The Basic Study Guide For Your EMP Survival

EMP is an important hazard to prepare for. It has the potential to disrupt critical infrastructure we depend on to sustain life, causing cascading effects of long duration over great areas.

EMP is not the only emergency that mankind should prepare for, but it is one of a handful of hazards that virtually everyone is enormously exposed to.

There is so much to do, and so little time. It’s easy to see why some of our readers ask themselves where to start from.

“I am very overwhelmed with trying to start prepping, especially for an EMP. I have studies what kind of food and seed to stock up on. I’ve read all the different scenarios that could cause an EMP survival situation. I just do not know how or where to start.”

David, from Ohio

Here’s where I’ll point you in the right direction!

Why Most Preppers Fail to Adequately Prepare for EMP

Most preppers do not make emergency preparations out of fear for some singular threat to the exclusion of all others as the negative “Doomsday Prepper” Hollywood-media stereotype would suggest, so there is no need to point out to most of you that EMP survival should be one aspect of a more comprehensive emergency plan.

Unfortunately, I have noticed that many otherwise responsible preppers are deficient in their EMP preparedness. I was curious as to why people would procrastinate EMP survival preparations in favor of preparing for smaller threats that they were less exposed to. Reasons varied, but here are some of the most common that I found:

  • Do not understand EMP well enough to get started.
  • Don’t know what to do.
  • Are unsure if EMP is really a threat at all.
  • Have read conflicting information and are not sure which to believe.
  • Don’t know how much it will cost.
  • Seems daunting.
  • Not convenient. There are easier things that can be done in other areas.

The trend was easy to spot. A general lack of understanding of EMP caused people move on to other tasks. I understand. EMP is a technical topic and the prospect of studying it is not appealing to everyone. The cure for this deficiency is also readily apparent.

If these people truly understood the magnitude of their exposure to EMP and what to do to fix it, I suspect that they would have chosen to prepare. People tend to think they fail because they lack willpower, when they usually really fail before they get to a test of will.

Where these survivalists actually failed was in their failure to sufficiently dedicate themselves to their cause. In this case, they failed to understand the risk (EMP) and their exposure to that risk. Had they really understood, EMP preparedness would been the natural thing to do. Preparing would be a mere function of their vision as opposed to a test of willpower.

As the issue of being unsure which information on EMP is correct and which is incorrect, sufficient study would eventually sort that out, but I’ll point you in the right direction so you don’t waste your time.

Basic Overview of EMP

If EMP is a new topic for you or you just want to start over at the beginning, this section will help you get your head around the subject. So here are a few sources you should start your study from.

National Geographic Video: Electronic Armageddon

You can watch it on YouTube or buy the DVD. If you are a visual learner, this video is a start.

FutureScience, LLC has a page called A Basic Introduction to Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse which is a great article on the type of EMP that is caused by a high-altitude nuclear detonation.

The Need to Prepare for EMP

This section will help you commit yourself to the cause of preparing for EMP a little like the films in an old-school driver’s education class that showed you brains on the highway. If they watch enough of those, even teenagers will drive more carefully … at least for a while. So don’t forget to periodically re-commit yourself if you begin to lose motivation.

“One Second After” and “One Year After”

one-afterWilliam H. Forstchen wrote the NY Times Best Seller “One Second After”, which is a fictional one.

Forstchen wrote this novel to help ordinary people better understand the threat of EMP and what it would be like to experience a nuclear HEMP.

The book is a fictional account of a town’s struggles in the wake of a nuclear HEMP, and how the community overcomes many of the obstacle we might face in such a scenario.

The book was very well received and “One Year After” is the next book in the series. These books are help readers put EMP in context and demonstrate what could happen if we do nothing.

EMPact America Website and Newsletter

EMPact America is an organization attempting to enact legislation to harden USA’s critical infrastructure against EMP. EMPact America’s website has an article titled, “What Is Electromagnetic Pulse?” that gives a good overview of EMP. The EMPact America website and newsletter also have a great deal of information on the need to prepare for EMP.

