EMP Survival: Is Your Home Ready For The Blackout?

Any prepper knows “the rule of three”, but I bet most of them think about applying it only in a bug out situation.

Well, let me tell you what I think: in case of an EMP, you need a safe and warm shelter, clean water to drink, and also proper meals to preserve your energy and temper for the hard times to come.

Now that you know that, think about how your home would resist to an EMP blast. Would you have enough heat and food, and would your OPSEC be the same when left in the dark?

Let’s address these questions below, and find that answers that might save you and your family in case of an EMP!

How Do You Know it Was an EMP Strike?

There is at least one way to get an easy answer. All you need to determine whether you are experiencing a regular power outage or an EMP are only three transistor AM/FM/ Shortwave radios.

Using three transistor AM/FM/Shortwave radios, an improvised Faraday cage and a simple SOP, you can determine whether you are experiencing a simple blackout or an EMP and if it is an EMP, whether it is geomagnetic or nuclear in nature.

There are a few steps to take in order to find out the answer, and you’ll find them detailed in our article Total Blackout: How To Tell If An EMP Has Happened.

Can I have a Faraday Home, Please? And a Garage, Too!

Most preppers already know that the basic EMP proof tool to protect your electric and electronic devices is a Faraday cage. They’ll definitely use it

Since a box is still not enough to protect everything that might get broken by an EMP (solar panels included), here comes the question about EMP-proofing bigger spaces and even a whole building.

Yes, it’s doable, but there is much more to take into account than having proper materials for the job.

“Quonset Huts have a steel skin, and steel is a conductor, so they must provide some shielding against EMP. Almost 200,000 of the buildings were manufactured for WWII, some are still in use by the military to this day and many others are still knocking around as surplus, so maybe this could be an inexpensive way to build a shielded home or retreat or some sort. But the subject of EMP is complex, and a building is a major investment. For most people, it would be a considerable waste of resources to erect a building that did not serve its intended purpose.”

Some people would think about turning a Quonset Hut into an EMP-shielded house, like the reader whose question was posted above, but, as our writer Cache Valley Prepper thinks, with this question the devil is in the details.

If you decide to give it a try, read his article about how to turn your Quonset Hut into an EMP-shielded home before renting a crane.

EMP Proof CarAs for your car, there is such thing as EMP proofing. If you decide to create a viable EMP proof car and you have the time, money, and patience to make the car roadworthy, then you can truly start your search for pre-’80’s cars in the local scrap and junk yards. You’ll find the hints to follow in our article EMP Survival: The Essential List For Your Car’s Top Systems.

Think twice when buying a new vehicle, as most of the new cars are vulnerable to an EMP strike. We have a list that might help you, if you read our article about Top 10 Vehicles For Your EMP Survival.

The last but not the least – your energy stockpile. Start small to build big: get pocket-sized solar power solutions first, then man-portable solar energy means, and finally, think about larger alternative energy solutions. Find a guide to help you out through the process in this article about building your energy stockpile.

Heating & Cooling

When talking about alternative sources of heating, there is much more to explain than one single article might cover. You could start your research reading this Survivopedia article on heating without electricity and follow the links within, then build small heating devices like this candle heater that our writer Carmela Tyrell has made.

Don’t give up cooking just because the power grid is down! Read our article about how to cook without electricity for the basics about cooking off-grid, and you can switch to unconventional methods like cooking on your car’s engine. Theresa Crouse wrote an article that you shouldn’t miss about how to use your car for cooking, which also includes a few recipes to try on the road. Literally.

We almost have winter at the door, so the first thought about in case of a blackout is losing the primary source of heat. This is common sense in October, but you would think the other way in July: you need cooling for you, and at least a part of your food too.

As EMP-proofing your air-conditioner might not be an easy project, you will probably turn to other cooling devices, as these low cost 5 projects you can DIY.


You think your running water won’t be affected in case of an EMP, but you might be deadly wrong. Tall buildings reliant on most types of booster pumps will lose water pressure past the bottom floors. Buildings with rooftop tanks have water until the tanks run dry.

Entire cities will lose water pressure forcing boil-water advisories into effect for any water that does make to you or that you manage to scrounge up. But without electricity, most households will be unable to boil water. Remember that the NE US blackout of 2003 left millions of Michigan residents without any water.

This is the moment you turn to your water reserves. Reusing grey water is a back-up, but remember that most of the systems require a power source to work properly. This is one of the aspects to take into account sooner than that, when you start building your energy stockpile.


Considering the current trend of integrating microelectronics technology into everything that we have in our home, including security devices and firearms (especially those integrating lasers), an EMP will likely change the elements of your defense. Then what should you do? The answer is also a two-parter.

