There’s a very short answer to the question posed in the title of this article: Virtually every technological device with a microchip that is not shielded properly would be destroyed in an EMP blast.
This may shock you, or it may not. If you’ve done any research on EMPs (electromagnetic pulses), you’ve no doubt heard about how horrible an EMP attack could be.
You’ve no doubt heard horror stories about how cars will crash, planes will fall from the sky, the lights will go off, angry mobs will fill the streets, and cities will turn into war zones. Some studies argue that up to 90% of the population could be killed from disease, starvation, dehydration, suicide, vehicle-related accidents, and murder in the months after an EMP has gone off across the country.
Can this happen during an EMP attack? Certainly. There’s no denying that an EMP would change life as you know it over the long term, especially if it were to affect the entire country and not just your city or area.
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But at the same time, an EMP would most likely not take out every single electronic item in existence. There are many technical and electronic items that would most likely survive an EMP.
In this article, we’ll talk about how an EMP could damage electronic devices, items that would be destroyed by the EMP, and items that could survive it.
How Will An EMP Damage Electronic Devices?
There are two primary ways by which an EMP could damage or destroy electronics.
The first way is through a ‘radio wave’ attack that hits the electronics directly. Any electronic devices with antennas or wires will be the most vulnerable to attack.
The second way is through the power grid. Tons of miles of electric wires that are strung all over the country will allow the high voltage created by the EMP to travel and become absorbed. Surge protectors that are used for keeping electronic equipment safe will not be effective at protecting devices from the EMP.
Everyday Items That Would Be Destroyed By The EMP
With the above information in mind, here are the everyday items that would be destroyed by an EMP:
1. Anything Connected To A Charger
Any electronic devices that are connected to a charger or electrical outlet when the EMP goes off are going to be toast.
So if you have a laptop, TV, phone, or tablet plugged into an outlet when the EMP goes off, it’s practically guaranteed that you’re just going to have to kiss them goodbye.
You better get used to reading books instead of watching TV after the EMP goes off.
Heaters, especially electric heaters, are most certainly going to get fried as well. This is because the electronic control circuits, the electronically controlled pumps, and the ignitor transformers are all going to get fried. (DIY heaters will be fine.)
Even if they survive, if the electrical grid is down, then electronic heaters are not going to last anyway. As for other kinds of heaters, such as portable heaters, they should survive so long as they lack electronic controls.
A good rule of thumb to follow is this: If your heaters plug into the wall or have electronic controls, chances are good they won’t survive the EMP. Otherwise, they should be safe.
Any car that has an electronic ignition and computerized parts is going to get damaged if not completely fried by an EMP. Modern cars have a vast number of computerized components. In fact, all cars built since the 1980s contain computerized components.
As we’ll discuss later, some cars will survive an EMP attack, depending on when they are built. But most cars running on the road when the EMP goes off are going to immediately shut off, which is why millions of people will die instantly from car accidents if the EMP affects the entire country.
That being said, it really depends on the strength of the EMP device in regards to whether cars will work. Some controlled tests have been conducted that showed cars shutting off when an EMP device went off, only for the cars to run again later.
Besides cars, other vehicles such as ATVs, motorcycles, planes, and so on that contain computerized components are going to be fried by the EMP as well.
As for electric/hybrid cars, they will certainly be taken out by an EMP. And even if they somehow miraculously survive the EMP, the electrical outlets used to power them won’t.
4. Solar Panels*
There’s an asterisk to this one for a reason: solar panels can withstand an EMP very well, but the solar charger controller that charges the batteries, and the voltage inverter that converts the power created from that battery, are going to be in bad shape.
Unless you have another voltage inverter and solar charger controller stored in a Faraday cage, your solar panels aren’t going to do you much good.
5. Battery Powered Devices*
There’s an asterisk next to this one as well because certain battery-powered devices should survive an EMP so long as several criteria are met (yes, this includes your phone).
First and foremost, the devices cannot be connected to a charger in the wall or to the electrical outlet in any way, shape, or form.
Secondly, they should be in a metal or concrete building that could essentially act as a makeshift Faraday cage. If you’re outside of any such building when an EMP attack happens, they will most likely get fried or at least damaged.
6. Computer Operated Homes
Computer operated homes are not going to fare well in an EMP. This means your voice activated and touch screen appliances are not going to be in working order after the EMP goes off thanks to the fact that they are built out of solid state components.
Unfortunately, people who rely on pacemakers and who are in close enough proximity to the EMP blast are most likely going to die after the EMP goes off.
8. Running Water
When an EMP goes off, the days of you turning on your sink in the kitchen or bathroom to receive running water are going to be cut short. This is because running water is connected to the power grid (they need power to pump water into the water towers). Speaking of which…
9. The Power Grid
It’s not an everyday item, per se, but it is something that we all rely on each and every day.
The power grid is going to be taken out by an EMP that goes off within a certain radius, and perhaps over the entire country or North American continent if it’s powerful enough and released high enough in the atmosphere.
What Everyday Items Will Survive The EMP?
What are some everyday electronic items that will survive an EMP? Try any of these:
As we just noted, even though the voltage inverters and solar charger controllers of solar panels are not going to survive an EMP, the solar panels themselves should be relatively unharmed.
If you have cars that were made before 1990, there is a chance they will survive an EMP. Since 1990, the number of microprocessors and electronic circuitry in vehicles has increased substantially.
There are a number of old makes and models of cars that should survive an EMP just fine. Examples include Toyota Hi-Lux pickup trucks, Chevrolet and GMC Blazers, Ford Broncos, Jeep Cherokees, and Land Rovers that were made before 1990 (or before 1985 in the case of the Blazers and Broncos).
Simple Electronic Devices
Any simple electronic device that lacks solid state controls should be unharmed by an EMP. Examples include power tools, generators, and appliances.
While any solid state controls are going to get fried by an EMP, the rest of the components in those devices should still be in good condition. Just make sure you don’t have anything connected to an electrical charger or to the electric grid, or else they WILL get fried.
Again, battery-powered devices that are not connected to the power grid and are inside a metal or concrete building should survive an EMP.
If there’s anything that you take away from this article, it’s this: some items will survive an EMP, and some won’t.
But if you do want to increase the odds of electronic items surviving, the best thing you can do is build a Faraday cage and keep items in there until the EMP goes off. You can build Faraday cages out of metal trash cans, or out of cardboard boxes and aluminum foil.
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