Apocalypse Unknown and Electric Armageddon

Dr. Peter Vincent Pry has led the fight to strengthen critical US infrastructure after being handed the torch from Dr. William R. Graham, the USA’s foremost expert on the subject of EMP.

“Apocalypse Unknown” details this fight against government bureaucracy and the powerful energy lobby, which is afraid of additional regulation and resisting any attempt to harden the electrical grid. This is every bit as big a battle against junk science as oil companies’ argument that lead is good for you and big tobacco arguing that smoking is not harmful to health.

For a  deeper understanding of EMP, there is another book of the same author – Electric Armageddon

EMP Commission Reports

Congress created two EMP commissions to assess the threat of EMP to the nation’s critical infrastructure. The reports of these commissions are helpful in understanding this threat. Here’s the link to EMP Commission Reports on EMPact America Website, in case you want to read it.

US Government Accountability Office Critical Infrastructure Protection Report

This report from GAO on US critical infrastructure highlights the fact that only certain portions of government have any protection from EMP. Your elected officials feel that government communications infrastructure is critical, but it is not critical to keep the infrastructure running that keeps you alive.


HEMP Protection for Ground-Based C41 Facilities Performing Critical, Time-Urgent Missions Part 1 Fixed Facilities. This spec is useful in understanding and constructing Electromagnetic shielding.

Don White’s Books on EMP

Don White is writing a detailed series on EMP preparedness and is three books in so far. Some readers may find them a little dry, but if you are interested in good information on how to protect homes or solar installations, they are full of important information.


EMP Articles at Survivopedia by Cache Valley Prepper

I have written a number of useful articles for Survivopedia spanning a number of EMP-related topics, such as: how to tell if an EMP has happened and what type of EMP it is, vehicles, buildings, solar installations, weapons, and more.

The search brought of a couple of article on other topics that you can skip past, but the average prepper should find them useful and technically accurate. CLICK HERE to find the EMP articles by Cache Valley Prepper on Survivopedia website.

The Darkest Days – How to Survive an EMP Attack to the Grid

The last but not the least, there is “The Darkest Days” – Survivopedia’s EMP survival guide that packs secrets few preppers know, borrowed from the resilient Amish, to survive in the coming days.

Here’s one of the reviews that you could easily find about our EMP survival guide:

Video first seen on Survival Guide.

Is there any other good source of information about EMP preparedness that we missed? Do you have any tricks to share about surviving a blackout? Are you still looking for a better way to prepare for this disaster scenario?

EMPCover2This article has been written by Cache Valley Prepper for Survivopedia.

Written by

Cache Valley Prepper is the CEO of Survival Sensei, LLC, a freelance author, writer, survival instructor, consultant and the director of the Survival Brain Trust. A descendant of pioneers, Cache was raised in the tradition of self-reliance and grew up working archaeological digs in the desert Southwest, hiking the Swiss Alps and Scottish highlands and building the Boy Scout Program in Portugal. Cache was mentored in survival by a Delta Force Lt Col and a physician in the US Nuclear Program and in business by Stephen R. Covey. You can catch up with Cache teaching EMP survival at survival expos, teaching SERE to ex-pats and vagabonds in South America or getting in some dirt time with the primitive skills crowd in a wilderness near you. His Facebook page is here. Cache Valley Prepper is a pen name used to protect his identity. You can send Cache Valley Prepper a message at editor [at]

Latest comments
  • What/where can I go to find out what critical parts I should keep in a Faraday cage for my diesel tractor? I can do without my car, but my tractor will be necessary so I want to keep spare electrical parts.

    • You can contact me at [email protected] and I’ll get you pointed in the right direction.

  • A service manual for it with wiring diagrams. Then are your gauges electromechanical (have a needle/pointer) or electronic (a tach may have a needle and still be electronic)
    Items that may fail from an EMP: alternator, voltage regulator, glow plug timer (depending on type), Dash gauges and/or sensors, GPS, planter gauges, etc.

    • Thanks! That’s a great start. Older diesels tend to much more resistant than gas motors and the fuel used to store longer, but that is no longer true because of additives.

