The Timing of an EMP Strike

Author’s Note: Before reading this article, I want to be perfectly clear that my objective is not to “freak you out.” Mental Preparedness comes more readily when we allow ourselves to mentally picture scenarios and then allow our brain to strategically work on solving the anticipated problems. I hope this article does that for you today.

EMPThere’s no such thing as an opportune time for a trial, right? As such, it’s a bit naïve of us to think that if an EMP strike does hit, it will conveniently

do so while we are gathered all comfy and cozy in our homes. If I was a nefarious terrorist, I would plan an EMP strike for a freezing snowy winter day affecting most of the country AND during a late time of day that would most affect rush hour. To add to that timing, I would plan it to occur while Congress was out of session for the Christmas break. That would be a true formula for chaos.

Our autos and other modes of transportation will be the most noticeable initial casualty as the result of an EMP strike. Just think what would happen if you were commuting home on the freeway and all of the sudden your vehicle, as well as all of the other cars around you, had all of their electronics stop functioning. The power steering would go out. The power brakes would go out. And like a synchronized swimming team, all of the autos that were made after 1970 would simple stop operating. Sure they might travel another few feet—until they slammed into another car that suddenly stopped operating. Imagine this scene on your jam packed freeway on the way home from work or while running errands. Now picture that scene duplicated throughout thousands upon thousands of bustling cities throughout the country.

EMPKeeping in line with the disruption of transportation, planes will fall from the sky as their electronics completely fail them. At any given time there are well over 5,000 non-military airplanes over the air space of the U.S. Boeing estimates that one of their 737’s take off or land every 4.9 seconds, although that’s for the world, not just the U.S. Boeing states that they have over 1.5 million planes in the air at all times of the day. Even without that, picture being one of the casualties stranded in the O’Hare or JFK Airport with no lights, no food, and no way to get out of town to your family.

The second part of this impact will be painfully felt in our modes of communication. Your cell phone will be completely useless for anything other than a paper weight. Your car radio will not function or provide you with any information to figure out what went wrong. Regardless of the abundance of injuries that will take place all over the nation, no ambulance, tow truck or life flight will be available to heed your call for help.

The third largest impact that you will notice is in the availability, or rather LACK of available medical care. If you can hobble your way to a hospital from the site of the freeway catastrophe, you will inevitably find the facilities in chaos, overflowing with panicked patients and medical personnel. Their backup generators will be useless in most cases as they typically operate with some electronics. The medical supplies such as bandages and medicine will be exhausted within a couple of hours, not to mention the medical staff. Can you imagine being in the middle of a life-saving surgery and suddenly have the power go off without even so much as a warning beep?

How to be prepared for an EMP

So, what do you do to be prepared? First of all, have your auto supplied with preparedness tools: first aid, water, coat, some food, etc. Be sure that you have a reliable pair of shoes—especially you ladies. Heels are great for partying in, but they make it pretty darn hard to hike in the snow 15 miles should a survival scenario come up. In addition to the obvious tools in your car, you MUST be prepared to defend yourself as well. Violence and desperation will reign supreme in such an environment. There’s no need to be a sitting duck, folks. Act quickly and decisively. When you’ve lost access to communication or news and your cars have suddenly stopped, you will KNOW it’s an EMP folks. Don’t wait around to deliberate with fellow travelers. Get to where you need to be ASAP.

Have a prearranged plan with your loved ones of where to meet in the event of trouble. At least this way your spouse or family and friends will have some peace of mind knowing that you will try to get to that location. Panic is not your friend in an emergency. Peace of mind is, even if it’s challenged by some “what if” scenarios.

Maintaining physical strength isn’t about being able to run a marathon for most people. But everyone’s physical strength will be tested in an EMP scenario. The simple act of getting a glass of water will require work. Flour for a loaf of bread will require arm muscles. Going to the bathroom will require full consciousness. :) That may not daunt some of you, but keep in mind that you may need to cover longer distances than between your house and the outhouse. Thus having working bikes and wagons you can tow on them may be a lifesaver.

EMPEMP Effects

Familiarizing yourself with basic medical care such as breaks, sprains, deep cuts, rashes, colds, and flu will also be important. While an EMP won’t send us back to the 19th century in all regards, it certainly would in terms of medical care. We need to take some of the responsibility for self-reliance in this area.

Again, I hope I’ve given you just a few things to think about today. I also really liked how the books “Alas, Babylon” by Pat Frank, and “One Second After” by William Fortschen helped me through some mental preparedness in this exact type of scenario. If you allow your mind to think about and mentally participate in such scenarios, you’ll have a more sound Mental Preparedness to solve the problems in comfort now, rather than in chaos later.


