Faraday cages can protect your sensitive electronic devices during an electromagnetic pulse. A man-made device or a natural phenomenon that can occur that causes all electronic operated communications, computer chips in cars, household appliances, ATM machines etc. to fail sounds more like the stuff of a science fiction novel than reality but it is a very real and serious threat.
Microwave weapons, conventional explosive EMP bombs etc. are less well known threats but they are more likely to be used than say a nuclear device.
The point is there are plenty of non-nuclear EMP devices and non-solar electronic pulses to worry about taking our grid and your electronics out and this technology is something many terrorist groups already possess.
Many of us in the preparedness community fear an EMP event be it natural or otherwise more than any other disaster because it is a true day of reckoning for our modern world. NASA predicts that there is a 12 percent chance every year that a solar event can plunge society into a grid down world for a lengthy period of time.
Modern society and life as we know it can indeed be over in a flash and that is just the beginning of this major mega disaster, particularly if a rogue country used a nuclear device to bring about an EMP Armageddon for our National electric grid.
“Within a year of that attack, nine out of 10 Americans would be dead, because we can’t support a population of the present size in urban centers and the like without electricity,” said Frank Gaffney, President of the Center for Security Policy. “And that is exactly what I believe the Iranians are working towards.”
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Commissioner Lowell Wood deemed an EMP attack a “giant continental time machine” that would move us back more than a century in technology to the late 1800s.”
This article will not delve into the many ways our grid can fail from EMP, nuclear or space weather you may research that information for yourself. I do however want you to understand that conventional explosive based EMP missiles and bombs are in the arsenals of every major country in the world.
For years I have expressed this fact in books and articles and listed a few examples that mentioned that banks in Russia have been exploited, held hostage or extorted by criminals by just threatening to point an EMP rifle at their digital records or a switching device on the daily monetary interbank transfers. These type of destructive devices can made for less than a hundred bucks from Radio Shack parts. Banks are now shielding their records and servers in specially EMP hardened structures.
Now we have cyber hackers to add to that mix too, but what happens if I just set off a homemade electronic pulse generator in a main transformer station or could be a terrorist walks down your street and aims at transformer boxes on power poles? Grid down my friend. That is lights out on a small geographic scale but if you did that to only nine particular substations – then its national grid down.
The thing is threats to electronics like a solar storm for example can be detected by NASA and you might possibly get a government issued emergency warning that a geomagnetic pulse is going to hit the Earth say with a in a day or so notice if our warning satellites pick it up.
What Is A Faraday Cage?
What do you do right now – this very minute, to prepare for this type of disastrous event? One way to prepare is to build one or more containers for your household to shield important electronic items from the effects of an electromagnetic pulse.
These containers are called Faraday cages and these were first invented by Michael Faraday, a scientist of the mid-1800s. Fortunately for us, they’re pretty simple and inexpensive to make.
A Faraday cage is a sealed enclosure that has an electrically conductive outer layer and a non-conductive inner layer. The purpose of this box, bag or can etc. is to protect any electronics inside it. The idea can be very simple to perform.
For instance, you could just wrap your devices inside a thick layer of aluminum foil, the thicker the better, after they’ve been covered by a layer of insulating material to avoid your devices from touching the conductive material. That means you can do something easily and simply right now to attempt to prepare to do something about the survivability of that currently unprotected survival radio in your bug out bag.
This concept of shielding or diverting meltdowns using shielding has all sorts of amazing applications, but here’s one that’s relevant to anyone who’s ever been in an airplane. Let’s just conceptualize it’s not all magic and smoke and mirrors and is something that is planned for and considered every day. The concept of Faraday cages are very old technology.
Just Imagine for a moment flying in an airplane that’s suddenly struck by lightning. This isn’t a rare occurrence — it actually happens regularly, yet the plane and its passengers aren’t affected, are they? That’s because the aluminum hull of the plane creates a Faraday cage. The charge from the lightning can pass harmlessly over the surface of the plane without damaging the equipment or people inside.
So when we get a warning or emergency alert of a solar storm coming (or we have already prepared way before an event) we begin by placing or technological devices in a Faraday Cage so that our electronic stuff retains its value and functionality after the catastrophic wave hits. We do this preparedness measure very simply and cheaply and hopefully after the threat passes we can take our stuff out and go on with our lives once the all clear is sounded.
Wait a minute, how are you going to hear any news if your survival radio isn’t protected from EMP? How much stuff you yourself think you need or have time to protect is a personal choice and basis for another article on what might be useful grid down. But, for now I just want you to be proactive and protect your survival radio ok? I don’t care what kind of radio you have, I just want you to guarantee yourself a means of hearing further warnings, directives or any news from the Emergency Broadcast system.
That is if they are still up and running, because I, as an Emergency Manager, can attest to the fact that after the Federal Government spending over a hundred million dollars to harden one of the main transmission points, it was found out that the wiring leading into the bunker was unprotected and another five million dollars had to be allocated to fix the problem! Last I heard, they were still working on it but they will fix it.
A well-constructed Faraday Cage to protect the most important survival electronics. Having basic functioning electronics, like a radio, a small generator maybe, electronic parts for cars, etc., can and will be a God send for those that have the knowledge to help themselves and act upon warnings or prepare in advance not to be warned for that matter if an EMP strike is imminent or predicted to occur.
Since any container made of metal can be classified as a Faraday Cage with a few tweaks, you may already have one sitting around in your home. Do you have a surplus steel military ammunition box? You got to be careful with those because of the rubber seal on the lid and that is one thing a lot of preppers don’t realize but it’s an easy fix and they work great.
Popcorn tins are often used and even tightly sealed metal filing cabinets can work to construct your Faraday Cage. In all cases, the metal container is lined with insulating material to prevent the contents from having contact with the metal. Examples of insulating material that are ideal for use in a Faraday Cage include: cardboard, Styrofoam, even carpet scraps or the rubber under padding, makes an excellent insulator.
How about a microwave oven? No a microwave does not make a good Faraday Cage – even though many preppers are under the misconception they do. Many people have disproved this myth because they basically only block a narrow bandwidth.
Although I am simplifying the process, I am not saying you can’t prepare better or make more substantial or voluminous preparations to contain all those high tech giz whizzes that you value so much these days. But, you can throw your latest greatest Iphone or whatever in there (even though cell towers have better technology than the grid does to survive but I’m guessing they will all be inoperable) and hey, stick your laptop maybe in this big ol’ 30 gallon galvanized trash can.
From a pure survival perspective, it is essential to place radios in a Faraday Cage so you can have a means of getting Federal and state disaster communications. If you are trying to remember which bug out bag or shelf you have your back-up one on, stop reading this article now and go get that roll of Reynolds wrap out and secure your communications!
How To Make A Faraday Cage
The easiest and most talked about form of creating your very own Faraday Cage is the time tested and much reviewed on YouTube and prepper forums means of lining a galvanized garbage can completely with cardboard.
You can place a radio inside of a sealed can and listen for the sound of a station receiving a signal. In other words, you put a radio inside of a garbage can lined, bottom, lid sides etc., with cardboard and see if you can hear if any noise is present.
A very large metal container will most likely be adaptable to pretty much everything you have in your house including your desktop tower, that could offer access to communications to the outside world.
You could also purchase commercial EMP proof bags of various sizes to help protect your sensitive electronics. The prices of these Mylar looking bags have come down substantially but a cardboard box covered with foil will work if you want to save your money now that you have learned the basics of EMP proofing your electronic gear.