between these companies and government agencies fosters an environment for more accelerated advancements in this field.


Will an EMP destroy electronics that are unplugged?

An EMP (electromagnetic pulse) can damage or destroy electronics, whether they are plugged in or not. Unplugged devices may be less vulnerable than plugged-in ones, but they can still be affected if the EMP is strong enough. It is recommended to store important unconnected electronic devices in a shielded container or environment for better protection.

What material can block an EMP?

Materials that can block or significantly reduce the effect of an EMP include metals such as copper, aluminum, and steel. These metals can be used to create a Faraday cage, which is an enclosed metallic structure that protects the contents inside from electromagnetic radiation. However, it is important that the cage is properly constructed, and any gaps or cracks are sealed to ensure optimal protection.

Will aluminum foil protect electronics from an EMP?

Aluminum foil can provide some protection against an EMP when wrapped around electronic devices. However, the effectiveness of the foil depends on the thickness and the number of layers used. For better protection, enclosing electronics in a more robust Faraday cage made of thicker metal such as steel, copper, or a combination of materials is recommended.

How to protect a generator from an EMP?

To protect a generator from an EMP, it is essential to shield it with a Faraday cage. This cage can be built using metallic materials such as steel, copper, or aluminum. Make sure the cage completely encloses the generator, and any gaps are sealed. Additionally, it is important to store essential parts in a separate shielded container, as they can also be affected by an EMP.

How far underground can an EMP penetrate?

EMP penetration underground depends on various factors such as the strength of the pulse and the composition of the soil. EMP effects generally decrease with increasing depth, but there is no universal depth that guarantees complete protection. However, important infrastructure and facilities are often built deep underground as a precautionary measure against EMPs and other potential threats.

What vehicles will work after an EMP?

military jeep from second world war

Vehicles with limited or no electronics, such as older model cars with mechanical ignition systems, are more likely to function after an EMP event. Modern vehicles with extensive electronic systems are more vulnerable to EMP damage. It is essential to have a well-maintained older vehicle or a vehicle specifically designed for EMP resistance as a backup in case of such an event. Having spare electronic components and essential supplies in a shielded container can further enhance preparedness.


In summary, the threat of an EMP attack is real and potentially devastating to modern societies.

However, there are steps that individuals and families can take to protect themselves and mitigate the impact of an EMP event.

By understanding the nature of EMPs, staying informed, and preparing for possible long-term power outages, people can increase their chances of resilience and recovery in the face of such a disaster.

One crucial aspect of personal preparedness is assembling an emergency kit with essential supplies such as food, water, first aid materials, and backup power sources.

It is also essential to establish communication plans and maintain knowledge of local resources, evacuation routes, and emergency shelters.

Furthermore, investing in EMP-resistant technology and infrastructure, like Faraday cages, surge protectors, and backup generators, can help mitigate the impact on electronic devices and appliances.

Education and awareness are vital components in building a resilient community that can withstand an EMP event.

By engaging in community discussions, drills, and emergency response training, individuals can empower themselves and their neighbors with the knowledge and confidence needed to face any disaster scenario.

Promoting EMP preparedness on a personal, community, and national level will go a long way toward ensuring the safety and security of a society rapidly growing more dependent on digital and electronic technologies.

Cody Martin

With over 18 years of federal law enforcement, training, and physical security experience, Cody focuses his time nowadays on both consulting and training. He regularly advises individuals, groups, multinational corporations, schools, houses of worship, and NGOs on security threats while conducting customized training as needed.

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