Will an EMP Effect Electronics That are Turned Off: Shocking Facts

In a flash, the world goes dark. It’s an EMP strike. Can you use electronics that had no power, or are they fried too? You don’t want to be without essential capabilities like cooking, refrigeration, and phones. How likely is that scenario? EMP’s or electromagnetic pulses are a game-changer when it comes to your survival. Unless you have a whole, off-grid, no-tech set up waiting for you, then you probably have some vulnerable devices. Unfortunately, several nations are developing EMP weapons, so this could get real very quickly. I’ll walk you through what it means for your electronics.

Will an EMP effect electronics that are turned off? EMPs will affect electronics that are turned off. Unfortunately, it’s not the power that the pulse disrupts, but the wiring. The good news is that there’s a way for you to protect your home and electrical devices. 


EMPs Effect Electronics Without Power: Here’s Why

I would love to tell you that the power switch can save your electronics from an EMP, but it’s not true. The reality is that even a device with no power might fry. Regrettably, that means pulling the battery or plug won’t work either.

Although there are different types of EMP, they have the same effect. The cause of the damage is electricity. Unfortunately, the pulse doesn’t need outside power because it provides it’s own. Like a power surge, but fast enough to overload any surge protector, this wave of power fries conductive wires leaving you in the dark.

The good news is that some devices and machines are not vulnerable to this attack. For example, older cars and battery-operated devices with little to no wiring would likely have no problem. Similarly, solar panels don’t have wires. However, to connect a solar panel and use it, you do need wiring. Vintage electronics are also likely to survive. The use of cables to conduct electrical impulses is the issue.

Power & Speed

Because an EMP creates a widespread pulse of electricity, it activates and overpowers your wires. According to Business Insider, “The intensity of a nuclear detonation’s EMP is about 30,000 to 50,000 volts per meter.”

The speed of the pulse means standard surge protectors are useless. They can stop a lightning strike from traveling up your cords, but an EMP is hundreds or thousands of times quicker. Fortunately, you don’t need to let worries over a pulse keep you up at night.

Instead of getting sleepless, get smart. As you prepare your emergency gear, use Faraday cages for small EDC items. Additionally, you can prep a whole house with help from EMPShield.com. They have a system that can save your Bug-in location or your remote bug-out cabin in the woods.

Predicting EMPs

Even if you could simply turn off devices to prevent EMP damage, which you can’t, you’d still need a warning in advance. Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict when an EMP will hit. Solar events can cause naturally occurring EMP events. However, we have no way to detect them in time to send a warning.

Manmade EMPs are a different story. As weapons, they’re highly effective because they can cut off communications and other powered systems. Although we still can’t detect them in time to send a warning, we know one useful fact.

Countries are building them for offensive attacks. According to Forbes, China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia are all working on EMP weapons. While we can’t predict when an EMP will threaten us, we do know that it seems almost inevitable.


Negate EMP Effects Without Turning Off Devices

When it comes to blocking out EMPs, the great news is that it’s not that difficult. For those who loved science in school, you’re probably already familiar with Faraday Cages. If not, no worries, I’ll explain how they work and what you can do to protect your EDC, and more.

The short version is that a Faraday Cage shields the contents from electrical interference, like EMPs. However, that doesn’t tell you very much. A Faraday Cage can look like a chain-link fence, a fine mesh, or even a solid container. Yet regardless of the appearance, they all do the same job.

By absorbing and redistributing the electricity around the cage, nothing gets inside. So long as the container goes all the way around your vulnerable electronics and cords, the contents are safe. Basically, it creates a hollow conductor.

Using Faraday Bags for EDC

Preparedness is more useful when you plan for generic disasters, rather than trying to be ready for one specific problem. While EMP’s are a unique situation, shielding your devices from outside signals is a part of inclusive planning.

For example, it’s impossible to track or even call a phone inside a Faraday bag or cage. Although that means you can’t call out, it also means no one can track your GPS. Pack your electronics inside a protective mesh bag or metal container.

Regardless of whether you’re stocking a generator for your BOL, packing up some useful power tools in your BOV or Bug-In preps, or simply repacking your EDC for your belt, this is your best move. Those who sew can use a fine copper mesh to make a simple closable bag for their equipment.

Test Your EMP Protection

All the planning in the world won’t help if you don’t test and maintain your preparedness supplies. Fortunately, checking a Faraday bag is easier than you think. You need two charged cell phones and a ready bag or cage.