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I ran an EMP scenario through my head about 3 weeks ago while sitting in the market parking lot. The car was locked and windows up, also no gun on me at the time. I had my BOB but how do you get out of a locked car? I do keep a windsheild breaking hammer in the glove box. That solves getting out of the car. It's 5 miles home and I have painful arthritic knees. Best I look around the lot for a pre 1970 truck and steal it if I can. Don't know how to hotwire though.
Since then I never leave home without 2 pistols and spare mags. My neighbor mechanic showed me how to hot wire. I have added more items to BOB in case I have to walk (pain meds).Still need to ad a lighter weight back pack to put less in out of BOB as my BOB is too heavy to carry 5 miles. I'll do that today.
Thanks for the post and reminder to continue running what if's.

Preparedness Pro's picture

Personally, I'd save the hot wiring skills for a while after an EMP strike. I would hate to be resonsible for abscounding the mode of transportation someone else is rightfully relying on. I agree that hot wire skills are also a good component for the Mental preparedness category.

Thank you for these posts. I HATE THEM! Not really, I just think about this kind of scenerio where ever I go. Which is good. I have One second after checked out from the library ready to read. I finished Alas Babaylon a few months ago, after which I went immediately out and bought another big bucket of salt! :) I love preparedness pro.

Preparedness Pro's picture

Funny, it had the same effect on me. I also stocked up on some Mason jars, sewing needs, and a few other items. :-)

What is all the salt for?
Will try and find the book!

Ok, I have to ask. If you are in the car and it is locked, don't you just open the door?

Do you all remember go peds? they were little scooters with motors on the back wheel, how would something like that work? They are simple two stroke engines. I wonder if they would be effected or not.

Preparedness Pro's picture

I was kind of wondering the same thing. Have you ever heard that recording of the "blonde" who called On Star because she was "stuck" in her car and needed the doors unlocked? LOL

Among the "must read" books is Lucifers Hammer.Todd,the small engine would run,if it had points instead of electronic ignition.

What resources do you recommend for learning more about first aid? This was a thought for me when they started talking about Health Care reform, but the more I think about it, the more I'm impressed upon to learn. I'm not near you so I can't take your classes. :( I love your blog, though!

Preparedness Pro's picture

Jaime, I'm glad love the site.
I would recommend checking on CRT and CPR training to start with in your area. I also recommend the book "When There is No Doctor" You can get it used even on Amazon.

Your local Red Cross Chapter is a great resource for First Aid Training. The website address is There is a fee for their classes, however, I have found them to be very informative and well worth the money.
C.E.R.T. training is also good for disaster situations, and includes basic medical instruction.

I bought more salt too after reading Alas Babylon. How funny is that????

I have read Lucifer's Hammer but haven't met anyone else who has. Glad that Fred has. Great ideas in that book. Will have to get Alas Babylon. We can't be prepared in everything but knowing we have done the best we can in several areas will help us. Strengthening our testimony will help us stay calm when it all hits the fan so we do not become a part of the panic. Unfortunately, our country is in one of the scriptural cycles. The people are slow to remember their God and it will come back to bite us. Love the site and comments.

When the electronic locks(in my car) are locked, you can't open the door, inside or out. But thanks for the mocking:( I am not blonde nor)... ..never mind. I'll just read and not comment in the future. I appreciate all of the information that you are sharing.

Preparedness Pro's picture

No offense was intended whatsoever, I promise. Sorry if it came across that way.

@Gail: There is not a car in the U.S. market whose doors cannot be opened from the inside without power.


You keep our adrealene going...I love it. Five out of eight of our children will be home for Christmas. We are reading and discussing your articles on finanical prepardness, family meeting points and EMP, etc. Some of the kids (most adults now) are exciting about making family plans.

Thanks for the thought provoking and prepardness proding articles.

Keep them coming!

Would an ATV, and or motorcycle be safe in a Faraday cage?
Both of mine have electronics.
Thank you.

Preparedness Pro's picture

That would be a viable use for a Faraday cage. But you still have the fuel storage to consider as well. So it may be ideal for short- term solutions, but not so much long-term.

Kellene - Thanks so much for this site! Excellent - I have recommended you to F & F. I just finished the book "THe Unthinkable - Who survives when Disaster Strikes ~ and Why". I recommend it - not as a tactical preparedness book, but a strategic one. THe book explores our reactions in extreme situations, and offers help for improving our responses. No matter how many 'scenarios' we might run, our brains know it isn't the real deal - how can we help our most important resource when it is? Keep up the great work! P.S. (I read "Alas' in h.s. and since starting my preparedness, have bought a lot of salt! Is there a Survivor'sSalt Club in my future?)

Preparedness Pro's picture

I'm thinking we need to start one. Ha Ha!

Good thoughts, and agree with most points, however find it hard to believe that terrorists could completly coordinate with a major snow storm during holiday break of congress. Weather patterns can't be predicted that far in advance, and certainly pulling off something as significant as this I believe would take immense coordination and could not be done at the last minute.

