“This could be the kind of catastrophe that ends civilization—and that’s not an exaggeration.” —Newt Gringrich
What is an EMP?
On any given day, without warning, imagine an event so catastrophic that life as we know it could come to a grinding halt an instant. Picture yourself driving home from work on a nice sunny day along with hundreds of other commuters, dreaming of the succulent steaks that you are going to grill that evening when suddenly your car goes dead. The majority of other vehicles on the road die, too. Some drivers are able to restart their cars; however, there is no radio and your cell phone has stopped working.
There is no fire, mushroom cloud, loud explosion and there is definitely not a large metal robot bursting out of the concrete below you. Amid the traffic congestion and automobile accidents due to the confusing and sudden event, you have no way of knowing what just happened. Even if you get your car restarted or it never died in the first place, what do you do next?
An electromagnetic pulse or EMP results when an event—either natural or manmade—disrupts electrons and protons in the air. These charged particles are then caught in the magnetic field of the Earth, creating a wave, pulse or burst of electromagnetic energy traveling through a wide range of frequencies that jams and even fries all electronic components.
An EMP has three steps. The first one is the pulse of electromagnetic shock jamming electronics. The second is an event such as lightning that can cause physical damages to structures. The third is a pulse of energy that travels through wires and lines. An EMP has the capability of destroying electronic components beyond repair, requiring rebuilding of America’s electronic infrastructure.
EMPs are nothing new. Scientists have known about its effects since we have been testing nuclear weapons. On July 9, 1962, we launched a 1.4-megaton nuclear warhead called Starfish Prime, 900 miles off the southwest coast of Hawaii. It was detonated 240 miles up above the earth in outer space. Messing up the Earth’s flow of electricity is one of the effects of high-altitude nuclear weapons. Starfish Prime caused streetlights to blow out in Oahu; communications failures, airplanes in midair experienced electrical surges, and further the resulting EMP damaged six satellites. Several countries, including the United States, have admitted having non-nuclear e-bombs, specifically made to destroy communication systems.
More worrisome are solar flares or a super solar storm. In 1989, a solar flare or “coronal mass ejection” caused an EMP so great it gave Texans the opportunity to see The Northern Lights and knocked out electricity to six million customers for over nine hours throughout the United States and Canada.
Many of the militaries operations, banking, broadcasting, transportation, food and water supplies, and communications would be gone. Imagine having no way to connect to family members, the media, law enforcement, disaster relief or anyone for that matter to find out what is going on.
Within the first week, even the first few days, many dependent on electronic medical equipment will die, followed shortly by others dependent on daily medications, if they have not stocked up or if the medications need refrigeration. It will not take but a few days for everyone to realize the world as we know it is over. Rioting, looting, violence and chaos will ensue. The majority of Americans will be totally unprepared and supplies will dry up quickly—with no hope of replenishment. Those aware of the serious consequences of a large EMP attack suspect that literally millions would die within the first week.
Unfortunately, an EMP is one disaster I cannot tell you how to prep for in 10 easy steps—this is not as easy as stockpiling a week’s worth of food and water. An EMP will set America back to the days where electricity, running water, refrigeration, automobiles, airplanes, TV, radio and phones did not exist. Some predict that recovering from an EMP might take years. Your chances of survival exponentially increase if you prepare now. The first step is to accept how dependent you are on the grid and learn how to live off of it.
Modern homesteading is seeing a resurgence in popularity since 9/11. Modern homesteading is a way of life that generates self-reliance, sustainability and independence. Those choosing to move towards a homesteading lifestyle wish to:
- Live more simply
- Be less wasteful
- Live cheaply
- Be independent of the government
- Live independently off the grid
- Be more healthy
It is not a hippie thing or right-wing anti-government thing—people from all walks of life are choosing this way of life.
When someone describes themselves as a homesteader, whichever extent it is—from fully living off the grid to the urban homesteader who has a paying job—the purpose is to be self-sufficient and live as much like the pioneers as possible. Some homesteaders have container gardens on the roofs of their high-rise apartments and bike to work. Others have given up cities all together by building a log cabin in the woods hundreds of miles from nowhere and hunting, slaughtering and curing all their own meat. Regardless, the less dependent on others to fulfill you and your families needs, the better. Homesteading is the only way I see you not only surviving, but also thriving if there ever was an EMP attack. Here is why.
Food and Water
To meet the minimum requirement for drinking and personal hygiene, you should keep one gallon of water per person per day. The Canned Food Alliance suggests two cans of food a day per person. If you add that up for a family of four, that is 96 cans of food just for 12 days and 48 gallons of water. Unless you have a large warehouse or underground storage unit, the amount of long-term food and water storage needed for years is extremely overwhelming. There aren’t many of us with the amount of space and money required to store that much. That is why it is important to be educated on water purification, filtering and where to find alternative sources of water.
