If you’ve read the book One Second After by William R. Forstchen you know all too well just how devastating an EMP attack would be if carried out on the continental United States. Mass chaos, horrific violence, millions of deaths and years to recover are just some of the hardships the book describes in vivid detail While the book was a work of fiction it nonetheless has many ties to reality, the most prominent being that the US is still vulnerable to an EMP attack and the consequences of such and attack would be utterly catastrophic Don’t take my word for it, look not further than The Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack (thanks to Lux for the link). This report was published by a commission in 2004 and lead by Dr. William R. Graham, Chairman of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack. The overview is entitled EMP IS CAPABLE OF CAUSING CATASTROPHE FOR THE NATION and includes the following text:
Depending on the specific characteristics of the attacks, unprecedented cascading failures of our major infrastructures could result. In that event, a regional or national recovery would be long and difficult and would seriously degrade the safety and overall viability of our Nation. The primary avenues for catastrophic damage to the Nation are through our electric power infrastructure and thence into our telecommunications, energy, and other infrastructures. These, in turn, can seriously impact other important aspects of our Nation’s life, including the financial system; means of getting food, water, and medical care to the citizenry; trade; and production of goods and services. The recovery of any one of the key national infrastructures is dependent on the recovery of others. The longer the outage, the more problematic and uncertain the recovery will be.
On September 12, 2012 Brandon Whales, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Infrastructure Threat and Risk Analysis Center, had the following to say while testifying before the House Committee on Homeland Security when describing the potential impacts to critical infrastructure.
Overall, EMP in its various forms can cause widespread disruption and serious damage to electronic devices and networks, including those upon which many critical infrastructures rely, such as communication systems, information technology equipment, and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) modules. SCADA modules are used in infrastructure such as electric grids, water supplies, and pipelines. The disruptions to SCADA systems that could result from EMP range from SCADA control errors to actual SCADA equipment destruction. Secondary effects of EMP may harm people through induced fires, electric shocks, and disruptions of transportation and critical support systems, such as those at hospitals or sites like nuclear power plants and chemical facilities.
While words and quotations are great, videos are even better at getting the point across . Check out this video which was originally aired as part of the Future Weapons series, which shows in detail how quick and lethal an EMP strike would be. Imagine if you were in a car when a strike occurred, or even worse if you were at 30,000 feet in an airplane. One EMP expert in the video was asked: “What do you think would happen in the first 24 hours after an attack?” His response: ”Uh, the word that comes to mind is chaos.”
While there isn’t much the average citizen can do to prevent an EMP from being detonated high in the atmosphere, there are a few precautions one can take to protect (shield) sensitive electronic devices from EMP’s. 2 way radios, weather radios and other communication devices can be protected by simply using an old microwave. Simple instructions over on Ehow.com detail how quickly this can be accomplished.
Use a nonfunctional microwave oven as an EMP safe. As long as the oven is intact physically, with no gaps between the door and the body, it will function as an EMP shield. While it will protect against some threats, for better protection, solder a braided copper grounding strip from the metal body of the oven to a cold water pipe (ground). This will protect against interior arcing from an extreme event.
If you have something more substantial to protect than small radios, check out this page on the Do’s and Don’ts of building your own Faraday Cages. Or check out this video on YouTube on how to build a simple Faraday Cage out of an old shelf.