Is It An EMP or Not?

If a disaster event takes place, how will you know or determine what actually happened? Knowing what happened immediately will get you moving in the right direction sooner rather than aimlessly guessing as to the extent of the incident.

What are the first steps you need to take? Determine if it actually was an EMP or if it was just a major power outage. Since an EMP would probably be silent, what's first?

1) Check the obvious. If you have a cellphone, see if it works. Call someone out of the area and see if you get through. If you still have a wired telephone called a landline, see if it works. 

Answer: If the cell towers withstood an EMP blast, it may be just running on batteries with maybe a 48 hour life. However, cellphone traffic could be so extreme you may not get a call through though. Even wired phones may be clogged with users and you may not get a dialtone. During the 9/11 attack, most landline phones didn't work for hours. If your charged cellphone seems dead, it most likely got hit with an EMP pulse and destroyed it. Check digital wristwatches, portable calculators, radios, and other electronic devices. If all of them seem dead, it is most likely an EMP pulse. If you have a police scanner that you had protected in a Faraday cage, listen for any communications on the police and fire channels. If it is scanning but you hear absolutely nothing for a long period of time, chances are it could be an EMP strike.

2) Check for power in your house. Are all the lights off? Do any appliances work? Does your cable TV or satellite TV work? Is there any power in the house?

Answer: Check to see if the main circuit breaker has tripped. This is common if you had a power line surge. If power to your house is off it will be more difficult to test all electric and electronic devices. A regional grid down occurrence should not be confused with an EMP strike. You will need to check all battery operated equipment. If they all work, it could just be a grid down. If most are dead, suspect an EMP strike.

3) If you are on the road, are all cars moving normally? Are traffic lights working? Does your car radio work?

Answer: Check to see if your late model auto starts and runs ok. If it runs ok, it could just be a grid down situation. If it won't start or doesn't run properly, an EMP is likely. Are cars in the neighborhood, street, or highways moving effortlessly? It could be just a grid down. If all cars except a few are stalled out and blocking the roadways, suspect a EMP strike. Listen to the radio and see if there are any stations broadcasting and any news or emergency info. If the radio is dead and you just hear noise, suspect an EMP.

4) If it is night time and you live in the city or suburbs, can you see any outside lights or is it pitch dark everywhere with the exception of emergency spotlights?

Answer: If it's nighttime and everything is dark, you will need to observe traffic. If cars are running effortlessly except for traffic lights, it could just be a major grid down. If most cars are stalled and dark, it is most likely an EMP. Some older cars will still run.

5) Does it seem like planes are moving effortlessly in the air or does it look like huge streaks of light heading to the ground with an explosion and fire?

Answer: If planes seem normal there's a good chance your blackout is regional. If planes are "falling" out of the sky, suspect an EMP.

6) If you live in rural or isolated locations like the deep woods or desert, can you see any normal lights? Tower strobes? Distant towns or cities?

Answer: If you live isolated in the mountains and can normally see into a town or see lights from a town, you may just have a regional blackout. If the town seems strangely dark with few lights, and suspicious fires, suspect an EMP. If tower lights or strobes are missing and all is dark, suspect an EMP. If you live in a desert and off the side of a mountain and what would be a normal blanket of lights toward the city but strangely dark, suspect an EMP. If you see billows of smoke or distant fires, suspect an EMP.

7) If you have a ham or CB set, does it work? Can you contact anyone?

Answer: If you have sufficient battery power and your radios are completely dead, suspect an EMP. If your radios were kept in a hardened location and do work and the band is completely dead, suspect an EMP. If you can raise another station at a great distance, inquire as to their status and condition. If they say they pulled out their radios from hardened containers and you were the only contact they made, suspect an EMP. If they were 50 miles or more from you and everything is fine on their end, suspect a major blackout around your immediate location.

8) Do you have any other technology like an ipad, iphone, mp3 player, internet? Does any or all work or does everything seem completely dead?

Answer: If all your technology seems dead, it's most likely an EMP strike. Some electronics "might" work if it was shielded from the EMP or the EMP was weaker.

9) Do you have an older pre-63 auto and does it start and run? If you live on a farm and have older tractors, do they seem to function?

Answer: Electronics were introduced to autos around 1964 starting with the alternator/regulator, and ignition system. These devices may not survive an EMP strike. Before that, conventional ignitions, points and condenser ignitions and generators were used and most would survive an EMP. These cars will start and run along with all older models. If you have old farm tractors and equipment they would most likely run if they weren't upgraded with more modern electronics.

So now what? You've determined it was an EMP of sufficient strength to send your life and everybody within 3000+ miles back in time to the 19th century. It may be a minimum of two years before electricity is partially back to normal. But life will never return to the "normal" we have now. Many millions will die within a year after "the day". It is estimated that 90% of humans in the EMP blast will be dead within a year. So, it is important to hold onto your sanity and gather as much information as you can, hopefully you will have prepared for yourself and family or friends and hold on for a bumpy ride. Start with the website "One Second After" and read the novel with the same name, along with the novel "Patriots" by James Wesley Rawles available on Amazon.

By now you should have had all your provisions, water and food, securely stashed away, defensive weapons and ammunition to defend your family or group, basic communications recalled from your hardened containers, and stay hidden from plain sight for a long time. There will be pillaging, rioting, mobs, and bands of hoarders and militants going from door to door robbing and taking everything of value and possibly killing everyone else, and burning your home or shelter for heat.

It sounds horrifying but you will have to face a lot of hard decisions. Keeping sane and being mature and stable will get you through a lot of troubles.

It is not in the scope of this page to itemize all your needs, but there are countless websites and books explaining what to do and how to do it. Surround yourself with as many competent and trustworthy persons to harden your shelter and provide a secure environment. But for a starter, these are a few websites of importance:  

For the most part, having enough water and food is priority. Shelter, communications and security is next. Be sure to visit How To EMP Proof A Vehicle.

It is now February 2021, and I have been asked where to buy guns and ammo. They are almost gone from stores now. A box of ammo used to be $22. Now they are almost $100 if available. I have come back and said, "Where have you been for the last year? Why haven't you been preparing all this time?". I just get a blank stare. The same thing goes for walkie-talkies like the Baofeng UV5. They are currently $29 each and within the next year could go to $150.

DO NOT delay in preparing. It may cost you your life!


Copyright 2022 by Rick C. April 4, 2022 Ver 0.47