Part 1: Train without technology before you train with technology, which means among others:

  • Learn to use a map and compass first, and then a GPS.
  • Learn to shoot with open sights first, then with a red dot.
  • Learn to shoot in low light with tritium night sights first, then with night vision.

Part 2: Go through your SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) from a post-HEMP paradigm. Walk through them step by step from imagining what would go wrong if a HEMP had occurred. It might mean

  • swapping a battery powered keypad lock for a mechanical one,
  • “down-grading” from an LED lamp assembly in your Surefire tactical flashlight to an incandescent lamp,
  • selecting an ASP baton over a Taser or practicing using a secondary technique after your primary fails, just like you practice failure-to-fire drills when you learn to defend yourself with a side arm.

Turn to off-grid home defense methods, like traps, defensive bushes or spooky pets that will keep the intruders out.

Our power grid is old and vulnerable, and a long term blackout – whatever its cause would be – could easily change our world in the worst possible way one can imagine. Prepare yourself and prepare your home for an EMP, and then you could survive any type of disaster!


Written by

John Gilmore is an army Vet, specialized in wilderness survival. Now he lives with his wife and 2 daughters on their farm close to Arizona. He has instructor level credentials and skills in various survival disciplines. He is an enthusiastic DIY expert, self-reliant and a proactive defender of our Constitutional rights. He strives to make a positive mark in this world and that's why he's writing for Survivopedia, using a pen name to protect his real identity.

Latest comments
  • Unless you live in a community of similar homes that also has their own 24/7 security … any home that can survive an EMP attack will be overrun by those who steal , kill, and utilize squatters rights.

    • So how to make your home look like it DIDN’T survive?

  • I expect that you assumed, in your article, that the people you are addressing already understand the extent of the EMP probabilities. However, I’m not sure that’s the case. Everyone that I speak to believes that an EMP event is a concept conjured up by extremist, right wing nut jobs and many preppers don’t completely understand the level of risk. They need to know that the pentagon has already spent billions protecting key installations. Certain Senators have been screaming for years that the Congress must do something, but you know what those idiots are all about. For Russia and Israel, the EMP is the weapon of choice against a national attack, but even better, as the weapon to use in a surprise attack. For terrorists, a suitcase sized nuclear weapon attached to a weather balloon that can reach extreme altitudes, can render up to 25% or more of the United States helpless and its people completely without resources to survive. It’s the perfect weapon of course, since it only destroys electronics, leaving buildings, cars, and other infrastructure intact. Of course 90% of the people will eventually die from lack of food, water, medical services, etc. And let’s not forget a solar flare from the sun. These CME’s have occurred several times over the last decade, but that haven’t hit the earth, since the spherical sun can generate an eruption at any point from its surface. We have recently had several close calls that have knocked out Satellites. However, the Sun’s CME’s increase in intensity every 10 to 13 years, so don’t discount this source either.

  • And they want all electric cars by 2020. What is going to power them? If our grids go down there will be no electricity. No cars. We are having more brown outs every year.

    • Don’t worry about not being able to drive electric cars. You won’t be able to drive fuel-burning cars either, because electrical power is what pumps the fuel from the station’s tanks to your car’s tank. Refineries won’t run without their computerized control systems; no fuel or much of anything else will be transported. No transportation of the food that can’t be processed or even grown–don’t you know farmers need fuel to grow crops?

      To give the short answer, most of us won’t survive 3 weeks after a large emp. Prep all you want, but you’ll have to battle to keep what you’ve put aside from ferocious gangs.

      I suspect the only long term survivors will be those peepers who’ve managed to set up in some hidden isolated location.

      • About cars: Check out Wood gasification. This was used in WW2 by a lot of people. Basically it runs you vehicle off of wood. I have not made one, but I do have a set of laminated plans for it. (Yes. I laminate a lot of things. All sorts of maps, print outs of supply warehouses, survival articles, etc.)
        Ferocious gangs? If you are 15 – 20 miles down the back rural roads there will be very few gangs. In a major EMP scenario they won’t have transportation either. So most gangs will be on the main roads. Your main concern will be neighbors. So if you don’t live in your retreat, then visit often and get to know the locals. Then when the SHTF get there fast.
        During the 1980’s I lived on what was basically a 30 square mile island in scrub farm country.. There were just three roads into it. Depending on the SHTF scenario, my group had plans to block those roads. If necessary ride bicycles and cut down telephone poles. Use a tractor to haul a trailer to the good bridge. Then vehicles are blocked. EMP? Cover the bridge with broken glass and caltrops. That with a few bodies laying on it would probably deter the casual looter.. There was still access through the forest and when the river was low. But the casual mob would be detoured.

  • We have already made one huge mistake. We didnt keep preps secret, and now i know which neighbours will be knocking on our door for drinking water and csnned goods.

  • It’d be hard to cook on yer car motor if yer car won’t run.