A high altitude EMP (electromagnetic pulse) is something that has not happened before (yet) by way of a purpose-built weapon designed to emphasize the natural occurring byproduct of a nuclear explosion – a pulse of energy that in theory will destroy much of the electronics infrastructure within its explosive ‘line of sight’.
The devastating EMP effects from the initial nanoseconds of its ‘E1’ pulse will zap electronic semiconductors to the extent of destroying all or nearly all things electronic beneath its cone of influence as it couples with the atmosphere while zapping tens of thousands of volts in far less time than a blink of an eye…
Since a purpose-built nuclear EMP has not yet been used for its intended purpose (high altitude detonation), the follow-on destruction is largely theoretical, with the exception of ‘Starfish Prime’ – a high-altitude nuclear test conducted by the United States in 1962 out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean at an altitude of 250 miles.
Starfish Prime caused an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), which was far larger than expected, so much larger that it drove much of the instrumentation off scale, causing great difficulty in getting accurate measurements. The Starfish Prime electromagnetic pulse also made those effects known to the public by causing electrical damage in Hawaii, about 1,445 kilometres (898 mi) away from the detonation point, knocking out about 300 streetlights, setting off numerous burglar alarms and damaging a telephone company microwave link. The EMP damage to the microwave link shut down telephone calls from Kauai to the other Hawaiian islands.
-Wikipedia, Starfish Prime
Many theorize that in addition to most all things ‘electronic’ being destroyed, your vehicle too may become inoperable due to the many electronic systems integrated within.
Should this occur while you are away (most likely at work) then you can only imagine what you will be in for…
So what to do and how to prepare for an EMP while you’re at work?
Odds are that you may be ‘at work’
Since we spend so much time away ‘at work’, odds are that a SHTF event may occur while you’re at work. We should all be prepared to some extent to deal with that potential reality. More likely events such as severe weather, earthquake, etc.. may leave you stranded there – so at least a minimal ‘get home bag’ and/or supplies kept in your vehicle may help you deal with the situation.
An EMP though is about as serious as you can get, so preparing for that possibility while being away from home is a daunting thing – and will require much stamina and fortitude to deal with…
When you have identified that an EMP event has occurred, then do not wait to start your journey home. Get out of there. While most others will remain in place while expecting the lights to come back on and an eventual return to normalcy, the initial time of indecision will benefit you while you hit the road…
Note: The probability is such that if an EMP occurs, it may be followed by nuclear war retaliation. I would expect that this will occur if the aggressor has been identified. A follow-on nuclear war is beyond the scope of this article, but suffice to say that if you are in a major city, time will be of the utmost importance…
Objective: Get back home
Your natural objective will be to GET HOME. If you’re lucky, you work only a few miles from home. Most people however commute much further than that and will be facing a long journey without their vehicle.
Although difficult and cumbersome to carry as merely a ‘just in case’ backup in your vehicle, a bicycle would indeed be one of the quickest methods to get back home. They do make ‘folder’ bicycles but they will still take up a lot of room (or might not even fit) in an ordinary vehicle today – especially since today’s cars are so small.
Depending on what you ordinarily wear on your feet for work, you really should keep a pair of walking shoes or hiking boots in your vehicle. Don’t forget a decent pair of socks. You most definitely will be attempting to walk home and shoes that are not meant for long distance walking may lead to debilitating blisters on your feet.
A detailed street map for your region
Most everyone drives to work on the main routes. While this may or may not be your best option to get home, you really should keep a good detailed street map. Many quality road atlas maps will go down to street level. I always carry them for my state and surrounding states, however you may find more local street map detail by searching online for your area. Also note that when you’re walking, things will look very different than when you’re used to quickly passing down the roads…
You will need water much more than you will need food. Start off by always carrying some bottled water in your vehicle. However you will likely need a decent (small) water filter to refill from water sources along the way. The Sawyer Mini is probably the best in this regard.
Think ‘calories’. Estimate how long it may take you to walk all the way home (which may become many days). You should plan to carry at least 2,000 calories per day of travel. Since many foods can be heavy, choose calorie-dense foods. Emergency food bars are one good choice.
Since your walk home may take many days, you will need to shelter and sleep along the way. At least carry a simple tarp and cordage to erect a simple shelter.
Appropriate clothing for the season. Plan for wet weather and carry at least a rain poncho. Hypothermia can kill you so be sure you’re prepared for that. Stay dry. Most people when off to work do not plan on needing adequate outerwear to be able to walk home in comfort and safety.
You must be able to carry your supplies, so some sort of backpack will be ESSENTIAL. There’s no excuse for not keeping one in your trunk (along with the other emergency supplies to get back home).
You may or may not need to make a fire on your way home. But with that said, it’s simple to carry what you need to do so. Lighter, matches, Firesteel, etc…
A good LED flashlight will likely be an important and comforting asset to your get-home-bag.
Lets hear from you. Add to the list as to what you feel is most important to make it home from work without a vehicle.
From your comments:
Security (firearm, etc..)
Cordage (Paracord, etc..)
Moleskin (for feet – blister prevention)
First Aid Kit
OTC pain tablets (Ibuprofen, etc..)
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