Trains, buses, subway systems and commercial airlines and other modern planes will cease to work also -- even the 4,000 or so commercial flights (think Delta, U.S. Airways, Southwest Airlines, and many others) that are in the sky over America at any given time.
Our electricity driven society, built on a complex web of intersecting wires and computer circuits, will suddenly come to a standstill.
All Hell will probably break loose shortly after.
Imagine the world suddenly without TV, radio, phone, internet, refrigeration, microwaves, stoves and ovens, washers and dryers, waste removal, sewage treatment facilities, clean water from the tap (provided by water companies that use industrial equipment to treat water; even water that at a previous time may have been sewage) making it safe to drink; gas companies who provide heat and power gone; or of course the electric company.
Imagine each going offline -- permanently.
Imagine the U.S. unable to transport food from farmland in distant states and counties -- meat, dairy, eggs, produce, grain products, packaged food.
300,000 million people (the population of the United States) will quickly descend on the packaged food left on store shelves in the initial hours of the realization that an EMP had taken place.
Many will hoard -- meaning, get there hands on as much packaged food as possible and then fight tooth and nail to keep it out of the hands of others who may experience panic when they see store shelves emptying and realize they don't have more than a few days of food at home. They realize now they're in trouble. Food is disappearing fast. Everyone is taking it.
Too bad those unprepared for disaster didn't see the signs that America (and other Western nations) are increasingly hated by nations in the world -- nations with the desire and growing means to bring our nation (and possibly other Western nations) to collapse.
There will be additional panic that will become widespread across the states -- a concern that grocery stores are shutting down permanently, due to the EMP.
If that's not bad enough, all foods requiring refrigeration will start going bad within just a few hours. A fully stocked refrigerator and freezer will have to be eaten in a very short time frame (frozen meats could be thawed and then smoked using emergency methods for long term food storage, so not all is lost for people who have taken the time to learn how to smoke and preserve meat -- we've covered this in another article).
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Nursing homes and hospitals will lose power instantly also -- the elderly, sick, and those requiring medical equipment to simply stay alive will be in immediate trouble. Within minutes and hours people will start dying -- within days many of these people requiring medical devices to live will be dead.
Many other Americans will be in trouble also -- especially those due for refills of important medication they rely on to live; this includes diabetics (which there are a lot of nowadays) who have to store their insulin medication under refrigeration as it goes bad quickly when not kept at a constant, cool temperature. Many diabetics will die as a result of the EMP.
But the biggest initial death toll from an EMP isn't going to come from the sick and elderly -- it's going to come from the skies overhead.
Remember the approximately 4,000 commercial flights in the sky over America at any given time? When the EMP strikes, their on-board computers and electrical components are going to be fried, just like computers and electrical components down on the ground. And when that happens a few thousand commercial jets with 250,000 - 500,000 people on board (when you total the number of flights in the sky at any given time) are going to be on a collision course with disaster, their on-board computers and navigation now dead, zero power.
It's extremely difficult to pilot a jet with zero power and bring it in for an emergency landing -- some might say it's impossible. This isn't a matter of an engine failing and then the pilot getting on the radio and being guided to a nearby airstrip. No, it won't be like a traditional emergency landing.
While many of these flights will be over rural country and mountains when they start to come down from the sky, many others will be in the vicinity of large cities and urban areas. Imagine the horrible sound of a full size commercial jet coming in for a hard and fast attempted landing -- in most cases resulting in the destruction of the jet as it strikes a neighborhood or industrial area or shopping district or hopefully in most cases, farm land.
Commercial jets do have a fair glide time -- meaning that even if the engines lose total power a plane at 10,000 feet elevation is said to be able to glide right in to an airport like LAX 32 miles distant.
A major problem jets will have though -- without on board computers -- is maneuvering -- especially when the stick (called a control yoke) that they steer the plane with isn't actually connected to the tail or wing flaps -- it's connected to a computer that sends signals to the tail and wing flaps of the plane as the stick is maneuvered. This is a jumbo jet, remember. With no on board computers, that stick becomes useless when there is absolutely no power to send signals to the wings and back of the plane.
