Actions to Take During an EMP Attack

Categories: Prepping

Electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) are intense pulses of electromagnetic energy resulting from solar caused effects or man-made nuclear and pulse-power devices. Of these, nuclear EMP has the most ubiquitous effects because of the combination of its broadband nature and large area coverage. Nuclear EMP has the demonstrated potential to disrupt, damage, or destroy a wide variety of electrical and electronic equipment. The strength and area coverage of nuclear EMP environments depends on the warhead type and yield, and the altitude and latitude of the detonation. A nuclear device detonated at altitudes between 30 and 400 kilometers generates an EMP with amplitudes in the tens of kilo volts per meter with a radius of effects from hundreds to thousands of kilometers. This high-altitude EMP (also known as HEMP) effect couples to and can disable electrical and electronic systems in general, but poses the highest risks to long-line networks, including electric power and long-haul communications.

Although an EMP is also generated by low altitude or surface bursts (referred to as source region EMP or SREMP), the affected area is localized compared to a HEMP. For this reason, this action plan focuses on larger scale EMP events produced by high altitude detonations. A HEMP event includes three wave forms: E1, E2, and E3. The E1 waveform is a fast (nanosecond rise time, hundreds of nanoseconds duration), broad-band pulse that disrupts systems in general, including long-line electrical systems, computers, sensors, and electronic based control systems. The E2 waveform is longer and much lower in amplitude than the E1 waveform and manifests itself by enhancing the EMP currents on long lines in the microsecond and millisecond regime. E2 current pulses are comparable to currents induced by nearby lightning strikes. The E3 waveform is a low-amplitude, long-duration pulse, persisting for hundreds of seconds that induces currents in long power and communication lines, destabilizing or damaging connected equipment such as transformers and solid state communication line drivers. E3 waveform effects are comparable to those from solar geomagnetic effects. Most conversations about EMP focus on either E1, the large initial energy pulse, or E3, the smaller and longer duration effect, but to properly address EMP, all portions of the waveform must be considered.

EMP Action Plans Following development of the Joint Strategy, both DOE and EPRI committed to developing separate, but coordinated,Action Plans that would implement the five strategic goals. EPRI’s plan focused on those actions that industry would undertake to mitigate EMP risks; DOE’s plan (this Action Plan) delineates the steps that DOE will take to address EMP risks.Although the two Action Plans were developed independently, DOE and EPRI collaborated closely to ensure that the plans complement one another and avoid duplication of effort. The U.S. infrastructure for electric power generation, transmission, and distribution is predominately owned by private industry and thus its protection lies largely in their hands. In recognition of this, EPRI’s industry-focused EMP Action Plan was developed in support of its member companies and the Electricity Sub-sector Coordinating Council (ESCC), 2 and it was designed to inform industry investment decisions.

The research that is outlined in the EPRI EMP Action Plan is scheduled for completion over the next three years.DOE’s Action Plan, by contrast, emphasizes the Federal government’s ability to clarify and communicateEMP threats and impacts, reduce HEMP vulnerabilities and facilitate the energy sector’s response and recovery after HEMP events. While the focus of this plan is on protection from and mitigation of HEMP effects, many of the actions proposed herein can be scaled to address high-power radio-frequency weapon (RFW) events that may impact a smaller area than a HEMP event and are also relevant to geomagnetic disturbances (GMD)3 which are similar in system interaction and effects to the E3 portion of the nuclearEMP waveform. Table 1 below compares many of the attributes ofEMP andGMD for greater context. The DOE Action Plan was developed with input from inter agency partners, the DOE National Laboratories, and the electric utility industry, in part through a one-day session with more than 50EMP and electric power industry experts, to identify, discuss, and prioritize potential action items within the context of the five goals of the JointEMP Resilience Strategy.

Experts were also brought in individually to identify and discuss potential action items. An initial set of suggested action items was then developed by the Idaho National Laboratory with support from the Los Alamos, Sandia, Oak Ridge, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. A subsequent working group enhanced the document and compared the action items with the recommendations made in several major studies that address the EMP threat, such as the 2008 EMP Commission 4 and the 2015 Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) Gemunder Center EMP Task Force5 reports. Recommendations from these and other studies were considered when determining DOE’s final recommended action items. The working group obtained reviews from the participants in the earlier one-day session. DOE then revised the contents accordingly, addressed comments, and prioritized and vetted the final set of action items with EMP experts in order to finalize the DOE Action Plan.

Here are some things you can do at home to prepare for an event like this (taken from

1 – Deal with fires. It’s possible that the EMP may have generated electrical fires. Quickly check around the house (smoke detectors wired into your home’s electrical system will not be operational) and smell for smoke. If there’s a fire, putting it out, or GETTING OUT of the house, will be your first and most immediate step. 

2 – Use your cash. In the first few days after an EMP strike cash will still have value. Take all of your cash and that radio flyer wagon your kids have and walk down to the corner store. Avoid the big retail stores, I suggest finding the corner gas station or local drug store. The owner of the store will no doubt be there, concerned that the items in the store are unprotected during a power outage. Explain to the owner that you are in need of some supplies, can pay cash and do not require change. Tell him/her that you will give them an extra $100 to allow you to “shop” for a few minutes. Load up your wagon with anything you can find to include medication, candy bars, water bottles, pop tarts, lighters, hand sanitizer etc etc. Of course you should be well stocked at home but you might as well get rid of your worthless paper money in exchange for any amount of extra supplies you can get your hands on. In a week (maybe less) most stores will be completely looted so you need to take advantage of this moment.

3 – Fill up the tub(s) with water. Hopefully you have a water bob for each bath tub in your home in addition to several other water storage devices and water purification/filtration devices. Remember a down grid means that fresh water will stop flowing to your home very quickly. Fill up your tub as soon as you can, that extra hundred or so gallons could prove invaluable. If you are concerned about the quality of the water remember you can add 8 drops of regular Clorox bleach per gallon to help purify what you have in the tub.

4 – Talk to your neighbors. This step is absolutely critical, you have to get out and talk to your close neighbors and explain to them what is going on. They will be in denial for the most part, hopefully you have copies of theEMP report printed off which you can distribute as you go door to door. Explain to them what is going on and that time is critical, let them know a worst case scenario means that there will be no help coming for quite a long time. Additionally mention the following to them. a. Discuss a neighborhood watch. Tell them that in a few days or weeks things will get dangerous with hungry people roaming the streets. It is essential that you define your neighborhood’s boundaries and set up a neighborhood watch of sorts, assigning people to different shifts. b. Offer to hold a meeting. Set a time that you will have a meeting at your home, say every day after sunrise in your garage.

  Page Turn