Surviving massive power grid failure – Part 2b:
Hardening and Shielding electric devices
Ok, so you want to have use of several modern conveniences after an EMP attack.
Building a Faraday cage:
Reynolds Wrap is sufficient to shield devices from the effects of EMP pulses. However you have to ensure you get continuous (360 degree) protection. For small items ,you can place them inside a galvanized trash can. Line the trash can with a non-conducting material (cardboard will do) and then wrap each device in aluminum foil. If these are your spare devices, you might just leave them in the box or original packaging (easier to wrap up that way), and then place them inside the trash can. I would insulate each device from each other (place in a paper bag or wrap in a t-shirt). This will also protect the aluminum foil wrapping from getting ripped if the trash can has to be moved around occasionally.
You can also use an ammo can or any metal container but remove any non-conducting seal or gasket that may prevent a good seal on the lid and permit electricity to leak into the container. File cabinets might work if you ensure a good connection between the frame and the drawer opening. Popcorn tins should work. Do you have a metal tool shed? Guess what...as long as you have covered any openings with metal screens, it should be ok but use secondary wrappings on any device (aluminum foil) just to be safe. A metal trash can will work (that is what I use). There are mixed reviews on using a microwave as a Faraday cage but since I want to have a working microwave anyway, I am just going to wrap one up in foil.
You can also tape all seams with metal duct tape to ensure you have a good seal.
Building a Faraday room:
You can build a room in your home specifically as a Faraday cage; however, it will add costs to construction. I saw one estimate that it would add roughly 30% to the total cost. Just as you need to ensure that a trash can or ammo can or any metal box has a good seal when closed, you have to do the same with the door(s) on your Faraday room. It does no good if the door was open when the EMP attack occurred. This room will not have working electric sockets or lights unless you have insulated them against the E1 pulse (using fast switching electric protection). Use secondary wrapping or enclosures on any contents unless you have tested the room to ensure it is shielded properly (hint – if you can get a cell signal or Wi-Fi inside your room, it is not properly shielded).
What do I plan to protect? I plan to shield a small room in my house and place some spare equipment in it (still in the box in most cases). Some equipment might be new but usually this is a good place to retire an old unit or device that is still working.
► A portable solar generator big enough to run a small refrigerator along with some other small appliances.
► A small refrigerator/freezer (empty and unplugged). Back up - establish a root cellar.
► Spare water pump (for the water catchment tank) and spare blowers for the solar heater exchange and ground source heat pump . Back up – have a hand pump for an elevated tank and a pot belly or franklin stove (in addition to the fireplace).
► Lots of extension cords, preferably with wire braid shielding (these don’t have to be stored in the Faraday room or cage).
► A spare inverter if I have a wind mill.
► A coffee maker, a microwave, and a few other small appliances that are not continuous run (toaster? rice cooker?). Back up – solar oven, a grill or a fire pit under an awning.
► A laptop with plenty of external USB drives storing data that I want access to after the attack (a reference library, videos for entertainment, etc) and the largest monitor I can power on the portable solar generator (while running the refrigerator). A Kindle or Nook or IPad with lots of survival and medical manuals and recipe books on them; can also include videos. Include a small solar panel for recharging these devices separately. Back up – a reference library.
► Small devices either solar powered or with rechargeable batteries (flashlights, radio receiver, possibly a HAM radio). Small walkie talkies with rechargeable batteries. A battery recharger (there are several solar powered battery rechargers available).
► Some power tools with spare batteries and battery charger. Multi-meter, circuit tester and other repair equipment. Back up – hand tools.
► Spare LED lights (solar powered camp lights preferred). Back up – candles and lanterns.
► Any medical equipment that is electric powered that I can’t do without (battery powered blood pressure monitor, electronic thermometer)
► Spare electrical parts for any equipment (including the car).
► A couple small digital clocks and other small devices such as calculators (solar powered ones).
This list is not exhaustive and much of it will depend on your own personal situation; what electric devices do you rely on day to day? Electric heating - going to need a back-up for that. What space do you have available to store devices? What can you afford to put in storage?
Vehicles: today’s modern vehicles can have over 100 micro-processors that run on very low voltage and control many of the vehicles systems. Electronic fuel injection, electronic ignition, anti-lock brakes and emission controls are just a few of the computer chip controlled systems. You can look for vehicles that were built prior to the mid-1980s and can probably find some that might not be immobilized in an EMP attack. Look for Jeeps, Harvester Scouts, Toyota Land Cruisers or Hi Lux’es with 4x4 drives. Just remember that much of the ability to transport fuel and even pump fuel out of tanks will be diminished if not inoperative, so you might want to get a hand pump and plenty of jerry cans in addition to storing some fuel at your Bug In start point (sufficient fuel to get to your Bug Out destination if that is your plan). Diesel takes less refining than gasoline so you might want to stick with a diesel engine model. It also stores better and is less flammable. You should also be prepared if you can’t get fuel – either you have a vehicle you converted to burn cooking oil or biofuel (and can make biofuel) or you have a mechanical vehicle like a bike. Or, you have a horse or a mule.
Banking: Looking at FerFal Aguirre’s book, "Surviving the Coming Economic Collapse", he stated that a currency was still required after a SHTF event...a barter system did not emerge. While Argentine paper money became devalued, other currencies retained their value. You also need to think about having things of value that you can use to buy things you need. Food will have value, particularly if you can grow or raise your own. I am thinking that adult beverages will have value. Guns and ammo will have value but I am not sure that I would want to trade those away. Have some cash handy in the house and also look at keeping some precious metals on hand. You may not be able to use your credit or debit cards at all and may not be able to get cash from the banks whose electronic record keeping is not accessible.
Ok, one more article on this topic to follow, the last in the series of surviving a massive power grid failure...the cyber attack.
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