Preparedness Pro's picture

Christine, Just as an exercise in potential futility, I checked the Farmers Almanac on the most recent storm Utah just had. It's was properly calculated. Of course, that's not to say that you aren't correct. That's why it was just "what if" scenario. :-)

Great 2-part article – thank you very much! The issue of an EMP strike is not an “extremist conspiracy theory”. It is a VERY real threat; as evidenced by warnings from prominent politicians and congressional/governmental bodies (Congressional EMP Commission, Strategic Posture commission, National Academy of Sciences). All warnings have been, to date, largely ignored by congress… High-altitude nuclear detonations are the ultimate EMP strike, but there’s also the danger of “suitcase EMPs”. A device that will emit an EMP can be built very cheaply and will fit inside a suitcase (Dr Dave McIntyre, Director, Integrative Center for Homeland Security,15 May 2008). Obviously, the resulting impact is far, far less than a nuclear detonation; but picture several of these going off in key areas of a major city or, heaven forbid, aboard a passenger jet. When I leave home in my vehicle, I always assume I may be walking home. A preacher once told me that “People say they believe, but don’t back up their words. If I said there’s a bomb under each pew ready to go off, it was be easy to see who really believed. They’d be the ones that got up and ran”. If you believe that EMP threat is real, please heed the excellent advice throughout Preparedness Pro and prepare the best you can. I applaud Kellene’s point that we must assume the timing of any such event would catch us away from home. Always have ample food, water, shoes and clothing proper for the season, and self-defense items of your choosing (don’t bring a knife to a gun fight…) to make it home. I also keep a map of my area in my bag at all times, with 4 routes marked to make it from work to home. My vehicle bag is a 72-hour bag intended to get me home (3-day max), not a true Bug-Out-Bag, which would be much heavier and impede my “hasty” trek home. (Any thoughts as to whether that is a good/bad idea?) The heavier BOB comes along if I’m traveling further out of town. Remember, if you have to abandon your vehicle, anything you can’t carry is lost. That’s why I've stopped keeping my truck loaded to the gills with survival items. The threat of EMP has had one positive effect on my life: I’m in better shape than I was! I always take the stairs unless forced to take an elevator. In the ensuing chaos, I wonder if building maintenance/security would think to check each elevator? Am I weird or does the EMP threat make anyone else more nervous of elevators…? Thank you again Kellene!

Mine was Coffee, after "Alas Babylon". But I already had a good supply of Salt.
I am trying to get non-powered Items. My Mom and I are always trying to find 19th Century Tech at yard sales and discount stores. I have found a lot of uses for food-grade mineral oil besides the eggs. I did a 3 month test on the eggs it works great except it seems you have to be real careful with the yolks. They break much more easily. But no smell, and no sickness from them. I was so excited, eggs have to be one of best and cheap sources of protein.
Medical care ideas SAS Survival Book. It does cover a lot of things plus it also has a lot on herbal/plant remedies.
I think the best Item to get for EMP is an "Adult Trike" I hope to get one next year. But a bike and a child trailer would be a good compromise. We have a couple of ole boys here that go to yard sales and travel around town, going camping, shopping and all kinds of stuff. It was fun to talk to them and all they do just biking around.
I haven't seen you do much on smoking, salting or cured meats. That was one thing on Alas Babylon I wish had been covered more. During the "steak party" I kept thinking of all the jerky they could have made. LOL

Does an EMP destroy the electronics of a device if there is no power at all going to the device??? Just wondering...I had not seen that addressed.

Yes, an EMP can destroy a device that is not powered up - and even not plugged in. It will even destroy surge supressors. You can construct a Faraday Cage (instructions available on internet) to protect electronics.

Can I just say WOW! I just finished One Second After and, well I'm speechless. If this happens to us it will be horrible. I find a lot of comfort in being prepared, but it makes me so sad to consider the suffering that will occur in this type of situation. HOW do we get people to prepare now, while they can?! I recommend this book to everyone. Its not for the faint of heart, even though they may be the ones to benefit the most by reading it and becoming aware. I will be making my hubby read it over Christmas break, thankfully he is NOT faint of heart. :)

I think you mean 1.5 million passengers, not planes. The company has nearly 12,000 commercial jetliners in service worldwide, which is roughly 75 percent of the world fleet. However, over 3 million passengers board their planes everyday.

Thank you Kellene, for fast answer to my Question and the link to the Information site. Many greetings from Germany

Hi, my name is Oliver Rebuschat and I'm from Germany. My cousin Cindy, she lives in Chattanooga Tennessee, gave me the link to your site and I am so happy that there are people who think the same way as I do, but here in Germany everybody thinks, that something like an EMP would never happen in Germany!?
What fool's they are, it could happen anytime, anywhere that's the way I think of it (but silently I hope it will never happen, but who knows, so it is, I think, the best to be prepared!?)
And now here is my question: I read Luzifers Hammer in German, but I could not get Alas, Babylon in German so I don't know what it has to do with the SALT? What is the salt good for, I know that my question sound funny, but I would be very thankful if someone of your community could explain it to me.
I wish you all a very nice Weekend your friend Oliver Rebuschat from Germany
P.S. you can find me on Facebook if you want


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