EMP - PRACTICAL PROTECTION
Many people have read the book "One Second After" by
William R. Forstchen and believe that would be the scenario after a sneak
EMP attack. Actually, such an attack is quite possible. North Korea has
enhanced-EMP nukes. Iran is developing nuclear weapons and could well have
one or two now. And both the Norks and Iran have launched satellites, so
they do have the missiles to deliver those nukes. Iran has also launched
SCUD missiles from "rust bucket" freighters and has shown they could deliver
an EMP attack from off-shore without even using an ICBM.
The attack itself as described in "One Second After" is
therefore quite plausible. It is the rest of the book that is completely
unbelievable. Let us look at the actual story line of the book to see how
the author not only knew nothing about survival but had no imagination or
knowledge of country living at all - and Forstchen is supposedly a real life
professor of history! The hero, Professor (Col.) John Matherson, supposedly
taught asymmetrical warfare before he retired from the military, yet knew
absolutely nothing about how to survive asymmetrical warfare!
One dominant theme in One Second After is that the main
character’s daughter was a Type 1 diabetic. Her medication needed to be
refrigerated in order to maintain potency. Right to the end of the book not
a single person in Black Mountain or Swannanoa had a working refrigerator.
The combined towns had nine doctors and not one of them had refrigeration
for any of their medications. The combined population of both towns was
given as about 10,000 people...and not one of them had a motor home or
travel trailer, if we are to believe the story line in the book. RV’s have
propane refrigerators, and just barely more than a pilot light is needed to
run an absorption refrigerator in an RV. A couple of RV refrigerators could
have kept badly-needed medications for the whole town from losing their
There are small refrigerators which run on 12 volt
electricity. It was never mentioned in the book, but there had to be an
store in one of those towns. An automotive alternator in a box, not
hooked up to anything, stored on metal shelving in a
building with a metal roof, would not be fried by EMP. Auto parts stores
have pulley blocks and V-belts. Other stores or individuals would have an
exercycle like a Schwinn Air-Dyne. It would take less than a day to hook up
an exercycle to an automotive alternator and be able to generate enough 12
volt electricity to charge an automotive battery and run a small
refrigerator without too much exertion. It never happened.
One with think that at least one person in the two towns
of Black Mountain and Swannanoa would have had an old
short wave radio
such as a Zenith TransOceanic. Or a small modern transistor SW radio stored
in a Faraday cage.
An exercycle powering an alternator can charge a 12 volt battery for
powering radios. An
to convert 12 v to 110 v, not connected to any appliances, would most likely
not be fried by an EMP pulse, certainly not damaged if stored in a Faraday
cage, and could power a
to hear news from undamaged parts of the world. Never happened in the book.
Nothing creative ever happened in the book! Their world
died with the EMP blast and they could not create even a semblance of a new
world with what they had left to use.
Look at the food situation in Black Mountain. Rationing
went into effect within days - 1200 calories a day for a month, then it was
dropped to 900 calories a day for another month, until the final battle with
The Posse cannibals at the end of the second month. In the book, 900 died of
starvation in the first month and in six weeks 2,000 were dead, children had
bloated stomachs, etc. Almost all modern diets are 1200 calories for women,
1500 calories a day for men, for the five or six weeks of a normal diet. On
those physician-approved diets, people lose weight, which is the point of a
diet, but they go to work and carry on a normal existence - they don’t drop
dead of starvation in a month!
It was the food situation in One Second After that really
shows the abysmal ignorance of the author, Forstchen. Remember the timing -
the EMP attack took place on a fine spring day. Many greens planted in
spring will be ready to eat in less than two months.
Meat was only cooked in a barbecue and had to be eaten in
a "gorge feast" as it absolutely could not be preserved or saved at all - it
had to be consumed virtually immediately. That means:
1. No one had a meat grinder and knew how to make
2. No one had a
3. No one had a
wood cook stove.
4. No one knew how to make
5. No one knew how to
6. Even after six weeks of "starvation" some meat
sources like bear were considered unpalatable because the meat was
greasy. In fact, fat is absolutely vital in a diet and those working
hard on minimal caloric intake actually crave fat!
Same for other food sources:
1. No one had a
2. No one had a
or could build
3. No one had a
4. No one ever learned
how to dry, can or preserve produce.
5. No one in the two towns had a gasoline powered
garden tiller so gardens could be planted. Older small gasoline
engines have magneto ignitions and would not be fried by EMP.
6. By planting quickly, lettuce, peas and other fast
growing greens could have been ready for consumption by the middle of
the second month!