The threat of losing power in a jumbo jet exists today, without an EMP -- but because there are so many battery back up systems and generators on board, if one system goes down, another goes online. That is why we don't see commercial jets crashing from time to time due to electrical failure. They are built to always have multiple sources of back up power.
An EMP will fry all chances of any back up power.
Flights overhead -- perhaps a flight you'll be on with your family -- will be dead in the air and begin falling from the sky, counting on glide time, prayers to God, and with luck or God's deliverance, a convenient place to bring the plane down, hopefully in one piece.
William Forstchen writes on his website, OneSecondAfter.com: "EMP, has managed to 'stealth' its way on to the highly dangerous list and few, except for a small number of personnel in the Pentagon, various research labs, and men like Congressman Bartlett (R., MD) who heads the Congressional Investigative Committee on EMP, are aware of it."
Ultimately -- this isn't a far fetched scenario, unfortunately. If it were far-fetched the U.S. government would not have created a commission to address the threat -- and evolving threat -- of an EMP. See: EMPCommission.org EMP Commission website.
The only problem with these emergency landings will be that if it's at night, there won't be any lights on the ground to signify cities vs rural country side; nor will there be lights on the ground to signify local airstrips.
If the EMP happens during daylight, at least the pilots have a chance of eyeing what's on the ground as they come down. If the control yoke is useless for steering, I'm not sure what chance at all they have of the jet being directed toward a relatively flat area to land. If this thing comes down on anything other than concrete, most likely everything on the bottom of the plane -- landing gears, wheels -- are going to be torn off as the plane sinks into the soil. Will the force of that kind of impact cause the plane to break up?
Left to chance, my guess is that the majority of those 4,000 approximate flights in the sky when an EMP takes place are going to end in disasters. A few are likely to make it out ok though.
The chances of being trapped in an elevator increase if you work in a downtown skyscraper or other building and regularly take elevators; you need to consider that if the EMP occurs while you're in that elevator, you're going to be stuck, for hours and possibly days; you might want to learn in advance what it takes to get out of an elevator when the power goes down for good.
First tip: Talk to your building management -- make sure they have a plan for immediately rescuing people from stuck elevators in the event of a blackout. They need to be concerned about the well-being of people who may be trapped inside. Keep in mind that they won't be able to simply call a maintenance man to come to the building to rescue tenants trapped inside. If that building's maintenance man lives 20 miles away and his car doesn't work, how is he going to get to the building?
Besides, his phone isn't going to work, so he can't simply be called on the phone. Finally, the last thing on his mind might be his job that he doesn't care too much for anyway -- in fact right now he might be a lot more worried about his children or parents who live thirty miles or so in the opposite direction of that building where he works as a maintenance man.
What does that mean for people stuck inside an elevator in a downtown high rise or other building? They're going to have to figure out a way to get out, and also hope that other people who live or work in the building will also care to take the time to help get them free. Escaping a trapped elevator may involve a few people.
Not only is the elevator trapped between floors, the elevator (and much of the building) may be in total darkness.
Theory goes that small devices with small components not connected to larger devices should be fine in an EMP; the reason these should be fine is that the "pulse" that fries components is picked up by devices with longer wiring that then acts as an "antennae", picking up the pulse as it goes out from the initial nuclear blast; small devices with small circuits and wires won't pick up enough pulse, as statements I've read indicate. They should be ok.
Even better than a penlight, would be a larger flashlight with a lantern feature, kept in your purse or brief case for an emergency light source.
Consider a smaller, portable Faraday Cage like these military grade bags at the link above sold by "Faraday Defense for EMP," which you can use for a backup cellphone you can invest in also. In a worst case scenario, or just a bit of bad luck, if you find yourself stuck in an elevator when the lights go out you might be able to call out for help; no guarantees though -- local cell phone networks may have lost power also; in that case this is exactly when a two-way radio can be a life-saver, but will it work in an elevator?
