Homeland Security

8 Essential Things You Should Be Doing NOW to Prepare for an EMP Attack

North Korea’s nuclear missile testing is certainly on everyone’s mind these days. The tyrant Kim Jong-un continues firing these things and threatening to blow the U.S. — or Japan or South Korea — off the map. Further, they’ve threatened an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. An EMP would instantly fry all electronics in the U.S. Anything that is run by a microchip (which seems to be almost everything these days) would be destroyed in a second. The next second, the U.S. would be sent back to the 1800s. Think about that for a second —about what that would mean in your life.

After an EMP attack, planes and helicopters would be immediately disabled and tumble out of the sky. Hospitals would be paralyzed. Without electricity there would be no life support for patients, no mass communication (all cell phones and computers would be destroyed), nuclear power plants would not be able to continue running (let’s hope they have plans in place to make sure they don’t turn into another Chernobyl). Large cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., would be instantly paralyzed, with large numbers of people trapped in subways and elevators. Cars (which operate through the use of computers) would immediately shut down in the streets. Water treatment plants would cease to function.

My guess is that it would not take long for people to get overwhelmed and violent. How long before “law and order” break down entirely and there is widespread anarchy? How long could YOU and your family last if all electricity is shut down throughout the entire country? No one has any idea how long it would be before power is restored. Without fresh water, access to food, medicine, and transportation, Americans could soon face riots, starvation, and/or epidemics. What if you or some of your family members are far away from home (at school or on a business trip) during an EMP attack? How will you get home?

Get the picture? It is a pretty serious scenario.

Here’s what you can do NOW to prepare for the possibility of such an attack. These tips might just help you survive an EMP. 

1. Have the right attitude

Those who have the will to survive have the best chance at survival. Those who stay calm, have a plan, and are determined will do much better than those who have no clue (or always have their nose in their phone or computer) and have no idea how to survive a disaster.

You must assume that no one is coming to save you. Get it out of your head that the National Guard or the Coast Guard (as wonderful as they are) will rescue you. They will be paralyzed as well. You must prepare now to have a plan for what you will do. Then carry out the plan to the best of your abilities. Without fresh water, a resupply of vital prescription medication, and a probable shutdown of hospitals, expect a large number of people to die. You cannot save them all.

2. Shelter in place or bug out?

I recently wrote about how to prepare for disasters. These are the “typical” disasters we have heard about all our lives (hurricanes, tornados, chemical spills, etc.). We all know that within weeks (or at the most, months) under normal circumstances, we would all be back in our homes or some kind of shelter, with hot and cold running water, indoor plumbing, and electricity giving us power for lights, computers, cell phones, air conditioning, or heating, etc. After an EMP attack, we may very well exist without any of those things for years. Prepare now for that day.

You should be prepared to “shelter in place” when/if it happens, or to “bug out.” If my family is at home, we will stay at home. If they are nearby shopping, they will have to hoof it home (not a bad idea to stash a good pair of walking shoes in the car…it’s tough to walk for miles in stilettos or cowboy boots). Our home will be our base of operations. If someone is far from home, their best bet would be to stay where they are if it is safe. Wherever you are, shelter is priority number one.

Have in each car a small tarp that can be carried in a bug out bag. You can make a quick “lean-to” shelter with a tarp to protect yourself from the rain.

3. Water is the next priority

You cannot live for more than three days without water, so you must have safe, clean drinking water — one gallon per day per person. That is why each car’s bug out bag should have water purification tablets (a bottle of 100 costs around $10). You can live for days (but not weeks) with these tablets. A better alternative is a Katadyn water purification system. You can get them for less than $80 and one of them can instantly purify 200 gallons. Larger, and more expensive systems can purify thousands of gallons of water. I would also purchase large rain barrels to collect rainwater. You might also want to consider having a well on your property (if possible) with a hand pump. If the electricity goes out, you can always pump the water like in the “olden days.” However you choose to access water, make sure it will supply you and your family for months or perhaps even a year or two.

4. Have a food supply ready

All the food in your fridge will be eaten in a day or spoil. Within weeks, your normal supply of food in the pantry will be gone. I would stock up now on freeze-dried food/MREs and large quantities of imperishable food. However, even that will dwindle after many months or a year if you do not ration carefully. Consider “homesteading,” the old-fashioned way of living from long ago. In fact, the Amish still live that way and do just fine (they do like to shop at Wal-Mart from time to time, however). When you homestead, you are trying to “live off the grid” (live without electricity or very little electricity) and produce many or most of the foodstuffs you need to live. Many “middle-class Americans” who grew up in suburbia are now raising their own chickens, pigs, cows, and growing their own vegetables in gardens (and saving seeds for next year’s crop!). Some keep bees and harvest the honey (it tastes wonderful!). Many Americans are re-learning what their grandparents knew about canning or fermenting vegetables, salting and curing meats, preserving herbs for medicinal reasons, making preserves (my wife makes the best!). Learn how to cook over an open fire (cooking with cast iron pots and pans is awesome — the food tastes so good). Invest in a propane barbecue grill with several backup propane tanks, and probably a camping stove as well.