7. Even by the end of summer
no one knew how to dry or
can squash, corn, berries and other produce so food would be
available in the winter.
8. Even by the end of the book, over a year
after the EMP attack, not a single person in the two towns ever
identified any wild or cultivated grains, ground them and preserved some
flour for bread in the winter, planted a field of grain so there
could be bread the following year,
seeds or planted a garden of "fuel
The town doctor was worried about
cholera or typhus,
but did not give a single thought to veterinary medications such as
Terramycin TM-25, a virtual specific for both. P. 171-172.
Not a single person in the two towns had a
kerosene lamp, stove or range. Nor
were there any wood ranges in town that could be used for canning, making
jerky, using the oven as a dryer, etc.
No one could
ammunition and cast bullets. No one could make a catapult to hurl
Molotov Cocktails at The Posse.
Nobody in Black Mountain or Swannanoa ever spoke with the
"legendary Franklins," the survivalists, to see if they might have some
ideas that would help everyone survive.
The final idiocy is an hour before the fight with The
Posse, Prof Matherson moves his family to Grandma Jen’s house. One hour!
They had been planning for weeks how to defeat The Posse and that involved
fires alongside the freeway, and those fires would burn up their house! But
they waited until the last minute and grabbed what they could for the move
to Jen’s house, leaving behind bedding, clothing and other supplies to be
burned in the fire. We are to believe that for two months the Matherson
family had been using water from the swimming pool. In Jan’s back yard was a
bubbling creek! (p. 316). It would have taken at most a day to rig up a
gravity flow water system using garden hoses so that toilets would flush,
etc. The bubbling creek water would still have had to be sterilized, but
would not have been full of algae and have to be carried!
Anyone who has read this website knows how to survive far
better than anyone in the towns of Black Mountain and Swannanoa, as
presented by William R. Forstchen. Of course it is possible that Forstchen
wrote the book as a deception, a satire, to illustrate the abysmal ignorance
of town leaders and society in general as being capable of taking any type
of steps toward self-reliance on their own, remaining hopelessly inept until
the calvary/central government rides to the rescue.
Iranian Nuke Attack on US Easy as EMP?
Nov. 18, 2011
Nuke Over U. S. Could Unleash Electromagnetic (EMP)
Military Source Warns of North
Korea's EMP Bomb
Sept. 7, 2009
Surviving EMP to depend on preparation
An EMP Attack, Thinking The Unthinkable
"Project STARFISH PRIME is
probably the most famous test shot in EMP lore because it burned out
in Hawaii at a slant range of 800 miles, but it was a high altitude
detonation (about 240 miles up). STARFISH was 1.4 Mt; a larger bomb at
higher altitude would reach out farther.
Conversely, a surface burst
also creates an EMP, but the pulse is very quickly attenuated.
Depending on the size of the burst, the pulse could be gone in 10-30
miles, depending on the size of the yield. It’s not as much the pulse
that’s being attenuated, but the ionizing radiation (which creates the
pulse) that’s stopped fairly quickly in the lower atmosphere."
A surprise EMP attack could well destroy all exposed
electrical equipment, including generators, and leave the country in the
dark for decades. The electrical infrastructure would fail, of course,
but so would the banking system, virtually all transportation, the
pumping of fuel, etc. In short, our country would be reduced to
1870's technology almost instantly. But individuals can prepare
now, while there is still time.
"EMP effects go beyond damaging equipment. They also disrupt the
ionosphere severely, which affects RF propagation of several radio bands
for anywhere from one hour to over a day. Projects TEAK and ORANGE (high
altitude, 3.8 Mt each) disrupted a Navy VLF comm link that was 3,000
miles away at the closest point to the blasts.
"But there’s also good news here. VHF and UHF transmissions are
typically line-of-sight and not impacted by ionospheric disturbances,
assuming the equipment survived the initial blast and pulse. Among other
things, the 2 m and 70 cm amateur bands would be functional after a
electromagnetic field pulses produced by weapons designed and
deployed with the intent to produce EMP have a high likelihood of
damaging electrical power systems, electronics and information
systems upon which any reasonably advanced society, most
specifically including our own, depend vitally," Wood said. "Their
effects on systems and infrastructures dependent on electricity
and electronics could be sufficiently ruinous as to qualify as
catastrophic to the American nation."
