The Northern Lights are especially brilliant these days. If you’ve been fortunate enough to see them, you can thank Solar Cycle 25, our sun’s current and more active-than-expected 11-year run. With the accompanying solar flares and vague warnings of how a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) might affect us here on earth, you may be investigating Faraday cages. If you’ve read One Second After* by William Forstchen, as many preppers have, which outlined in excruciating detail the dangers of a man-made Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), then you’re probably quite interested in what to put IN a Faraday cage.
(There are some interesting discussions in the comments, too. Check them out!)
The Reality of Disruption to Electronic Components
We rely on electronics way too much to ignore the potential of these events. 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. It’s simple to learn how to make an EMP shielding container, which can protect your most important electronic devices.
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. However, 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.
What to Put in a Faraday Cage
- 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, iPad, or e-reader containing reference and survival books but also dozens of classics and a couple of versions of the Bible
- One or more digital watches and clocks (but also have a faithful windup)
- 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
- DC/AC inverters
Storage Containers for Faraday Cage Contents
And what should these be stored in? Well, again, almost 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 shield.
- Ammo cans
- 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
- An old microwave (mixed reviews on this one)
Advice from Dr. Arthur Bradley, author of Disaster Preparedness for EMP Attacks and Solar Storms, may be contrary to what you’ve read about how to make a Faraday cage.
Precautions When Deciding on the Contents of A Faraday Cage
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.
Separate Like Items
First, if you have more than one of an item, two 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.
Consider Layering Protection
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, a metal filing cabinet, or a metal drum. If you have emergency kits that contain electronic items, package them in an EMP-proof box or bag. This protects your most important survival items when you need them most.
True, we could survive just fine without music, photos, and probably most documents that are important today but may not be “one second after.” However, 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.
Pack Items Not Used Regularly
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 is 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.
*A Note from The Survival Mom
There was a time years ago when the idea of a HEMP terrified me. I’d just read One Second After by William Forstchen about life in a small town following an EMP event. I even reviewed it.
However, I don’t believe that’s a realistic scenario anymore. It’s too widespread and renders critical infrastructure useless to the attacker as well.
Instead, localized EMP events, sabotage, and, to a lesser extent, Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are what we need to be prepared for. For example, something like this attack on a California substation is exactly what I would expect to happen.
Read a more in-depth view of some EMP facts and how you can protect your sensitive electronic gear from an EMP attack here.
What are your plans for protecting electronics, and what is in your Faraday cage?
Last updated on November 27, 2022 by The Survival Mom editors.