US Grid “Not Hardened Against EMP Attack”: How Does This Affect You?

Could an EMP attack destroy our technology

An EMP attack “would send us back to the 18th Century” – Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich.

An EMP attack (electromagnetic pulse) is a scary power in the hands of unpredictable North Korea as it boasts to launch its missiles at the US and Japan. But while a nuclear attack would require precision and advanced technology, an EMP attack would be much easier and would “damage or disable electrical devices for hundreds of miles on the ground below”.

The US electrical grid is not ready for an EMP attack

These are comments made by Newt Gingrich when he delivered his report to Senate Committee on Energy and Resources in May (viewable here).

You must be thinking America will be ready for that, especially with the foreseeable risk of North Korea using a weapon with an EMP blast? No, it is not ready. Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula said that there are holes in the system’s grid that are not protected from EMP effects.

“EMP hardening is very expensive, and in the world of the last 25 years of putting reducing costs as a priority over full spectrum operational capability, it has not been a high priority.” – The National Interest

Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments senior Bryan Clark, had more dire news.

“Most of our systems are not hardened against EMP. Some older analog or Cold War-era systems are.”

For those of you who might be a little bit left behind, an EMP is the burst of radiation that is emitted when a nuclear weapon is detonated in the atmosphere. Sure, there is no actual blast or shockwave felt on earth, but the EMP wave still travels and affects power and electricity.

Here is a retired Navy SEAL’s point of view on an EMP attack by North Korea:

What an EMP attack would cause

Gingrich said the US could be possibly “caught in the dark“. His description was enough to warrant concern. He said if an EMP attack was to occur the blackout could encompass entire regions and “could take months to years to repair”. He listed some other subsequent effects of an EMP attack which were:

  • Non-perishable foods would spoil from lack of refrigeration
  • Hospitals would run out of life-saving, temperature-controlled medications within days
  • Dialysis and other medical devices would stop working
  • Water systems that rely on electricity would stop pumping water and pipes would burst from the weight and pressure

For emergency services, this would be a nightmare as their communications run on an exposed grid. Mobile phones, police and military networks would be without communication and all digital currency payment systems would be unable to work.

That and any vehicle with an electrical system is gone.

Basically, an EMP is a SHTF event.

How an EMP attack would occur

The leader of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, Peter Vincent Pry, said North Korea imposed two threats, being nuclear and EMP. He said that EMP would require much less precision and less advanced technology. According to Pry:

EMP attack

A successful nuclear strike on US soil requires:

  • High precision
  • Advanced missile technology

An EMP attack requires:

  • Detonating a nuclear weapon at high-altitude, above the atmosphere

For North Korea, who have less advanced missile technology, the EMP attack is much easier to commit.

How far an EMP attack could reach

According to Pry, the impact and reachable area of an EMP wave is immense. If a warhead was detonated at an altitude of 18 miles, it would generate an EMP field on the ground with a radius of 372 miles.

If an EMP attack was to be triggered at an altitude of 294 miles it would cover most of the US.

The distance an EMP attack can get to

How far an EMP will reach dependant upon the height of detonation.

How you stop the effect of an EMP attack

While large networks, wifi fields, and electric networks would be effected by an EMP there are innovations that have been made to protect electrical items from an EMP attack.

Researchers from the University of Nebraska developed EMP proof concrete that is being used by a number of government and military buildings. However this may not help your personal goods as the concrete is still in limited use.

For personal devices and items, you can build a Faraday Cage. The idea itself came from an English scientist in 1836 as a way to do exactly what you are after, block electromagnetic fields. A faraday shield is anything covered with a conductive material. You can construct this to whatever size fits your purpose, however, most people only make something big enough to fit their personal devices.

I made mine using a locking lid thick trash can. You can find one of these on Amazon quite easily. This Behrens Trash Can has made tens of thousands of sales specifically because it serves a purpose as the important tool in a faraday EMP resistant bin, even without being marketed as one.

To make one yourself all you need is:

  • A trash can with a locking lid (Most people are picking up the Behrens 10-gallon one that I mentioned above)
  • Carpet or thick cardboard to line the insides ( as well as the bottom and lid) of the trash can
  • Tape to keep the lining in place (duct tape should be used here)

Here’s a video from a prepper on how he made his:


Another item you can use for personal electrics is by Faraday Defense which is a company that specializes in creating military-grade EMP proof containers for electrical items. They have some very viable options if you are after something reliable. Their flagship faraday item is a bag made of a double layer aluminum metal with multiple layers of electro-shielding which is in different sizes for laptops, radios, and phones.

If you are packing a survival kit or emergency go-to kit Faraday Defence also has an EMP resistant duffel bag which is in use by law enforcement first responders.

With the risk of an EMP attack by North Korea, these are relevant precautions that you should be taking to ensure your electrical products are not damaged. For those living off-the-grid this also involves solar battery chargers and converters as they will also be affected.

In the case of a nuclear attack which could cause an EMP, you should ensure you take the proper safety precautions in choosing the right protective equipment to survive a nuclear, chemical or biological fallout, and if you do not yet have an emergency supply of food, water, medicine and disaster supplies you should be looking at how to build an affordable and necessary emergency supply.

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  1. Pingback: How To Make A Faraday Cage: DIY Protection For Devices Against EMP | VikingLifeBlog

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