There’s been a lot of talk about EMP attacks and it’s gotten a lot of people wondering what it is and also what will survive one of those attacks. So, let’s answer those questions.
First in order to understand the threat, a proper definition of an EMP attack must be made. An electromagnetic pulse, or EMP produces a sudden burst of electromagnetic radiation. When an EMP hits, it will literally shut down the power grid, disabling any sort of electronic mechanism within a certain radius.
An electromagnetic pulse, or EMP produces a sudden burst of electromagnetic radiation. When an EMP hits, it will literally shut down the power grid, disabling any sort of electronic mechanism within a certain radius.
What Will Survive and EMP
What Vehicles Would Survive an EMP?
Conventional wisdom says that most vehicles won’t survive an EMP attack due to the number of delicate electronics that are in virtually all modern cars.
A 2004 study by the US EMP commission came to the conclusion that, in the event of an EMP, aproximately 10% of the vehicles on the road will stop:
Approximately 10 percent of the vehicles on the road will stop, at least temporarily, thereby possibly triggering accidents, as well as congestionReport of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack
This is an optimistic perspective, and further research is definitely needed to better aproximate the disaster that will unfold. The vehicles that would come to a stop, particularly those on highways and/or speeding will most likely cause accidents.
Whether that percentage is accurate or not, here’s a list of the vehicles that are most likely to survive and electromagnetic pulse:
- Toyota 4×4 Trucks 1985-and earlier – The key factors that make these types of trucks EMP ready are a solid front axle and a carbureted 22R motor. It’s a simple setup, but when it comes to withstanding a pulse, these will do it. And the best part is, these trucks are known to perform better under pressure.
- American made Pre-1980 trucks, SUVS, and commercial vehicles – American truck motors were built very simple pre 1980. When it comes to choosing the right type of truck to use after an EMP, follow this rule of thumb: The simpler the motor, the better. American trucks can withstand and handle the duty of a bug out vehicle.
- Dune Buggy – These are not on fun, but they are awesome bug out vehicles that will withstand an EMP.
- Pre-1980 Jeep – Jeeps are iconic for survival. They will make great bug out vehicles and can double as daily duty vehicles.
- Pre- 1980 Land Rover – Like the Jeep, Land Rovers have their place in the survival game and for a reason. They are efficient and they can handle off road situations when getting you from point A to point B.
- Old tractors.
Dirt Bikes and Off-Road Motorcycles
Certain types of motorcycles may survive an EMP. Those would be the off-road kind, those designed to trek through the back country and over rough terrain.
Motorcycles are excellent choices for surviving an attack. If you plan to use a motorcycle for a SHTF type of situation, chose one that is definitely off road and one that can be converted to diesel. Converting a motorcycle to a diesel and using it as a survival vehicle is highly recommended.
A couple of favorites among preppers are the Kawasaki KLR 650 and the ROKON 2×2. The Kawasaki can be converted to fit your needs. The ROKON is a bike that is designed to go everywhere and do almost everything. It’s designed to handle everything from escaping to scouting.
Solar panels absorb nuclear radiation from the sun daily. An EMP will only affect these slightly. They’ll suffer a small decrease in power output.
They’ll still be able to power. If your home or bug out shelter is powered by solar panels, you can rest easy knowing that an EMP will not wipe out your power source.
It’s a good idea to keep a spare power inverter and other electronic parts in a Faraday cage. The solar panels themselves won’t be affected by an EMP but the electronic components of your system can be. Better safe than sorry.
We put people on the list because overall humans as a whole are unaffected by EMPs. However, some will not be as seen in the list below of things that will not survive.
Appliances such as a solar oven for cooking and a woodstove or fireplace for heating your home. Without power to your home, you need to have a manually operated method for washing clothes, such as a hand plunger and buckets or even a washboard with a tub and hand wringer.
These will come in handy. Make sure you have critical items to help you accomplish basic cooking tasks like a hand operated can opener, hand powered coffee grinder, coffee percolator, manual mixer, and Zeer clay pot fridge.
When an EMP causes an extended grid down situation, you’ll need additional hand powered items such as a hand operated grain mill, meat grinder, and pasta maker.
Make sure you have hand tools such as screwdrivers, saws, hammer, a hand drill, block sander, sandpaper, etc. so that you can accomplish basic carpentry tasks and make repairs as needed. A brace and bit for drilling holes and driving screws will make repairs a lot easier.
Any device (including means of transportation) that is mechanical. I.e. mechanical watches, bicycles, etc.
What Won’t Survive an EMP
The Main Power Grid
The main reason why enemies launch an EMP attack is to disable the power grid. Without power, there’s no computers to maintain the military defense system, there’s no communication between law enforcement or emergency personnel and without power and communication, the land is sure to descend into chaos.