In addition, learning how to hunt and field dress game, garden, stockpiling seeds, canning, preserving, salting and curing meat and raising chickens, rabbits, goats or other animals for food will help you in the long run.
For a beginner’s guide to procuring water, starting a garden and long-term food storage and sustainability, read the following posts:
- How Much Water and Food Do You Actually Need?
- Finding Alternative Sources of Water
- Seeds for Survival: Saving and Stockpiling Seeds to Grow Your Own Food
- Container Gardening for Urban Preppers: Growing Your Own Food Virtually Anywhere
- Building a Year’s Supply of Food Storage
Without the electric grid, the United States alone will be set back hundreds of years. Now is the time to read books to learn about pioneering and homesteading. Sewing, leather craft, woodworking, homeopathy, animal husbandry, cooking, blacksmithing, gunsmithing, farming, and other such skills our forefathers relied on will be highly desirable and sought after when the grid goes down indefinitely. Interestingly, in tests done on vehicles during an EMP event, not all of them quit working. Cars made before 1965 have a better chance of continuing to work. Knowing how to maintain and fix old cars will allow you to get around, help others and barter your services—for as long as the gas lasts, that is. Without gas delivery, supplies will eventually run out. Bicycles, horses and mules will become our regular mode of transportation. Have you always had an idea how to make alternative fuels? Now is the time to start experimenting. Many Americans do not know how to perform even some of the simplest tasks. Have you ever chopped down a tree or split wood? To heat your home and cook you will need a fireplace or wood stove. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about two million Americans work in industries that apply the same skills needed after an EMP such as carpenters, steel and iron workers, brick masons, loggers and farmers. For the rest of us—the majority—unless we do something now to prepare, will be useless.
For more about bartering and trade, read the following posts:
- Top 10 Skills To Survive The End Of The World As We Know It
- Prepping Skills 101: Bartering and Trading
- The Savvy Barterer–References, Skills, and Tools for TEOTWAWKI Barter
- Important Skills to Have After TEOTWAWKI
- Give it Up or Grow your Own
Quickly, we will find out how dependent most Americans are on the grid and what the lengths people will go to, to survive. Cities and urban areas will be dangerous. Hurricane Katrina proved this. Burial tubes keep your last-ditch rifles secure from looters and curious neighbors. Keep boards, nails and a hammer ready to board up windows and keep lighting down to a minimum at night. However, bugging-in might just be safe for a few days. If you have a bug-out location, this will be the best place to seek refuge. If you are a city dweller or live in an apartment, now is the time to join a local preppers group so you have a place to go.
Due to availability and cost, I know it is difficult, but set aside, bury, hide or put up ammo just in case. Resist the urge to use it for practice. Purchase SHTF ammo separately from target ammo. Cheaper Than Dirt! sells convenient long-term storage packed ammo in barrels, vinyl battle packs and ammo cans. Teach all your family members how to use firearms.
The thought of an EMP and its aftermath is daunting and scary at best—if not downright mind-blowing. Historian and author of “One Second After,” Dr. William R. Forstchen, writes, “And finally, the impact is so overwhelming, it triggers a psychological sense of helplessness, and therefore why bother, since if it happens we are finished.” There is a good chance that if you are reading this article, you too are dependent on the grid. It is going to be hard work. However, there is no need to rush out and charge up your credit cards, buy a 100-acre plot of land two hours outside of town and a herd of cattle. Even urban dwellers are participating in homesteading.
My advice to you is to start small. Read and learn as much as you can about the skills that you are going to need. There are many websites devoted to homesteading and pioneering, along with just as many, if not more, books. In whatever extra room you have, plant a garden or raise chickens. Even if all you can do right now is a windowsill herb garden, it’s a start.
Using no power tools, build something with wood—a chicken coop, smoke house, side table or anything else. Instead of going to the lumberyard for the wood, chop down a tree.
Live without electricity, running water, phones, TVs, your car or any other electronic that does not take batteries for an entire weekend and see how you fare.
In order to survive such a disaster, you must have the will to survive it. Determination, confidence, creativity, and a positive, can-do attitude may sound cheesy, but essential. The more self-sustaining you become, the more confidence you will have in your abilities to take your homesteading that much further.
There are things that will be difficult to make on your own. Stock up on these 10 items:
- Kerosene lanterns and fuel
- Fire starters
- Two-way and short wave radios
- Alkaline batteries
- Solar-powered devices and solar panels
- Reloading supplies
- Esbit stoves and fuel heaters
- First aid supplies
- Knives and tools
What steps are you taking to prepare for an EMP? Tell us about it in the comment section.
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