Warning, June 20, 2005
An Iranian political-military
journal, in an article entitled “Electronics To Determine Fate Of Future
Wars,” suggests that the key to defeating the United States is EMP
attack: “Advanced information technology equipment exists which has a
very high degree of efficiency in warfare. Among these we can refer to
communication and information gathering satellites, pilotless
planes, and the digital system.... Once you confuse the enemy
communication network you can also disrupt the work of the enemy command
and decision-making center. Even worse, today when you disable a
country’s military high command through disruption of communications you
will, in effect, disrupt all the affairs of that country.... If the
world’s industrial countries fail to devise effective ways to defend
themselves against dangerous electronic assaults, then they will
disintegrate within a few years.... American soldiers would not be able
to find food to eat nor would they be able to fire a single shot.”
(Tehran, Nashriyeh-e Siasi Nezami, December 1998 -January 1999)
(Click here for the entire article.)
For more information on EMP,
please see the following articles on this web site:
Building Faraday Cages;
Iran plans to knock out U.S. with 1 nuclear
America in the dark,
Ex-CIA chief warns of
EMP nuke threat,
Nations Planning an EMP
As most people depend upon city water that must be pumped through
electric pumps, a gravity flow water system would be a decided advantage
in long term survival. My booklet, "Rainwater
Collection and Storage," gives precise information on how to
collect and store water for your own family without attracting attention
Even if you have taken the protective measures given below, the most
likely timing of an EMP attack would be before noon on the West Coast,
about 3:00 PM on the East Coast, to catch as many vehicles on the
highway as possible - and while people are at work, far from their
homes. The roads would be clogged with vehicles that no longer
worked, families separated, and thus maximum disruption of the economy
and fear instilled in the populace. Remember, an EMP
attack would be a terrorist's dream, and causing maximum panic in the
civilian population would factor highly into the timing of such an
event. Therefore, wise people will have an
evacuation plan already formulated!
So how do we protect our equipment? There is no definitive
answer, as the results of testing for EMP has not been released to
the general public. An EMP is both an electric field and a perpendicular
magnetic field. The electric field is what does the damage and is
measured in volts per meter (V/m). We can infer and extrapolate,
but there are no guarantees, as an EMP pulse can only last 1/100th of a
second but project 50,000 to 100,000 volts per meter (V/m).
Sept. 2, 2005.]
There are two sorts of damage that can occur as a result of an EMP
pulse. The first type of damage is that caused directly to
exposed transistors, diodes, and circuit boards in radios, transmitters,
ignition circuits in vehicles, solar panel controllers, etc.
An EMP pulse travels in a straight line, so protection is needed from an
EMP from the sides and the top except if the object to be
protected is sitting on a conductive surface.
The second is through the accumulation of an overload of
electricity on a long line, such as a power line.
Metal Boxes and Small Metal Buildings
Faraday cages can be built to totally enclose sensitive equipment not in
use. This subject is covered in more detail at this
link for Faraday cages. In
general, the equipment is placed in a metal or foil covered box,
insulated on the inside, and preferably grounded. Exposed radios
and similar equipment are extremely difficult to protect, particularly
if they are plugged into a 110 volt household electric circuit. In
that case, spare equipment stored in Faraday cages would be most
advantageous. If the Faraday cages are sitting on a conductive surface,
they should be grounded. Grounding is safer in any case, though.
The second problem, long line accumulation of an EMP surge, requires
isolation of equipment and proper grounding, so the EMP pulse has an
easier path to earth than through the equipment. Ground rods
should be driven down to wet earth, if at all possible, to provide a
sufficient ground. That may mean an 8 foot ground rod, or even
longer, depending upon your location.
All the photos below are "thumbnails." Click on the photo to enlarge it,
then use the "back" button on your browser to come back to this page.
|At left is an assortment of
various types of ground clamps. The straps can be bolted
around odd shaped or large pieced of metal. Click the
picture to enlarge it. The clamp at the bottom right attaches to a
The ground clamps in the photo above cost less than $3.00 each, and are
available at almost any hardware store.
|At left are simple ground wires for electrical
equipment that must be plugged in, such as freezers. One end slides
under the cover plate in an electrical outlet, and the other end has a
screw which can be connected to a ground wire and thence to a ground
rod. (See below)
The package of two ground screws above cost me $2.49 at a True Value
Hardware store. True Value Hardware part #GCS12SM2.
At left is a 100 foot coil of steel guy wire.
It can be cut to whatever length is needed with strong bolt cutters.
Being flexible, it is easy to bend around corners. Steel is not as
good as copper, but will work.
Here a ground screw is attached to a length of guy
wire. A freezer or water pump can now be protected from an EMP surge.