First, place one turned-on phone inside your protection. Next, seal it up tightly. Make sure there are no significant gaps. Finally, use the second phone to call the first. If your phone rings, then your Faraday bag doesn’t work.

Try adding a layer of aluminum foil, or a second layer of copper cloth. If that Fails, try purchasing a metal garbage can with a lid and put your Faraday bag inside. Repeat your test and add layers until nothing happens.

Where Do EMPs Originate

In addition to solar activity, there are plenty of sources of electromagnetic pulses. A lightning strike causes a small, localized LEMP (Lightning EMP). Fortunately, these pulses are slower than other types. Hence your surge protector can handle the problem.

Nuclear explosions cause massive, fast-moving NEMPs (Nuclear EMPs). Beyond direct strike damage to the surrounding areas, there’s another worry with nukes. I’m not referring to the fallout, which is a whole different issue, but rather what happens when they’re detonated in the atmosphere above an area.

Such a strike would cause a massive problem for Americas’ electrical grid. Naturally, we are not alone in having this vulnerability. Regardless, the point is that setting off a nuclear blast above a country instead of on the ground is smart warfare.

Rather than destroying buildings and people, an attacker could ruin the lines of communication and much of our technology. Moreover, several nations are also working on HEMP (High-Altitude EMP) and ground-based devices that are non-nuclear.

NASA Studies EMP Effects

With all the conflicting data out there, it’s hard to know who to trust. One thing is obvious; EMPs are a serious threat. Resultantly, in my search for more information, I discovered that NASA studies the effects of EMPs.

Future humans who plan to colonize other worlds may have to shield their equipment from EMP strikes. Both lightning and solar events could cause serious survival issues for humans on other planets as well as this one. Though we can hope that warfare and nuclear devices won’t be an immediate concern for new colonists, there’s no way to tell.

Nevertheless, they’ve learned some intriguing things about how shielding works. For example, a protective barrier that has a power cord running from inside to outside is a significant weakness in the system, increasing the likeliness of the EMP penetrating inside. Luckily it’s not insurmountable.

When in doubt, ask a professional for help in shielding. I recommend contacting EMPShield.com when you’re ready to get serious about protecting your emergency preparedness location and all the equipment you store inside. They can help you make sure that your home and BOL are ready for anything.


EMP Myths About Turned Off Devices & More

There are a handful of dangerous EMP myths, like the idea that turning off your devices will help. Unfortunately, these widespread beliefs can hurt your emergency preparedness plans. Here are four of the most important myths and their truth.

  1. “EMP’s don’t affect devices that are powered off.” In reality, anything with sufficient wiring acts as an antenna and conducts the pulse.
  2. “EMP’s affect human bodies.” With very few possible exceptions, like people with heart monitors, there’s no reason to believe this. Even those with heart monitors and devices implanted are at low risk.
  3. “Stay away from metal.” This is ridiculous. Although you don’t want to be holding a lightning rod in a storm, more significant EMP events would be unlikely to harm you.
  4. “All cars and watches would stop.” Any device with enough wire inside to act as an antenna would likely fry. However, not all cars and very few watches fall into this category.

Be Realistic About EMPs

Panicking never helps to protect you or your loved ones. Like all emergency preparedness, getting ready for EMP events requires systematic planning. It’s okay to start small. Get a Faraday Bag for your cell phone. Then add bigger containers for backup generators, wires, and other extra equipment.

Alternatively, you can always choose to protect the big things first. Secure your bug-in and bug-out locations so you can simply store everything you need inside. Or you can start on a vehicle. However, don’t try to DIY such a big job. The Department of Homeland Security lists EMPShield.com as part of the 2019 Resilience Report.

Just as it’s vital to read reviews on products you order online, you should go with a trusted, high-quality, professional service for large EMP protection needs. Unless you’re an expert at Faraday Cages, it’s not worth risking your safety.

Keep your car and home running when others are left in the dark by making smart choices. Just remember to breathe and follow the plan. Execute the steps you set out to protect yourself without hesitation or undue urgency.


Final Thoughts

Like a pandemic affects your body, EMPs are terrifying because they can affect most devices even when they’re turned off. Letting yourself fall prey to myths or wrong thinking could be deadly when SHTF. Stay safe and protect the electrical tools you use.

Learn more about protecting your home from EMPs in this video. There’s tons of valuable information available to help you shield the things that matter most. You can keep a few backup items, or a whole building safe.

While most people aren’t at risk from an EMP, virtually everything that makes modern life possible is in danger. Don’t get caught out with no survival plan.

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