      As a rule of thumb, less refined fuels store longer. The more highly-refined a fuel is, the shorter the storage life. But additives have shortened the life of diesel fuel.

  • I don’t specifically prepare for an EMP because I do not believe it to be a viable independent threat (i.e. outside of a full nuclear war), and even if I did, the current research does not provide us any meaningful guidance on what the real impact will be. The majority of what we see in prepper communities about EMP is pure speculation, and much of it contradicts existing test data (as limited as it is).

    • yes…because I put the safety and welfare of my family into the hands of ‘educated test data’! With thoughts like that, no need to worry! They are saving a cot for you in the FEMA camp…which you propably do not believe will ever happen either. Prepping to INCLUDE full scale EMP is not that much more than prepping without so, make the effort. Make the plan and take the action. No harm no foul. But to go ANY WHERE, and discount it, discourage prepping for it….is….well, I’m not sure….potentially criminal! You may see no value in it but it is one of those situations in which, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting Ross. : )

      There is a body of junk science sponsored by NERC and the powerful energy lobby a la “lead is natural and therefore not harmful” and the big tobacco studies that maintained for decades that smoking was not harmful to you health.

      If you research the subject thoroughly, you’ll find, though, that the nation’s academy of sciences, NASA, former heads of CIA, foremost authorities on the subject and recognized physicists are united. Michio Kaku recently commented on this. You’ll also find that Russia has developed and threatened to use EMP weapons against us and has hardened it’s grid against HEMP and that China is conducting EMP readiness exercises.

      That said, I understand the apparent lack of results in testing conducted by the EMP commission on automobiles. The test was unfunded. The vehicles were borrowed and the commission was on a “you break it, you fix it” policy so EMP field strength was gradually increased (not what happens in HEMP) and testing stopped as soon as anomaly was encountered so the vehicle would not be damaged severely. It was a bad test that Dr Peter Pry has rebutted.

      Beyond Dr Pry’s rebuttal, I would point out that everyone is using a bunk number for EMP field strength. No one has tested beyond 50kV/m yet we have had 60 years to improve the portion of nuclear yield expressed as gamma rays and EMP. We could see field strengths of many times that.

      I will agree with you that most of what we know is largely theoretical. High altitude nuclear testing was suspended as soon as we discovered the 1000-fold increased of the Compton Effect on EMP in the upper atmosphere. Without additional high-altitude nuclear testing we are going to have a lack of experience and test data. We are learning about high-energy electrons all the time. But that just means that there could be quite a bit about EMP, especially, HEMP that we don’t yet understand.

      This would seem to be backed up by the fact that the government rocket scientists who developed the THAAD EMP weapon system FAILED to shield cameras documenting testing of the THAAD weapon system from their own weapon system, knocking out their own cameras. That EMP wasn’t even nuclear in origin, but would seem to part of long tradition of scientists underestimating aspects of EMP just like the Hardtack Yucca Shot, the Starfish Prime test and the Soviet high-altitude tests in Kazakhstan in 1962.

    • I kind of agree with you, Ross, but I don’t like the disparage any efforts at prepping because it all helps to develop. the minset of self-reliance and sufficiency.

      But fear hype and book selling notwithstanding, the chance of something like terrorists getting their hands on a workable missile to shoot into the atmosphere over the U.S. with a powerful and sophisticated enough warhead to kill all power in the U.S. without getting blasted out of the air by one of our pulse laser satellite weapons before it even makes its first turn, is like a piss ant making it to the moon on his motor scooter. And with Trump in now, technical anti-terrorism programs by the military for just this sort of thing will improve.

      The most likely mass power outage grid problem will be either due to a Solar event or physical terrorist attack on the grid. (see my article on it) By either a coordinated take down of the transformer network to create a domino affect or computer hack shutting everything down, or a combination thereof.

