An EMP is typically characterized by short bursts of electromagnetic energy across a range of frequencies.
Reporting to Congress, an EMP commission concluded that little in the private sector is hardened to withstand such an attack, and the American military has only limited protection.
Although the effects of a man-made EMP are very serious, it is considered a somewhat localized event. Depending on the strength and intensity of an EMP blast, the world could be sent into the dark ages in an instant.
The difference between a conventional nuclear attack—such as the World War II atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, at the end of the war in the Pacific with Japan—and an EMP attack is that the former destroys cities primarily; whereas, an EMP attack potentially destroys our country infrastructure as a whole and the resulting aftermath kills most Americans. According to the Journal’s editorial, “Mother of All Blackouts,” an EMP or “Electromagnetic Pulse” attack occurs “when an enemy sets off a nuclear explosion high in the Earth’s atmosphere. Depending on the size of an electromagnetic pulse, the damage caused by it could be extremely far reaching. In the end, an EMP will simply be an avenue through which humanity, as we are used to it today, will perish, and the scariest aspect of this is that an EMP can be created by our fellow man. Because the possibility of an electromagnetic pulse does exist, it is one more thing you should keep in mind when prepping. Remember that solid state electronics such as TVs, radios, and computers could be a thing of the past in the event of an EMP, so buy some books, puzzles, and other non-electronic forms of entertainment. In truth, prepping for an EMP is not going to be tremendously different than prepping for most anything else.
Although not an exact comparison, the range of frequencies experienced during an EMP is most comparable to the difference between very low frequency AM radio transmissions and the much higher FM spectrum.

According to a Wall Street Journal editorial, “China and Russia have the capability to launch an EMP weapon—and have let us know it.” However, imagine if such a weapon falls into the hands of al-Qaeda or other terrorists who are willing to commit suicide to destroy America. A high-altitude EMP blast could knock out the electrical grid in large areas of a country but it is not a global phenomenon. The electromagnetic pulse generated by the blast destroys the electronics and satellites in its field of vision. The pulse would wipe out most electronics and telecommunications, including the power grid. For example, they have been paring down our missile defenses, which are critical to protecting us against an EMP attack from which we might not recover. From years of testing, our own government also learned about the effects of a the Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) created from a nuclear blast.
This means that EMPs are capable of disrupting a large number of devices across a broad spectrum of frequencies.
What has really scared the commission members is a relatively unsophisticated EMP weapon in the hands of these terrorists.
The “Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack” (or the EMP Commission), which was created in 2000 to examine the possibility of an EMP attack and its aftermath, delivered its reports to Congress in 2004 and thereafter. One such event is an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), which is a sudden burst of electromagnetic energy. While a societal rebuild may come sooner with different types of scenarios, an electromagnetic pulse is going to be a much larger, longer lasting setback for which you will need to be mentally and physically prepared. An EMP attack, consisting of one nuclear warhead, attached to a single missile, sent off from a barge right off the eastern coast of America, could shut down much of the country and kill millions Americans in its aftermath.

Some nuclear weapons are currently being manufactured for the sole purpose of generating an EMP blast instead of physical damage caused by the explosion. In fact, one wonders why any sophisticated enemy of the United States would contemplate an attack other than with an EMP weapon.
The EMP effect can be caused by one or two things.  The first is a coronal mass ejection (CME) which is a massive burst of solar wind and magnetic fields rising above the solar corona and being released into space.
EMPs will zap the power grid, causing incidents where voltage surges uncontrollably and electrical fields change frequently to the point of instability.
Also, once transportation is done (an EMP will fry the electronics in some vehicles under some circumstances), your body will be all you have, so make sure it is capable of getting you were you need to be, whether it is on foot or bike.
EMPs are actually a common occurrence; however, most of them are very weak in nature and do not affect surrounding electronic equipment. Critical components of civilian infrastructure—especially the electrical power grid—need to be EMP-hardened. Think about what you need now and be sure you will have it should the threat of an EMP become a reality.
For the purposes of this guide EMPs refer to large scale pulse events that have the potential to permanently disable electrical and electronic devices. These are the most powerful man-made EMPs as the EMP waves are made stronger by interactions with the Earth’s magnetic field.

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