Those that are aware of the EMP commissions report have probably also heard the statement that this type of event would suddenly transport everyone involved back to the 1800’s almost instantly. It is also possible that up to 90% of the population could die within 2 years due to the sudden lack of modern technology. It does not matter if it is an EMP, CME, cyber attack or terrorist attack on the grid, the results will be largely the same.
This is a sobering notion that you can either believe or disbelieve. If you think it is all hype you need only to go back to your daily activities and hope it never happens and leave your survival to someone who will do something if it ever happens. For those hardy souls that take responsibility for their own fate and that of their family, it falls to you to determine what this type of event will mean for you. An event of this magnitude will affect different people in different locations in different ways.
It is important to first realize what changes you will likely see following this event. To understand this you must look at what a 19th century lifestyle would look like to you. Understanding these differences will help you to determine what plans you need to make ahead of time to adjust to these changes in a way that will allow you to survive. Here are some of the things you will face with a collapse in modern technology and this does not even take into account problems you will face from the ill prepared.
Nineteenth Century support systems included the following:
Sailing ships for cargo and human transport
Steamships for cargo and human transport
Steam locomotives for cargo and human transport
Horses and wagons for cargo and human transport
Horses, mules and oxen for cultivation and harvesting
Root cellars for common storage
Ice houses to store ice cut in winter
Open pollinated seeds for planting
Livestock manure for fertilizer
Local mills for processing grains
Shallow dug water wells for fresh water
Manual tools for building and repairs
Developed systems for kerosene, whale oil and candle making for lighting
Mechanical power systems for factories and machinery
Telegraph lines for communication
Local craftsmen to build and repair items
Human and animal means to produce coal
Wood stoves for cooking and heating
Outhouses for sanitation needs
Buildings designed for natural ventilation
Limited clean water systems
Limited hospitals and doctors
Limited drugs, medications and medical equipment
Limited firefighting capabilities
Limited law enforcement capabilities
Physical currency of silver and gold
Banks utilizing paper records
Many of these systems exist today only in museums or historical sites and in insufficient quantities to support the population we now have. So simply going back to 19th century living standards would be impossible for the vast majority of people even under the best of circumstances. This brings to light the conclusion that 90% of the population would not survive long term under these conditions.
Assuming this type of event did occur, what would you need in advance to insure your survival? That is a question many people need to ask but most will not simply because their belief system would be shattered if they acknowledged potential threats and that they need to be responsible for their own lives.
There is the potential for many types of catastrophic events that we may never see but the potential should be enough to cause reflection on the individuals part to at least ask the important questions for their own survival. To prepare mentally as well as physically is important to survive the worst of the potential events we could face. You may not find yourself living in the 19th Century tomorrow, but what if?
Many people have read the reports that claim we would be sent back to 19th century living levels following an event and many simply think they could bear that for a short period until things get fixed. The problem is we no longer have 19th century infrastructure to support that level of existence. We do not have the transportation systems based on horses and steam locomotives, the ability to grow, harvest and process food the 19th century way, the local water sources to support populations, the sanitation systems or the medical systems that do not rely on technology or the ability to heat and cook the 19th century way. We have the knowledge to build these systems but that takes time and resources we may not have especially in the large cities. Without these types of systems waiting on the sidelines to be readily put into action, society as it is would collapse into tribal warfare as groups fight for the few resources that still exist. Even with these systems we could not support the number of people we now have. In short, many people would die even in the best of circumstances. Those that have these types of systems would have the ability to survive if they could protect these resources long enough.
If you own a large boat and suddenly sink for some reason many miles from shore, there is an easy way to survive this situation and a hard way to survive. You can have a good life boat, supplies and a radio to call for help and wait in relative safety or you can float around in the ocean with nothing but a life jacket hoping somebody finds you in time.
Any type of disaster can be looked at in these terms. Preparation makes all the difference when things happen. With all of the talk about a possible EMP happening it is important to think in these terms and provide yourself the best possible way to survive events should they happen. This means realizing what could happen and what supplies you need that can survive the initial effects of the disaster.
An EMP has its own special problems when it comes to storing supplies, especially equipment, to survive the aftermath. The special nature of an EMP make many types of equipment unreliable following an event without proper storage. Even with proper storage the use of a super EMP could overwhelm many basic storage devices such as homemade faraday cages. The U.S. hardened some of its military infrastructure to withstand a pulse of 50 kilovolts/meter. The problem is that Russia has weapons that can produce up to 200 kilovolts/meter which would likely overwhelm our most hardened components. Until it actually happens you don’t really know what will survive. This is the crux of the problem trying to decide what to store to survive an EMP.
I go about this in a twofold manner. I store electronic devices in the safest manner I can but I also have a non-electric backup system in the event that fails. As with any preparations, two is always better than one. This means if one system fails you have another to go to you can be sure will work when needed. This means preparing systems in depth to assure availability.
Just as an example, if you know you will need transportation following an event you could have an older vehicle stored in a metal building to protect it and certain electronic components for that vehicle stored with additional shielding in the event the vehicle is damaged. This will allow repairs following the event. Then you could have a secondary mode of transportation such as horses, a bicycle or a boat depending on your circumstances. This provides you with many options no matter how bad the event was. Just keep in mind that the simpler the system, the more likely it will still work when needed.
You need to determine what critical systems you will need or want following an event and determine what you will need to store to have those capabilities. This prior planning is essential so you do not waste time and limited resources on items you do not need or will not survive the initial phases of the event.
If you want power following an event you need to do a good assessment and determine what components will give you the most bang for the buck. A generator is good but you would also want to store electronic components that can break or burn out as well as items like carburetor kits and spare spark plugs. You would need a good fuel supply on hand and possibly an alternative fuel source like propane or wood gas. If this system fails to work following an event you would need a secondary energy source. Solar or wind is good but you would need all of the components to make a complete energy system including charge controllers, batteries and power inverters.
If you have solar panels and batteries and these are the only things to survive you will still have generating and energy storage capability. Having panels hooked directly to batteries would require close monitoring to prevent damage and a simple voltage meter would be helpful in this regard. This would give you 12v or 24v power to utilize in an emergency and there are many products out there that run on these voltages. This would provide you with a viable energy system as a backup and some capabilities even if you only had a 12v lighting system and a 12v absorption refrigerator to use. Planning ahead and breaking it down to the most likely components to survive will avoid wasted time and money.
Propane appliances are a good way to go when planning for electrical disruptions. Old school propane appliances that lack a lot of electronics will insure operability when you need it. A good supply of propane is also easy to get at this time allowing you to run appliances for months or years depending on your storage capacity. This can give you the time needed to survive and adjust to long term realities.
At the bottom tier of your alternatives should be manual tools and equipment that can replace electrical and energy dependent devices to accomplish the tasks you deem necessary following an EMP event. These are the systems you can depend on to work no matter what happens. This is your last line of defense in a worst case scenario. When planning systems I try to buy the manual items first simply because they are usually cheaper and if something happens before I buy everything I want, I know what I have will work.
Thinking ahead and identifying the weak links now will allow you to survive much easier than the general population will if such an event comes to pass. Having even a handful of backup systems that still function following an event will give you a definite edge when survival becomes a daily task. Every capability you have following an event gives you that much more to insure survival. Surviving an EMP event will be no piece of cake by any means but would you rather be afloat in relative safety or simply fighting to keep your head above water?