An EMP attack is one of the most popular subjects among preppers. The mere concept of the entire electrical grid and all electronics getting knocked out in a single blast is enough to make anyone frightened, and rightly so. It has been estimated that only 10% of people would survive after a year without power.
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Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about EMPs and what happens when one goes off. We’re going to address a lot of these misconceptions here.
As this video by RSP Tool & Gear Reviews discusses, there are at least 17 misconceptions about EMPs:
1. The time required to find replacements for the major transformers in the United States would be at least three years, even though most people seem to believe it would only be a matter of months.
2. The severity of an EMP attack can vary greatly. Just because an EMP goes off does not mean that the entire power grid across the US would be knocked out. The EMP would need to be detonated high enough above the country and in the center of the country as well.
3. Three pulses will go off on an EMP rather than just one: E1, E2, and E3. The E1 is a fast pulse that can induce very high voltages along electrical wiring cables and communications equipment. The E2 is the easiest to protect against and is similar to lightning. The E3 is very different from E1 and E2, and it’s very slow to the point that most people would not even use the word ‘pulse’ to describe it.
4. The E1 is the pulse that deals the most damage to electrical components and devices that we use every day, and it’s therefore the pulse we need to worry about the most.
5. The Earth’s magnetic fields acts on the electrons of the EMP to change the direction of the electron flow at a right angle to the geomagnetic field. The interaction of the Earth’s magnetic field produces a very large but brief electromagnetic pulse over the affected area.
6. The E2 of the EMP would likely not be an issue for critical infrastructure systems, because the US government has protective measures against lightning strikes that could also be used against the E2 pulse.
7. The E3 component is similar to a geomagnetic storm caused by a very severe solar flare. The E3 can produce geomagnetically induced currents in long electrical conductors such as telephone lines or transmission lines.
8. Because of the similarity between the E3 and solar storms, it is common to refer to solar-induced geomagnetic storms as a solar EMP.
9. A solar EMP is not known to produce E1 or E2 effects, which means that it is not going to knock out electronics or your vehicles.
10. Larger electronic devices such as transformers and sensitive digital electronics are going to be the most affected by an EMP attack.
11. By disconnecting power, such as unplugging power cords from electronic devices, in combination with using an effective Faraday cage for shielding, you can reduce the chances of a particular item being affected by an EMP.
12. Anything plugged into the grid and/or not shielded will get fried by an EMP, especially if it’s an E1 pulse.
13. Many vehicles will still run after an EMP. It’s been found that older vehicles, in particular, have fewer sensitive electronics, but even cars up to 2002 or 2003 or so will still likely run after the EMP as well.
14. When the EMP goes off, gas stations will most likely not be working, so make sure you have lots of gasoline stockpiled up.
15. While old vacuum tube radios will possibly be less affected by an EMP, they still contain solid-state devices that are highly vulnerable. Have a spare rectifier on standby.
16. Contrary to what many people think, an ammunition can is actually not a very good Faraday cage.
17. Copper, galvanized steel, and aluminum will be the best materials to use for your Faraday cages. Make sure that it is an unpainted surface.
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