Be sure to test that two-way radio from the elevator you ride before you go relying on it in the event of an EMP; even if it doesn't work very well in an elevator, you can still use that two-way radio (Uniden GMR5088 has a 50 mile range in optimal terrain and even floats if dropped in water) to reconnect with family a few miles out once you do get out of the elevator -- more on this below also.)
If there's no maintenance man around, rescuers (who know you're inside) can also look for the fire department; fire departments are trained in elevator rescue. One unfortunate aspect of an EMP though (or other major disaster that knocks out power) is that the local fire department might be spread thin and already responding to multiple other emergencies in distant parts of the city.
To get people out of stuck elevators after an EMP, other people (who are aware of people trapped inside stuck elevators) will have to search far and wide for the fire department. See: Storm Caused Power Outage Traps Girl Inside Elevator
Some of these buildings may become dangerous to be in after a few days of the power being out, due to stagnant air. Rooms will need to be ventilated by hand shortly after an EMP -- meaning, a window in each room broken if need be or holes made through walls.
Last tip for people who take a daily elevator to work or home -- along with that small flashlight (and extra batteries), carry some bottled water and a bit of food. I'd throw a Bible in there also. Here's why: If you live or work in a high-rise downtown in a city experiencing a disaster or terrorist attack -- no help may come for you in time.
Not if fire departments are overwhelmed elsewhere in the city, perhaps a secondary terrorist attack has taken place -- or perhaps massive fires have erupted following a jet falling from the sky or 15 separate pile ups of 100 or so vehicles in each crash.
You might be on your own here -- stuck in a pitch black elevator in the heat of summer with no one to come to your rescue; you're going to need God or an angel to bail you out of this one.
One more thing while you're stuck inside that elevator: Hold on to the hope that this is just a temporary power outage -- and not an EMP.
(If you take a daily elevator in a high rise downtown I'd suggest you find out what those special tools are for the hatch in the type of elevator you ride and you start carrying them -- just in case.)
Also -- don't ride that elevator alone -- you may have a hard time reaching the hatch, without someone else to give you a boost up, even if you do have tools to open it.
Be sure to pull the "STOP" button in the elevator before you climb out through the top. That way the elevator doesn't start moving again if the power comes on.
Once in the elevator shaft you also risk electrocution (depending on the wiring for the building) if the power comes back on.
Some elevator shafts have no way to escape. Once in an elevator shaft though your cries for help might be heard easier -- perhaps a few people with sledge hammers and manual concrete breaking tools can chip their way through the elevator shaft and get you out that way -- though the best way to get to an elevator will likely be to break through doors in a floor above the elevator and drop rope down (headlamps would be a handy tool to have to provide light); rescuers could then climb down the rope to the top of the elevator and break open any service hatch -- unless it opened from the top.
If an EMP occurs during day or early evening hours, we can expect tens of thousands of people across the U.S. to be stuck in elevators in thousands of cities.
If you live near buildings with elevators, consider rounding up a number of people to do a search for anyone who may be stuck in an elevator.
Nursing homes with elderly patients requiring critical care (machines and scheduled medication) and also hospice are likely to become a disaster also. These will be some of the first people to die across the nation -- after all those flights from the skies come down to earth and initial car wrecks take place.
When electricity fails at a nuclear power plant backup generators come online to keep everything operating safely. But like a commercial airplane these backup generators will end up fried in an EMP, as everything is wired to everything else, and it's this wiring that allows an electro-magnetic pulse to do so much damage to so many systems.
With the power failure and fried generators, we now have a nuclear meltdown on our hands. In the coming days high levels of radiation will soar into the air, dusting the land and lakes and streams and any people for miles around -- especially those people downwind of a nuclear power plant.
Do you live nearby any nuclear power plants? Do you have plans to "bug out" in the event of a disaster to a remote location? You might want to study prevailing winds first, and look to see where in relation the nearest power plants are to those prevailing winds so that you can predict what direction radiation will be carried and how far. Compare this path to where you live and also to where you plan to flee to in the event of disaster.
