{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Vote -1 Vote +1rick kates
August 6, 2010 at 9:08 am

Hey Dave,
Just a few comments on some of the survival TV shows that have been airing. Really love the Man/Women show, it really show’s a lot of good basics and many ideas on the mindset of survival. The show the colony, I have a few problems with
because of many things in it. 10 acres of Loiusiana swampland, and the scavenging skills of the participants are not greatly desired. A place where firearms would be in abundant supply, as proven after Katrina and our own Tornado that hit Greensburg KS, there was a article in the newspaper about how many firearms were found laying everywhere some in excellant condition. Even an area after a general evacuation there would still be many excellant supplies
that could be found, specially in an urban setting like they are in. So any ideas\on the subject.
Thanks Rick


-1 Vote -1 Vote +1john
August 6, 2010 at 10:15 am

the key to security is long guns shot guns and side arms and ammunition to go to what u have and also having food and water supplies and additional clothing that is untaminaed and to have the means to open your food supply and cook it and also first aid supplies and training and have plenty of them. the best shows to watch also is the best defense survival, the history channel after appacalypse ngc world without oil and other shows like personal defense tv which are good jumping off points and should be seen and researched to find out which is the best methods of survival


Vote -1 Vote +1Richard Tylock
August 6, 2010 at 12:48 pm

I have been following emails sent and agree with the survive in place concepts. The one exception that most have in their plans that will not work well is some expect like the latest History chanel of living off the land for a food supply. It will be brief in most areas. Unskilled, and the fact there is only limited supply, a person could spend h their entire time to seek a food supply.
EMPs it seems not enough is know for protection except it affects electronics. Some say as long as not running, and unplugged, it is just fine on radios. Others believe burried with foil covering, and metalic boxes, probably will be fine. I know of one group who are building tube type radios of the old days.
They already have device designed for LEOs that can melt the electronics on a car, that can stop a chase pronto. However must have a down side, because they are not in use. It only works on the electronics while the vehicle is in operation I have also been told EMPs will stop the world as we know it, and to survive in place, with a plan, and supplies would be a sensible start.


-1 Vote -1 Vote +1J. Kraemer
August 6, 2010 at 2:09 pm

An EMP attack is THE destructive force that I believe is most likely to cause enough catastrophic effect to bring down our current way of life. Along with David’s fictional examples of EMP, there is another that plays a fairly large role in “Ocean’s Eleven”.
And in my preparation, I still have one large item to purchase should such a disaster occur…an “EMP-proof” car or truck. While it would take a lot of hard work to ground an automobile, I’ve been on a perpetual lookout for a vehicle made before the early 80’s, which is when car manufacturers started putting computer chips in our automobiles.
I would agree that it’s best to prepare for all catastrophic scenarios, but an EMP attack to me seems the most imminent.


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1DougSter
August 7, 2010 at 7:43 pm

The single most serious threat from an EMP is to solid-state (SS) electronic components: transistors, diodes, and integrated circuit components. Essentially, what happens is that an EMP creates a HUGE electromagnetic field, which electronic devices “see” as a voltage source. Every PN junction within the SS components attempts to rectify that voltage source, but since it is so large, their current ratings are exceeded and the junctions burn out. Shielding can prevent some damage, but it must be very good shielding – aluminum foil will not do. Also, it matters not if the SS equipment is powered or unpowered at the time of the EMP; the damage will still happen if the PN junctions are exposed.

There is virtually no threat to electrical system transformers themselves because their step-up and step-down ratios are usually pretty low. Any damage to transformers would have to result from the EMP being stepped up to a level high enough to arc through transformer windings – highly unlikely. The REAL threat is to all the electronics that control power generation, regulation, and distribution. A sufficiently large EMP would damage/destroy enough of the control systems, thus the power grid, for a very long time. We no longer have old fashoined electromangetic or electromechanical control systems, so power restoration would be agonizingly slow.

Vacuum tube electronics WILL survive even the largest EMP because there is no physical (PN) junction within tubes to burn open. Virtually all other electronic components will be unaffected by an EMP. But, the earliest use of SS diodes, as signal detectors, began in the 1940s, so even some “all tube” vintage circuits contain SS diodes. (Yes, there are tube diodes that could be retrofitted.) It’s interesting to note that some of the Soviet Union’s most sofisticated fighters of the cold war era were fitted with electronic systems that contained no SS devices at all, but instead used many, many miniature vacuum tubes fastened to circuit cards.

Finally, the comments about older cars still functioning after an EMP are generally correct with the following corrections: You will have to go back WAY earlier than 1980s models, or even most 1960s models. Any car with an alternator contains SS diodes within that alternator – see paragraph one above as to why that is a problem. However, those diodes generally have VERY high current ratings, on the order of several hundred peak amps or more, and they MAY survive a large EMP. To be sure of having a running automobile, you’d have to have a car with a true Kettering ignition and a true generator, NOT alternator. (This illustrates a serious technical flaw concerning automotive systems contained in the otherwise excellent book “One Second After”.)

