What was once derided as wild speculation has now been confirmed as a very real national security threat: that of an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) attack.
To date, the U.S. power grid remains largely unprotected from the threat of an EMP bomb. Another threat is an EMP due to abnormal solar activity. Such an event could also inflict significant damage on our nation’s electrical infrastructure.
Lloyd’s of London, one of the world’s largest insurers, recently announced that it wouldn’t provide liability coverage for injuries “directly or indirectly arising out of, resulting from or contributed to by electromagnetic fields, electromagnetic radiation, electromagnetism, radio waves or noise.”
This is a curious decision. Especially when you consider that Lloyd’s of London has a reputation for insuring what other insurance companies won’t touch. Do Lloyd’s of London underwriters have information to suggest that electromagnetic radiation is a much bigger health threat than commonly believed?
Also, Suspicions of Cancer-Driving Cell Technology Grow
Some studies suggest that cell phones, wi-fi signals, smart meters, and other sources of electromagnetic frequencies can disrupt your body’s natural rhythms and increase the likelihood of cancer. It’s just one more reason to have regular “digital detox” periods in your household when all computers, tablets, smartphones, routers, etc. are completely powered off. As it happens, devices that are turned off and unplugged will also be less vulnerable to EMP damage.
An EMP could damage or destroy some of your electronic devices. Anything that’s plugged in is potentially vulnerable. An EMP of sufficient strength could even destroy some of the electronics in your automobile and prevent it from starting. (If your vehicle is 40 years old and lacks an electronic ignition, then this isn’t a worry.)
As for cell phones, most experts believe they are too small to be susceptible to direct damage from an EMP. But cell phone communications could still be disabled by an EMP. That’s because the cellular repeaters that transmit signals across cellular networks are vulnerable. If your cell phone is your only means of communication with the outside world, you might want to think about getting an alternative.
Secret Government “Kill Switch” for Cell Phones
Another reason to be wary of depending only on cell phone service is that the government can disable it during an emergency. Under the Department of Homeland Security’s secret Standing Operating Procedure 303 (SOP-303), the agency can shut down cell phone services “within a localized area, such as a tunnel or bridge, and within an entire metropolitan area.” It happened in 2011 in San Francisco – during a non-violent protest.
Homeland Security refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Act Request from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) for details on SOP-303. In response, EPIC filed suit. It is currently appealing in federal court to try to force Homeland Security bureaucrats to come clean about their criteria for blocking cell phone use.
In any event, some basic methods of reducing EMP dangers include:
• The use of induction shielding around
• Self-contained battery packs and loop antennas, which can eliminate the chance of pulling in an EMP surge from power lines or long antennas.
• Grounding wires for each separate instrument that is coupled to another.
• Zener diodes, which have been shown to protect solid state components from EMP.
A Home-Made Faraday Box Can Better Shield Your Devices
Sensitive equipment can survive an EMP when stored in a Faraday box. A Faraday box is a metal container designed to divert and soak up an EMP. A Faraday box is not only the simplest and cheapest way to protect many electrical components, but it’s also the most reliable.
Hardening electronics for severe EMPs is a pretty closely guarded field of research. However, many types of containers can be used as makeshift Faraday cages. Metal cake and candy boxes, ammunition containers, old microwaves, metal filing cabinets, etc. can suffice. You can create an effective electromagnetic shield with a galvanized metal trashcan that has a locking lid.
There are two basic requirements for Faraday boxes. First, that the equipment inside the metal shield does NOT touch the metal (plastic, wadded paper, or cardboard can all be used to insulate devices from the metal). Second, that the metal shield is continuous, without any gaps or large holes. The tighter the seal on lids/connections, the better.
Some Steps You Can Take to Protect Key Electronics You Want to Store
If you build an emergency shelter, the whole thing could be turned into a Faraday cage. Simply line it with copper or aluminum foil and cover the air vents with metal screening. Be sure the screen and the foil on the doors are all connected to the foil on the wall so that the covering will act as a continuous shield. Add a heavy carpet to the floor of your Faraday shelter so occupants won’t be in contact with the metal covering. Also, be sure that equipment in the shelter doesn’t contact the foil lining.