Massive solar flares have been in the news recently, along with vague warnings of how a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) might affect us here on earth. The dangers of a man-made Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) was outlined in excruciating detail in One Second After by William Forstchen.
We rely on electronics way too much to ignore the potential of these events, and although even the experts aren’t always in agreement where details are concerned, it makes sense to have a plan to protect important electronics in either event.
What experts do agree on is that many items with any type of electronic component may become inoperable by either a CME or EMP. From Survival Mom: How to prepare your family for everyday disasters and worst-case scenarios:
An EMP can be caused by the detonation of a large bomb,
nuclear or otherwise, in the atmosphere, miles above land. Its pulse
wave can easily cover a continent and destroy electronic components
in computers, engines, power plants, and solar panels alike. An event
like this has never happened on a large scale, and there are differing
opinions as to the exact consequences, but one thing is certain: In a
matter of moments, life as we know it would be gone forever. Our
closest star, the sun, could also do extensive damage in the form of a
Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). The results would be similar.
I don’t have a plan to turn my garage into a giant Faraday cage in hopes that our vehicles would be spared, but I have made plans to protect other, smaller items that would make a huge difference in our survival following a CME or EMP. Here is a list of some of those items.
- Mp3 players filled with music. also, every spare set of earphones I can scrape up around here.
- An old laptop computer with downloads of ebooks and stored personal information
- One or more digital cameras.
- A set of walkie-talkies that run on rechargeable batteries
- Solar battery chargers
- A Kindle containing more than 150 books, many of them reference and survival books but also dozens of classics and a couple version of the Bible
- One or more digital watches and clocks
- Small DVD player (a backup player would be good also)
- Any and all digital photos stored on a DVD and/or a thumb drive
- Scanned documents stored on a DVD and/or thumb drive (See Grab-n-Go Binder.)
- Computer hard drives
- Ham radio equipment
- A small generator
- LED flashlights
- Shortwave radio
- Electronic medical equipment
And what should these be stored in? Well, again, most every expert has differing opinions. We have a few Tech Protect Bags and a metal trash can. Here are some other options:
- Tech Protect Bags – The owners of this company recommend nesting Faraday containers.
- A metal garbage can. Use these instructions to make a garbage can Faraday cage.
- Ammo cans
- An old microwave (mixed reviews on this one)
- Heavy duty aluminum foil wrapped around individual items, wrapped in plastic, and then again with aluminum foil.
- A tool box
- Gun safe, although a safe with an electronic lock may be difficult to open post-EMP unless it also has a key
- A cardboard box or other container that has been “Faraday-ized”
- Holiday popcorn tins
If/when an EMP or CME occurs, there is no going back for a “re-do”. Whatever works, works. Whatever doesn’t, doesn’t, and there will likely be no way to make repairs. Because of that, I highly recommend taking these precautions.
First, if you have more than one of an item, 2 digital cameras, for example, don’t store them together in the same container. If the metal trash can proves to be effective but the microwave doesn’t (and you will only know following the EMP/CME), at least you’ll have one item that operates.
Next, pack small Faraday containers into larger Faraday containers. If you are using a Tech Protect Bag, store it inside a larger Tech Protect Bag, an ammo can, or another (hopefully) EMP-safe container. This layering could include a clothes dry, metal filing cabinet, or metal drum.
If you have emergency kits that contain electronic items, package them in an EMP-proof box or bag, so you’ll have your most important survival items protected when you may need them most.
True, we could survive just fine without music, photos, probably most documents that are important today but may not be, “one second after,” but since the exact results of a CME/EMP are so unknown, I would rather protect even just a few of these items than face a future without anything at all containing an electronic component.
One final thought. No one knows if or when either a CME or EMP will happen, and if it does, what the intensity will be. Whatever you pack in a Faraday container will be safest if it remains there. For example, don’t pack your laptop if you use it several times a week. Instead, pick up an older laptop on Craigslist, store your information, and then pack it away.
What are your plans for protecting electronics and what is in your Faraday cage?
Learn more about EMP preparedness
- Another Look at Faraday Cages
- The Basics of EMP: What is it? How likely? How to Prepare?
- EMP Survival & The First 15 Things You Must Do Immediately After an EMP
- How to Make a Faraday Cage
- Post-EMP Survival: What if you can’t get home?
- Why and How to Protect Your Gear From EMP
- Would a Long-Term Blackout Mean Nuclear Meltdown