There are no guarantees that a simple ground screw will
completely protect an electric motor plugged into the socket to which the
ground screw is attached. Grounding electric motors is hard! But
it is a very inexpensive way to help make sure that any electrical surges
find an easier path to ground than through an electric motor, and thus a
well pump or freezer have a chance of surviving an EMP pulse.
||At left is a common steel garden shed. At the
back left corner I have grounded it using 1/4" ground wire: The
insulated ground wire does not touch the base/floor of the shed so
things inside are safe.
The shed has a wooden floor, which is nonconductive.
An EMP pulse hitting the metal shed would be bled off to the ground wire, so
items inside should be safe. If items inside a metal shed need to be
grounded, the ground wire should be insulated and go to a separate ground
rod to prevent feedback! Let me explain "feedback." If two ground
wires are attached to the same ground rod, and only one wire, say the one
from a metal shed, feeds an EMP pulse to the ground, that same electricity
can flow back up (feedback) the ground wire to a grounded generator inside
the shed, for example, as the ground wires are effectively joined by the
ground rod. If two ground rods cannot be used, it is far better to
ground the shed and not ground a generator or ATV on a nonconductive floor
in the shed.
|A vehicle can be grounded with a chain attached to
a trailer hitch or the frame. This is not an ideal ground, but
should work with the voltages produced by EMP providing the chain is
laying on a wet, conductive surface. This is about the only
method of vehicle grounding that is truly portable. If the
vehicle is stored in a garage with a dry concrete floor, it would be
better to use an alligator clip clamped to the frame or trailer hitch
with the ground wire shown above. The other end of the ground
wire should be attached to a ground rod or water pipe.
The illustration above is for grounding a vehicle that is
not moving. How does one ground a moving vehicle? A dragging chain!
The chain above has enough length to wrap around the front of the trailer
hitch, just behind the rear axle and about 3 feet in front of the rear
bumper, with about 4" of chain left to drag on the ground. It would be
very hard for someone to see the dragging chain except on vehicles with lift
kits. The chain simply drags along on the pavement, makes very little
noise, and wears out relatively slowly. The frame and body of the
vehicle are normally insulated from the ground by the rubber tires, but the
dragging chain makes a good ground. I use a long enough chain so that
I could make 3 loops around the front of the trailer hitch and still have 4"
of chain dragging. When the chain wears down, I can remove the
attachment clamp, unwrap one loop in the chain, and again have enough chain
dragging to make a good ground. So, attach a ground chain and go
on vacation without worrying about being stuck.
Will a dragging chain actually ground a vehicle?
Yes. Until perhaps 40 years ago, many states required gasoline tankers
to be grounded via a dragging chain so a buildup of static electricity would
not cause a gasoline explosion. Then some bureaucrat realized the
dragging chain might cause some idiot to think there was a reason for the
chain, and therefore an explosion was possible. So, instead of using
chains to eliminate the problem, gasoline tankers were required to have a
tiny diamond shaped sign on the back reading "1203." The public was
not told that "1203" meant highly volatile gasoline was in the tank as that
too might scare them, but the sign was all the "cover" the bureaucrats
needed to say they had warned the public. Very clever. Insane, but
|This small alligator clip can be attached to bare
metal on a vehicle frame or trailer hitch, while the other end of the
ground cable is clamped to a ground rod. The alligator clip from
NAPA (part #BEL 726142) cost only $1.99, which is cheap enough
protection for a vehicle. The same clip can be used to ground Faraday
cages. This is an ideal setup for grounding a vehicle in a garage.
Older diesel engine vehicles are more reliable
under EMP conditions because they lack the computerized fuel management
and ignition systems of modern gasoline engine vehicles. However, that
does not mean that an ungrounded diesel vehicle would still start! It
would run, but getting current to the glow plugs might well mean the use of
a small, easily made jumper cable. Note on the diagram below the
controller, sensing resistor, dropping resistor, thermo switch, relays, etc,
all between the battery and the glow plugs. All those susceptible
components can be bypassed by using a jumper cable from the positive
terminal on the battery to the glow plug buss.
|A jumper cable between the positive
terminal on the battery and the glow plug buss (see arrow) will heat the
glow plugs when the engine is cold. The hood is opened, the jumper
cable attached, run back inside the vehicle and start the engine, then
run back and yank off the jumper cable. Bingo, your diesel engine will
start and run!
You will want to be pretty quick when using the jumper
cable. Each glow plug draws about 12 amps, so a 4 cylinder engine is
drawing almost 50 amps through that 10 gauge jumper wire. Once the
engine is running, you will want to pull off the jumper cable as fast as you
can. As long as the engine is warm, it will start without the use of the
jumper cable and glow plugs. The radio and some other electrical devices
would not work, but the vehicle would run!
|A jumper cable made using 10 gauge wire and small alligator clips
on each end. I made this one in 1977 for a Diesel Rabbit.