Who am I to say all this? Electronics technician and engineer for almost 50 years, auto mechanic, aircraft mechanic, radar technician, and retired military (23 years) with specialized experience (wink, wink).


Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
August 8, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Hey Doug,

Thanks for your comments…especially in light of your history!

There’s two things that I need to take issue with and that is the comment about transformers and aluminum foil not working…here’s what I mean:

On aluminum foil, most Faraday cages are made of copper…sometimes simply copper mesh. Aluminum has 60% of the conductivity of copper, so it’s still a very good conductor. The electrical engineers that I’ve talked with about this have had two major reasons why they think that aluminum foil makes a good field expedient Faraday cage.

1. The amount of shielding needed for an EMP blast depends on the size of the EMP, the efficiency of the EMP (whether it was purpose built to be an EMP or a “normal” nuclear weapon detonated at high altitude), your distance from the EMP, AND atmospheric conditions. In other words, aluminum foil probably wouldn’t work if a purpose built EMP went off directly overhead, but it might work great if you were 1000 miles away from it, if it wasn’t a purpose built EMP, or if it was a small blast.

2. It’s a guess as to whether or not aluminum foil will work as a Faraday cage in an EMP attack. We just don’t have a large enough dataset. That being said, aluminum foil doesn’t cost much compared to full-on Faraday cages and still gives people a lot of potential bang for the buck. It’s a case where everyone can keep aluminum foil and wire on hand, but most people have more pressing things to spend money on than certified Faraday enclosures.

On the electrical transformers…the problem, as I understand it from the National Threat Assessment, is that power lines would act like a big anteanna for EMPs and overload the transformers. In essence, the pulse would hit a length of power line roughly simultaneously and then would be transmitted to the transformers almost instantly.

If you’ve got a different take on this, I’d love to know it. I’m more interested in the truth than one particular point of view.


Vote -1 Vote +1DougSter
August 11, 2010 at 3:14 pm


Sorry about my slow response. I’ve been learning and working on a new radar system and things have been very busy.

I wasn’t too terribly clear in my first comment. Some electrical transformers would probably survive a large EMP provided that they were low-ratio step-up or down transformers. You are correct that the higher voltage ones would be toast, along with virtually anything they were connected to. The voltage pulse induced into power lines would follow transmission lines into homes and businesses and enter various equipments via conduction. At the same time, the EMP wave would also enter devices via field induction – a double whammy. Many if not most plugged-in devices would be toast, but ironically, toasters would probably survive quite well. The good news is that most electrical transformers are pretty simple tech and could, if necessary, be repaired or re-fabricated with very modest machinery. The bad news is that modern machines used to build/repair transformers have electronic controls and require electrical power. Kind of a chicken or egg dilemma. Also, much of the electronic controls, and spares and parts to repair them, would be destroyed. Bottom line: electrical power would be out for a long time.

As for the aluminum foil, I would use it in several layers as a shield, but only until I had something better in place. There really wouldn’t be such a thing as an “expedient” shield since there would probably be zero warning before an EMP, and a shield would be unnecessary after. So, the idea is to prepare. I just wouldn’t be comfortable using foil to protect what may become some of the few still-working electronic devices in town. I would opt for a more substantial protective system like static-dissipative bags or wrap for each electronic device, and then those wrapped device packs wrapped in anti-static foam sheeting, and then placed in a surplus military steel ammo can, and the can either buried or in constant direct contact with earth (dirt). That way you would have substantial protection from both an induced pulse and static buildup. What to protect? A small multiband radio/scanner (I have an Icom R5), rechargeable batteries, battery charger, and means to power the charger (solar panel – yes, into the can), FRS radio sets, more batteries & charger, watches, etc.


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Kevin
August 13, 2010 at 11:49 am

Doug, thanks that is the one piece of info I’ve been looking for- how to build a practical EMP kit for one-second-after, on what you really need. Would you have time to suggest a couple ways or places to test that sort of a kit? I see fancy EMP tents and so forth, online, but I dont see any info on how well anything might work- is there a place, or is there a way to use tesla coil kits to actually test something like this, for example?

I wonder if having a spare ignition coil and the ballast resistor in that ammo can would give you the back up you needed. I am assuming what the mechanic-friend of actor Tom Cruise in the movie “War of the Worlds” was replacing was the starter, in the van Tom hijacked to drive his family out of the path of the aliens with the lightning weappons- a bit of dramatic license there, but to the point- its not clear what cars might be affected-

I recall a line from the National Geographic “Explorer” segment on EMP that cited as many as 10% of all cars on the road would be out-of-commission (shouldnt that be less than 10% will be driveable?)
but my guess is thats not the only thing that would have been fried in that later model van….that same show had engineers frying small circuit boards- I’d guess just about any fuel control, or computer “brain” for any car will be inoperative, if its within any distance of the field effect.

One thing is for sure, I dont have the time, money, or inclination to copper wire screen my garage..:) and to Davids point, it wont help much to drive if you dont have food to eat once you get there.