5. What if people get sick?

What will you do for medication? Store up as much over-the-counter stuff as you can now. Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, bandages of every sort, Nyquil, aspirin. All the regular medicine you use during the normal “cold/flu” season should be in your pantry in quantity. Medical professionals tell us to throw out the medicine that is past its expiration date. That’s your call. If you need prescription medicine, now is the time to preserve as much of it as you can so you have some when you need it. How you access those “extra” doses is up to you. I also would keep rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and liquor in the cabinets. Go to the hunting/camping/fishing stores and buy “QuickClot” combat gauze. This stuff is indispensable in case of punctures or gunshot wounds. Here are some at Wal-Mart.

I have received much valuable information from “Patriot Nurse” on YouTube.

In the old days, whiskey was used for medicinal purposes. I’m sure it will have those uses again in case of a national disaster. You can also use booze to barter for other items. Remember, the economy will be “gone.” Cash, credit cards, debit cards, checks will be useless.

6. Heat and light are also things we cannot do without

Keep on hand an abundance of candles and fire-starting equipment. Have at least three different ways to make fires. It’s a good idea to learn now how to start a fire with just sticks (there are plenty of videos on YouTube to show you how).

I would also collect lint from your dryer…this makes excellent tinder for fire starting. Buy as many matches as possible. Get a magnifying glass to start fires. Oil lamps are not only beautiful, they also give off great light and heat. The oil for the lamps is not terribly expensive. Coleman propane camping lanterns are also great (but remember, just like matches and lamp oil, you will run out of propane at some point).

Theoretically, an EMP attack would not affect batteries. At least that is what I have read in numerous articles. So, stock up on batteries, flashlights, and battery-powered lamps. You can find these in any camping store.

7. Communication is key

You can build a “Faraday cage” for your cell phones, ham radios, computers, and so forth that would protect your electronic devices from an EMP attack. Here is how to make a “quick and easy” Faraday cage.

But here’s where it gets tricky. Now that you know how to build one, when should you put your cell phones in it? Right before the EMP attack occurs, right? When exactly will that happen? No one knows. In my humble opinion, since I have no idea when or if such an attack will occur, I would not be able to chuck my phones into the Faraday cage at just the right moment. But let’s suppose I knew when the attack would occur, and I put them in the cage at the right moment. Hooray, my phones are saved. Who would I talk to? Would there still be an Internet here in the U.S. to access information? How would I recharge my phones? Maybe I could hook them up to a gasoline- or solar-powered generator. Great, but I’m not sure I would have too many people to communicate with.

Just be aware that after an EMP attack communication — especially long distance — will be very difficult or even impossible.

8. How will you defend yourself and your family?

Even your nice, law-abiding neighbors will get desperate. Everyone does when food and water are in short supply. Remember, also, that America has created an entire “dependency class” and a “benefits class” that believes they really don’t have to work for anything. They think they should get a check to support their lifestyle just because they’re breathing. What happens when those checks no longer come? I suspect that many people will resort to violence.

You must protect yourself and your family. I strongly urge you to get whatever firearms you think you can handle, learn the rules for gun safety, and buy plenty of ammunition. Some people also have reloaders and plenty of gunpowder and primers to do the reloading. That is great. However, if the lights don’t come back on for a long time, ammunition could also be in short supply. Bows and arrows, tomahawks, spears, and swords are very good backups. If you are looking at bladed instruments, take a look at Cold Steel.

Band together now with other like-minded people. Either find out where local “preppers” get together or form your own group. You may show up and think that all the people are a bunch of weirdos. Fine. Go create your own support group. Include people who know about farming, mechanics and repairing, canning and preserving, fishing and hunting/dressing wild game (better learn how to do that), and self-defense. There is strength — and comfort — in numbers. You can’t do this alone.

9. Read and watch

Read as much as you can on survival and start testing yourself to see if you can actually live for a time without electricity. I also watch good survivalist movies to inspire me. Defiance and The Revenant are based on true stories. If these people can survive, so can I. The Martian, of course, is just pure fiction and really entertaining, but it makes me think. I love the way the character Matt Damon portrays simply refuses to give up. Here, here, here, and here are several good articles about surviving an EMP attack and obtaining supplies.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Expect the best, but prepare for the worst.

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