Shutting down the main grid, puts everyone in the dark. Literally. Radio darkness occurs, causing confusion and panic everywhere. Without some type of emergency generators of some kind, if the EMP attack is bad enough, it could cripple the affected area for a very long time and thus give an enemy the upper hand.
This is a known fact that many modern cars will not survive an EMP attack. We already talked earlier in this article about a certain percentage of cars coming to a stop the second and EMP happens, but frankly I think many more will be in this situation.
The super-efficient computers that manufacturers boast about could be useless to their owners once a pulse has been unleashed. If you have a car that is computerized in any shape or form, it may not work following an EMP.
If your car has any of the following features, an EMP will render it useless: electronic fuel injection, anything computerized that controls your vehicles main systems, a PCM also called a powertrain control module, ABS (Anti-locking Brake Systems) electronic ignition or keyless ignition, or a negative battery terminal that is grounded to the vehicle frame.
Eco-Friendly Electric/and Hybrid Cars
Electric? Forget about it.
Upgraded Computerized Motorcycles
We love our Harleys and our touring bikes, but if you have a motorcycle that is computerized and 21st century fancy, you can forget about getting the heck outta dodge on it when an attack happens.
Homes that are Computer Operated
In the 21st century we have all these great new and innovative home appliances. They call them appliances for the home of tomorrow!
You must admit, some of those gadgets are cool. The touch screen refrigerator or the voice activated oven. They’re cool, but will they survive an EMP attack? Most likely not. Why?
Because of the solid-state components that they’re made up of. These “smart homes” may be smart and innovative but they’ll be shut completely down during an attack.
Can you imagine spending all your prepping budget to build a smart computerized home, only to fall victim to an EMP attack and get stuck inside your house?
These are a given. Computers are getting faster and more complex these days, but they cannot withstand an attack by an electromagnetic pulse.
Most of us are aware that you can’t put a magnet on a laptop because it’ll mess up the hard drive. Likewise, just imagine what will happen when a gigantic magnetic wave hits the region. Everything computerized within the affected area will flat line.
People with Pacemakers
It’s a sad truth. The electromagnetic pulse that is released during an attack would no doubt kill a person with a pacemaker. Though it all depends on how close they are in proximity to the initial burst.
So, knowing that so many things we rely on will fall victim to an EMP attack, what can be done?
How to Prepare for an EMP Attack
When an enemy decides to unleash an EMP, it’s usually when no one is expecting it. And when it does happen, even the ones who are prepared are caught off guard.
The best way to make sure that even if you’re ready for an EMP is by preparing ahead of time and routinely practicing drills. Practice a drill of what to do if an EMP attack happens:
- At home
- At work
- At school
EMP attacks are nasty and will cripple an entire city and its population. Imagine the state of panic that will arise if an EMP hits New York City. That’s a city packed full of millions upon millions of people.
They don’t call it the city that never sleeps for no reason. If an EMP hits the Big Apple, it will immediately descend into darkness. If it happens during the day, the inhabitants of the city will not be prepared, and they will panic and panic quickly.
Subway trains, buses, taxi cars, will all simply stop working. Traffic lights and other electronic signs or devices will stop working.
Once night falls on the city and all the lights are out, chaos will reign. That’s the main purpose for the design of the EMP. To knock out the communication. A breakdown in communication lends to a breakdown in society. Turning out the lights will only make the matters worse.
If you live near a densely populated metropolitan city, understand that cities with huge populations are prime targets for EMPs. Enemies want to hit hard and hit fast, disabling as many section as possible, so they can confuse the population and cause widespread panic and mayhem.
Plan Ahead Now
If you don’t want to get caught up with the rest of the general population then the time to prepare is now. The key to moving quickly right after an attack is to be familiar with the signs of an EMP and be prepared to act immediately when you discern a threat.
Quite obviously, the lights will go out, and everything that is electronic will cease to function. If you’ve practiced your escape plan, you will have already put it into action, especially if you are caught in the city when it happens.
Dan’s note: What you can do is build a Faraday cage to keep some of your electronics.
With the right plans in place, you will have access to electronics, if they were protected in a Faraday cage. You will have lighting, water, and ways to cook and heat your home while the rest of the area is trying to figure out what to do. If you are bugging out, be prepared to do it quickly.
The last place you want to be is in the city when an EMP strikes and to get stuck there after nightfall. You’re chances of survival are lessened the longer you stay in the city. It’s best to get out of the city and as far out as possible so you can implement your other plans of action.
updated by Megan Stewart 10/16/2019
Mira has been prepping for 10 years. Living in the outskirts of metropolitan Atlanta with her 3 children, she’s preparing not just for SHTF events but also for everyday emergencies.