At 60 MPH freeway tunnels filled with traffic that is suddenly in the dark could immediately end in crashes where cars, trucks, semis, and buses pile up, one on top of the other -- glass breaking, metal and fiberglass colliding violently -- sheer devastation.
Think about that the next time you're driving through a long tunnel that is lit by traffic and overhead lights.
Good news in this? It's very possible that gas that spills on the roadway from crashed vehicles won't ignite from sparking vehicle wiring -- unless sparks are created from metal grinding on the concrete. That might ignite a fire ball that turns that tunnel into an instant furnace.
Some reports indicate that it's likely that not all vehicles will be effected by an EMP. These reports say that many will lose power and that some will not. They back these claims off of reported tests that have taken place.
If you do want to run the risk of owning a running vehicle -- and if you're a mechanic -- you can disassemble electrical parts to things like an ATV or motorcycle and then store these electrical components in a device known as a Faraday Cage (more on that below) -- which is a "do it yourself" metal box that can be used to protect small electronic devices from the effects of an EMP.
This is reported to be a way to get older vehicles (early 60s for example and before) operating after an EMP has taken place. You may not be able to get a newer car back on the road -- due to the sophistication and number of electrical components needing to be replaced -- however an older vehicle with a lot less electrical related parts could get back on the road.
You just need to make sure you have those electrical parts on hand and the ability to replace these parts.
As part of your preps for an EMP, buy yourself an old car or truck that runs and then remove key electrical components; store these components in a safe place.
Which brings us to:
As reported in a previous article on our site on Doomsday Preppers prepping for an EMP, there are steps a person can take to protect electrical devices at home -- that is to build (or purchase) a metal box called a Faraday Cage.
What is said to happen is that the metal box protects items inside from an electromagnetic pulse -- causing the pulse to flow around the box and unable to reach electrical devices inside (as long as they are wrapped in a non-conductive material).
Electrical devices placed inside a Faraday Cage could be an emergency AM/FM radio, two-way radios, solar battery charger, small generator, emergency medical equipment, inverters, and a laptop or external hard-drive (should either have important documents or ebook downloads you want to hold onto and not lose).
Wrap each device you want to protect in plastic, newspaper, cardboard or other non-conducting material and place inside.
While you can build a Faraday Cage from scrap metal, you can also use things like metal filing cabinets, metal safes (like a gun safe), and even ammunition boxes. Building a copper mesh around each box adds another layer of EMP protection to your contents inside. A metal tool box would also work well. In fact you could have a tool box (wrapped with plastic or cardboard) with electronic devices inside (each wrapped with plastic or cardboard); this small tool box could then be kept inside a second larger tool box -- now you have multiple layers of protection from an EMP.
Other electrical devices to protect:
* Solar battery charger
* Small generator
* Emergency medical equipment (if you or a loved one require it)
* External hard drive
* Emergency AM/FM radio
* Extra batteries for operating each device for several weeks or months.
* Watches with hour / minute hands (being able to keep track of time can be an important survival tool; your ability to coordinate meeting times and locations with others after splitting up into different groups will likely call for precise time keeping in certain situations -- don't forget the importance of a watch -- I should say "watches". You'll want more than one watch for different people in your party).
But is there a way for you to have communications, even after an EMP?
Possibly. Using a Faraday Cage and a few stored batteries kept charged for emergencies, you may be able to reconnect with loved ones using a series of two way radios or Ham radio / CB (CBs have a much shorter range though than two way radios; though it may not hurt to have both, if you have that capability).
Related Articles: Communications After an EMP: Two Way Radios - Following An EMP, telephones, cell phones, and the internet will be a thing of the past. Two way radios will be a valuable too and can keep you in communication with family and friends. Learn how to protect your two way radios from the effects of an EMP as well as a communications "system" for re-connecting with loved ones.
EMP Protection: "Weird" Faraday Cage Fits in Your Bug Out Bag