+1 Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
August 14, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Hey Doug,

Thanks again for your thoughtful and educated response. As far as the “field expedient” Faraday shield, I was too vague. Here’s what I meant:

1. It is an expedient sheild that anyone can rig up TODAY for critical items and keep in place long term.
2. If the EMP was in the form of a Coronal Mass Ejection, then we would have 17-90 hours advanced warning and people could put them into place.

If time and money were no object for all of my readers, I would agree 100% with you that aluminum foil should not be used. Reality tells us that time and money ARE concerns, and so even though aluminum foil isn’t ideal, it has to be brought up as a potential improvised solution.

Is foil perfect? No. But, again, it IS something that everyone can do immediately…probably without having to leave their house. With everything that I talk about, I try to give people immediately achievable steps that they can take as well as longer term steps that are more complete.

In this case, most people who are concerned about EMPs probably don’t have 1 year of food/water/medications & other supplies and I strongly believe that it’s more important to get these fundamental issues taken care of before going on to higher level preparedness like EMP shielding.

Again, aluminum foil & a ground wire can be done immediately. If they have ammo boxes that they can ground and bury, even better. At some point in the future when they can build copper cages and set up proper grounds then they can upgrade. In the meantime, grounded aluminum foil cages provide SOME protection.

Like you said, items would have to be unplugged and all wiring to be inside the sheilding to be fully protected.

Thanks again,



Vote -1 Vote +1Johne Martin
August 19, 2010 at 10:45 am

I need to know how to “correctly” ground my house using the 1/2″ copper rod. thanks, and will be in touch again.


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
August 20, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Hey Johne,

It’s not real simple…it depends on the composition of your soil in
terms of dirt, sand, clay, and rock, the mineral content of your soil,
the moisture level of your soil, the sensitivity of your equipment,
and how big of a pulse you need to disperse.

Your needs could range from a 4-6 foot, 1/2″ in diameter copper rod to
a 10 foot 1″ rod that goes down to a ball of copper that weighs
several tons.

In many cases, simply burying a metal ammo can 1-3 feet underground
will effectively protect smaller items.


Vote -1 Vote +1Wrongful Death Lawyer
August 27, 2010 at 11:13 pm

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Vote -1 Vote +1Pat H
August 31, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Just read this on Yahoo:

Massive solar storm to hit Earth in 2012 with ‘force of 100m bombs’

Massive solar storm to hit Earth in 2012 with ‘force of 100m bombs’ –>
Thu, Aug 26 12:50 PM
Melbourne, Aug 26 (ANI):

Astronomers are predicting that a massive solar storm, much bigger in
potential than the one that caused spectacular light shows on Earth
earlier this month, is to strike our planet in 2012 with a force of 100
million hydrogen bombs.
Several US media outlets have reported that NASA was warning the
massive flare this month was just a precursor to a massive solar storm
building that had the potential to wipe out the entire planet’s power
Despite its rebuttal, NASA’s been watching out for this storm since
2006 and reports from the US this week claim the storms could hit on
that most Hollywood of disaster dates – 2012.
Similar storms back in 1859 and 1921 caused worldwide chaos, wiping
out telegraph wires on a massive scale. The 2012 storm has the
potential to be even more disruptive.
“The general consensus among general astronomers (and certainly
solar astronomers) is that this coming Solar maximum (2012 but possibly
later into 2013) will be the most violent in 100 years,” News.com.au
quoted astronomy lecturer and columnist Dave Reneke as saying.
“A bold statement and one taken seriously by those it will affect
most, namely airline companies, communications companies and anyone
working with modern GPS systems.
“They can even trip circuit breakers and knock out orbiting
satellites, as has already been done this year,” added Reneke.
No one really knows what effect the 2012-2013 Solar Max will have on
today’s digital-reliant society.
Dr Richard Fisher, director of NASA’s Heliophysics division, told
Reneke the super storm would hit like “a bolt of lightning”, causing
catastrophic consequences for the world’s health, emergency services
and national security unless precautions are taken.
NASA said that a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences
found that if a similar storm occurred today, it could cause “1 to 2
trillion dollars in damages to society’s high-tech infrastructure and
require four to 10 years for complete recovery”.
The reason for the concern comes as the sun enters a phase known as
Solar Cycle 24.
Most experts agree, although those who put the date of Solar Max in
2012 are getting the most press.
They claim satellites will be aged by 50 years, rendering GPS even
more useless than ever, and the blast will have the equivalent energy
of 100 million hydrogen bombs.
“We know it is coming but we don’t know how bad it is going to be,”
Fisher told Reneke.
“Systems will just not work. The flares change the magnetic field on
the Earth and it’s rapid, just like a lightning bolt. That’s the solar
effect,” he added.
The findings are published in the most recent issue of Australasian
Science. (ANI)


Vote -1 Vote +1Suzanne Patterson
November 21, 2010 at 5:32 pm

I spend 3 days a week 35 miles from my home. My biggest fear is that an emp or cme will render my car inoperable. Even with a back pack filled with supplies getting home (where all of my food, water, etc. are) on foot is a daunting prospect for me because of medical issues. Is there a practical way to shield just those components that are vulnerable in an auto instead of placing the whole car in a Farrady tent?


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