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EMP Survival — Day One

In July I wrote about taking a personal survival challenge to spend five days alone at home simulating a survival situation. The simulation was an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) that spreads from a high altitude nuclear explosion over the US. The burst of super-fast, super-high energy penetrates and destroys the electrical systems and electronic devices we depend on in modern society. At home the damage is to all appliances, computers, phones, televisions, cars, radios…anything containing electronics. The entire grid is also taken down so there’s no electricity for homes, hospitals, fire departments, police stations, or stores. My purpose is to live at home without running water or electricity (simulated freezer and refrigerator empty), and to put into practice the logical “first steps” that anyone at home would need to take for short term survival during that first week.

I kept a journal to remind me of daily conditions, observations and decisions, and for keeping track of lessons learned. Such a journal would be an important reference during the many months it might take before help arrives. Short term survival priorities would include water, food, fuel for fire, sanitation, health, and defense.

Following an EMP attack the first day journal might look something like this:

Monday, August 19, 2019

0630: No running water in the house, no electricity. Reset circuit breakers, no power. Outside of house and power line ok. Electric meter in place. No trees down. Car doesn’t start. Battery connection is ok. Radio doesn’t work. No cars on road, everything quiet. Mackerel sky, light wind. Temperature is 51 deg F.

0700: Laptop and mobile phone do not work. Portable radio not working, batteries seem ok. Old flashlight and battery lantern works. Collected water from downstairs faucet, hot water heater, and coiled up garden hose. Strung-up 10×10 plastic tarp to catch and channel rain water into washtub. Will store clean water in ice chest, plastic tubs, zip-lock bags.

0800: Inventoried food in house. Canned goods: vegetables, fruit, soup, chicken, tuna, chili, jar of pasta sauce. Dry groceries: oat meal, cereal, peanut butter, pasta, coffee, popcorn, cookies, spaghetti, crackers. Some spirits, wine, beer and bottled water. Stored food and drinks in plastic storage tubs, moved upstairs into a locked closet.

0900: Boiled water outside on backpacking stove (MSR Whisperlite Universal Hybrid Fuel) for oatmeal, coffee, cleaning dishes. Checked surrounding area for edible plants: Plantain, Dandelion, Prunella, Clover, Acorns, Chickweed, Queen Anne’s Lace, Mint and Pine needles for tea.

1200: Checked hunting, fishing, and camping gear. Hunting rifle, shotgun and ammunition all locked in gun safe. Carrying Springfield XD .45 at all times.

Collected pond water in bucket for toilet tank. Pond holds trout and catfish. Split oak firewood into kindling.

1500: Collected batteries, flashlights, candles, lanterns, canned/bottled stove fuel, matches. Have several gallons of ethanol free gasoline (works on MSR stove). Still no sign of any other people, no traffic noise. Have seen no aircraft or contrails.

1800: Checked backpacking/camping gear. Configured survival/travel kit in Mountainsmith day pack (with integrated water bladder). Supper was canned chicken breast, 1/2 can of peaches, warm beer.

2000: Tacked-up old blankets over downstairs windows to hide light from battery lantern inside. Barricaded doors and windows on first floor using heavy furniture. Cool breeze coming through upstairs windows. Cloudy, getting dark…gone to bed.

Most useful common items during the week were: storage containers for purified water, bucket for hauling raw water, matches, blankets, plastic tubs, tarp, 550 Para-cord, washtub, camp cookware, flashlight, battery powered lantern, batteries, backpacking stove, stove fuel, firearm, ammunition, binoculars, survival knife, hatchet, pen and notebook.

In a real EMP survival scenario family members, friends, and neighbors will all need to work together to take care of short term priorities such as: water, food, fuel, sanitation, health/first aid, personal protection and home defense.

Remember that the individuals most at risk will be those who are on life support or dependent on medical devices requiring electrical power, and those on life saving medicines requiring refrigeration.

Look for more journal entries, lessons learned, and additional information about survival, and emergency preparedness at www.mountaineerwilderness.com.

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