      The threat level for a mass outage is Real. But not that much on the weaponized EMP level. EMP in tactical play during a nuke world war would always be part of the first attack to try to shut down communications and in-hardened military computer operations. So those initial launch missiles will face a formidable barrage of anti missile weapons taking most of them out, while at the same time counter attacking to kill the potential of any future enemy launches. It’ll all be over before anyone knows it. And with this new administration running the military, and certainly under General ‘Mad Dog’ , Electronic warfare hardening measures will improve also.

    • Well, your going to wish you built a faraday cage because the EMP will be used on this nation, at night when the majority of the population is sleeping. Not only will most not know what happend but there will be no way to communicate with anyone else. There will be no national warning because the entire nation will be dealt the first attack of a even bigger more deadly part 2 of the attack. So #1 is EMP and #2 is all major cities in America will get nuked. Half of the US population will die within 1hr of this invasion. China from the westcoast ans Russia from the eastcoast, both will launch nuclear missles from their submarines parked underwater not far from the beach head. Once the detonations start taking place, people will start to emerge from their sleep and be faced with combat units on foot. Chinese/Muslims/and whoever else will attack on land via the southern boarder. Russian and Chinese troops will be on foot from their perspective positions and also, Alaska will be dealt with since their closest diatance of 84km from the Russian mainland. That attack will allow a mobilzed attack from the northwest to occur and then we will have the Russian bombers coming out of the north flying over Canadian airspace with zero resistance from our supposive ally. Do you want to rethink your position on preparing for a invasion??? America has created to many enemies all over the world. Our arrogant political leaders incorpirated with a extremly ignorant and to busy to care population will get a rude awakening. This country has been in a constant state of war since sometime after our first invasion of the war in 1812. America is a morally sick and twisted nation. We (the majority) have turned our back on God (God of the Bible) and now we are gonna get a severe judgement. Israel has a covenant with God and America from its creation at the time of the founding fathers, dedicated this once great nation to the Lord God Almighty by which if we ever lost our way and didnt return to the old ways in time si ce past and follow the commandments given, then we (America) would have to suffer the consequences and chastisments of the Lord. I am not a happy camper. You best prepare. Oh and one more thing. The Christian churches in America have not warned their people. Thats so sad. And beware of the Muslims, they lay en wait for the suprise attack

  • If you want to know what it is like to live after an EMP attack then visit Williamsburg Colonial Virginia. The houses and buildings are a lot like the ones in the modern world except they were built in the 1700s with hand tools. The houses all had fireplaces instead of wood or coal stoves and open wells instead of running water from driven or drilled wells. I suppose they had outhouses of some sort although that is not depicted to the public. Life would be similar to then only the ghostly images of the modern world would be superimposed on the 1700s. The village pharmacy would have its painkillers made of kratom, poppy, cannabis sativa, willow, tart cherry, or other preparations, but would also have homemade penicillin, and hexamine. There would be hundreds of tinctures and decoctions made from plants and herbs. Anti-viral drugs made from elderberries and anti-bacteria’s solutions of onions, garlic, horseradish, hot pepper, turmeric in vinegar. People would be carrying modern firearms with cartridges loaded with black powder or homemade guncotton. Animals would be raised, especially horses and mules along with sheep, goats, chickens and cattle. Vegetable and herb gardens would be everywhere. Food would be preserved by smoking, drying, salt and sugar (honey) curing, pickling, fermenting and canning. Freezing would come later when solar-ammonia units could be built. Small motors, some with generators and some small tractors and cars could be powered with wood gas. More likely and resourcefully buses would be used instead of cars. Communications may be as simple as spark-gap transmitters and crystal receivers, but, hey, the Shadow, Green Hornet and Little Orphan Annie in Morse code are better than nothing. The accomplishments made from the 1860s to the 1960s were phenomenal with European immigrants building ships that sailed above and below the water, airplanes flying in the skies and rockets to the moon. Bridges, roads, dams, and an electrical grid were built. Schools and Hospitals were built. Children learned reading, writing and arithmetic so that they could build even more infrastructure. These innovations did not come out of Nigeria or Mexico. Things might stay a little simpler, this time around and that might be a good thing.