A running vehicle will be rare after an EMP attack,
and you won't want yours stolen. Some people know how to "hot wire"
the ignition system and may know about the jumper cable system described
above. But you can fool them if you want to. Take a look at the
fuel injector pump on a diesel engine. You will find a single, small
electrical wire attached to the injector pump. Diesel engines will run until
the fuel is shut off, so a small electro magnet pulls a shut off plug out of
its socket when the ignition key is turned on. When the ignition key
is turned off, electric current is off and the electro magnet releases the
plug to shut off the flow of fuel to the engine. It is easy to cut the
wire to the injector pump, splice in a small micro switch, run the wires
through an existing hole in the firewall, and install the micro switch under
the dashboard. Only you will know the switch is there. Flip off
that micro switch and the engine will not get fuel, it will not start,
even if the ignition switch is "hot wired."
This same technique can be used on older gasoline engine
vehicles with carburetors, points and a distributor that would still be
running after an EMP attack. There is a small black wire running from
the bottom edge of the distributor to the coil. Snip that wire, splice
in a micro switch installed under the dashboard, and turn the switch off
when the vehicle is parked. Even if someone "hot wires" the ignition
switch, the vehicle will not start because no electricity is
getting to the spark plugs! The battery would be ground down and too weak to
start the vehicle, but it would still be there and still be yours! All
you would need to do is charge (or replace) the battery, flip on the micro
switch, and the vehicle will start...roughly, as it would have been flooded
with fuel...but it would start and run again. The radio and some other
electrical devices would not work, but the vehicle would run!
To really confuse would-be thieves, it is possible
to install another micro switch to turn off the air conditioner compressor,
and it looks exactly like the micro switch to kill the engine. Only you
would know the combination of "up" or "down" on the switches to turn them on
or off. The
pulley on the front of air conditioner motors is always being turned by a
fan belt, but the compressor itself is not engaged until it is turned "on"
by the switch on the dashboard...that switch energizes an electro magnet
which engages a clutch and the air conditioner compressor motor will turn
and work. But there is a safety device, a low pressure cut off switch,
built into the back of the air conditioner receiver/drier: look for the
sight glass on the vertical cylinder and you will see a wire behind it.
Snip that wire, splice in a micro switch, and you can control
whether or not the air conditioner clutch will engage, while the normal
dashboard switch still controls the air conditioner vents and fan. In
this era of high gasoline prices, that little switch can save a lot of fuel
in normal driving conditions. Air conditioners can use up to 20% of
available engine power. When driving up a long hill, for example, the
micro switch can be flipped "off," the air conditioner compressor motor will
stop working, but cold air will still blow through the normal vents, saving
you precious fuel and preventing the engine from overheating while driving
up steep hills. In an emergency where you could literally be "heading for
the hills" with a heavily-loaded vehicle and probably pulling a trailer,
this little switch could very well keep the engine from overheating and
dying - the last thing you would need to happen in an emergency.
If you do any of this rewiring, plan ahead and use long
enough leads to the under-dash micro switches, or the engine compartment
will begin to resemble a spaghetti factory. Run the wires over to the
side of the engine compartment and try to make them look like normal engine
wiring. Those extra wires may drive your auto mechanic nuts, but they
will keep your vehicle running and safe!
None of the EMP protective systems described above are expensive...they
just take time and effort. And, of course, this must be done
now, before an EMP attack!
Questions from readers:
I have read
in the last week about EMP one article mentioned stored fuels or ammo
nothing more than a light wave with a different frequency. It would go right
through ammo or fuel. The French have done testing on EMP for us for over 20
years. If ammo or gasoline exploded from EMP, every infantryman would be
killed by exploding ammo strapped to his body, and everyone in a vehicle
would be incinerated by exploding fuel tanks. The military would cease
to exist. The government has tested for EMP effects, and soldiers
still carry ammo and ride in vehicles.
into earth (dirt) the EMP would "flow"?
on the dirt. If it's dry, then it penetrates straight down to moist dirt. If
wet, not very far. EMP is of uniform "density," not concentrated like a
lightning bolt. EMP would pass right through a tree without hurting it or
people standing beneath the tree, whereas lightning can kill the tree and
those standing near it. Of course if EMP hit a metal building and someone
was holding the ground wire in their hands, it could get real hair-raising,
as then it is concentrated. If the ground wire is laying on wet dirt or a
conductive surface, someone standing nearby could get fried. That is why I
ran very short ground wires at the back of buildings, etc, where possible.