    • Thanks for for sharing that Heinrich.

      While agree that the picture you paint of a simpler life is appealing, there is a huge knowledge gap to achieve that. Millions would need to be educated. Factories could need to be retooled. Livestock raised, farms divided and retrofitted. This would take a very long time.

      During the Great Depression, 25% of the population was engaged in food production and another 25% had parents who had been so engaged. They were able to plant gardens and prevent untold numbers from starving. What do think that number is today? I have sobering news … less than 2% of the population is now engaged in food production.

      If you have tilled a garden, what do you think the average person’s fist harvest would be if they tilled under their landscaping and planted it with seed from a seed bank (assuming they had them)? Soil needs to be analyzed and amended. Gardening is a skill learned from repeated seasons and years of failure. Their first harvest would be abysmal.

      Someone in this position would need to have at least 2 years of food storage to transition to the lifestyle you envision and you need a whole lot of land per person to sustain that lifestyle. We would have to experience great die-offs for that to happen. Areas would be desertified by people descending on scant natural resources like plague of locusts around big cities. Africa and the Middle East have experience this. Ancient forests were reduced to deserts during millennia upon millennia of human habitation, war, catastrophe, migration and competition for resources.

      I do agree that we need a simpler, more antifragile way of life and that low-grade volatility is good for us to the degree that we are antifragile. Adversity will build character for those who grow stronger in response to it. This abounds in natural systems, but complicated man-made systems are much more fragile.

  • this is all great but near the beginning of the article you should have mentioned what EMT is. l might have understood better what the article is trying to tell me. ???

    • LOL!!! I’m betting most of us are thinking the same thing…..if you are in a site like THIS, one would expect you’d already KNOW what an EMP is!!!!

    • Thanks or reading and taking the time to comment Vicki. : )

      Just scroll down to the first video in the article and it will give you a short overview of the threat EMP poses. Hope that helps.

  • What are the most important electronic devices to protect from an EMP? I’ve wondered about this a lot and wonder if I will be the only one in my town or one of several that have working electronic devices. It is probable that most people will protect smaller devices such as cell phones and maybe even small computers or iPad and such but when there are no longer any cell towers the only cell phones that will work will be satellite phones. The one thing I can think of that might me really useful would be Ham Radios as the have tremendous range that could possibly allow communications with people who are outside the EMP zone. There is also the concern about power to recharge the device. Unless some sort of charging system (I’m thinking Solar) is also protected then there won’t be a way to recharge the portable device.
    Do you have any thoughts on this?

    • This is going to vary somewhat by need where people are dependent on an oxygen concentrator, CPAP, refrigerated insulin and so on, but I’ll list a few things I think everyone should have.

      Tactical Flashlights
      Area Lights
      NOAA Public Alert Certified All Hazards Radio
      Amateur Radio Equipment
      Short Range Radios: GMRS, MURS, CB, Marine etc.
      Portable Solar Array powerful enough to recharge a deep cycle car battery in 1-2 days
      12v Charge Controller
      Cell Phone
      Data Backups
      Tablet or Notebook Computer with charger & peripherals
      DC/AC Converter
      12v Small Batter Chargers/Maintainers & a stock of quality rechargeable batteries
      Battery Testers
      Digital Multi-meter
      Kill-a-Watt Meter (to test draw for appliances you may want to hook up to solar)
      Digital Camera, charger & MicroSD Memory
      Solar USB Battery Pack
      12v DC to USB Intelligent Charger
      12v DC to Anderson Powerpole Adapters (pretty much anything with an LED that you want to work that has sufficient conductor length needs to be protected)
      DC goose neck LED
      USB goose neck LED

      Check out my articles on building an energy stockpile for specific recommendations on renewable energy, but those are some of the core items of the top my head. That would make good article. Maybe I’ll inventory mine and write it.

      Then there is also support equipment that would not be harmed by EMP but that you would need to he on hand like: power cables, Anderson Power Pole connectors, crimpers, wire strippers, battery terminals and so on.

      That should get you started. Just think along those lines.