What Would Realistically Happen If An EMP Went Off In The United States?

An EMP attack hitting the United States is a popular concept amongst members of the survivalist community.

That being said, while many people are aware of EMP attacks, far fewer people actually understand what an EMP attack is, how it works, or how it would affect the country.

Here’s some truth: an EMP attack would, without question, be one of the very worst things that could happen to the United States. If you’ve ever heard of the idea that an EMP could throw America back to the 1800s, that’s fairly accurate.

In this article, we’ll cover what an EMP is and how it works, and then what you can expect to happen if one were to go off in the United States.

What Is An EMP?

EMP stands for ‘electromagnetic pulse,’ and it’s basically a very powerful and intense pulse of electromagnetic radiation.

If this pule is powerful enough, it can fry the wiring in circuitry, and in a strong enough magnetic field, electronics can be completely destroyed by the burst.

Now, this doesn’t mean that those electronic devices are going to explode or anything.  But it does mean that the electrical components are going to get fried and, well, quit working.

Take note that an EMP is not going to be dangerous to animals, plants, or people (unless if you’re wearing something like a pacemaker or are in a moving vehicle), so you shouldn’t need to fear for your physical health when the blast goes off.  

How can an electromagnetic pulse be created? One way is through detonating a nuclear weapon high in the atmosphere. The energy created by that blast could create an electromagnetic pulse that would then be sent out in all directions.

There are also different kinds of electromagnetic pulses as well: E1, E2, and E3.

An E1 pulse is the most powerful and intense. It creates microwaves as it passes through the earth magnetic field and would most certainly cause voltages in electrical conductors as well.  This is the type of electromagnetic pulse that would fry computers and similar electronic equipment.

The E2 pulse is similar to lightning strikes, and is far less powerful than an E2 pulse. Finally, the E3 pulse is even less powerful than the E2, and is comparable to solar flares created by the sun. While E3s are still powerful enough to damage power lines and other infrastructure, they’re still not nearly as powerful as E1s.

Now that we understand what an electromagnetic pulse is, it’s time to answer the big question: what is (realistically) going to be taken out by an EMP attack?

What’s Going To Get Taken Out By An EMP?

Honestly, the answer to this question depends on a number of different factors: the type of electromagnetic pulse, how high in the atmosphere it’s detonated (the higher the device is detonated, the wider range it’s going to affect), and whether any electronic device are shielded or not.

That being said, any device that is not shielded or protected against an E1 electromagnetic pulse is likely go be either completely fried or at least damaged. These include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • The Power Grid
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Phones
  • Cell Services Towers
  • Internet Routers
  • Electronic Gun Safes 
  • TVs
  • Radios
  • Refrigerators and Freezers
  • Thermostats 
  • Electronic Banking
  • The Computerized Components of Vehicles (Cars, Planes, ATVs, Motorcycles, UTVs, etc.)
  • Pacemakers
  • Hospital Diagnostic Machines 
  • Anything With A Microchip 

Any of those above items that are going to be extremely vulnerable to an EMP.  Phones and laptops that are being housed in a metal building *might* be able to survive an E1, but it’s not at all guaranteed and you can’t count on it.

What Will An EMP Attack Look Like In The United States?

What you need to do is imagine a world where each of the items listed above are taken out instantly, because that is exactly what an EMP attack is going to do.

For instance, cars are going to quit working instantly, at least cars that were built since 1990. Planes will fall out of the sky.  Phones and laptops will be fried, and even if they weren’t, they wouldn’t do you much good without cell service or the internet.  

In essence, America will be thrown back to the Stone Ages as hundreds of millions of people across the country find themselves in a world without power.

Looting and rioting would be almost certain to develop in the hours and days following the attack across most of the major cities in America. Due to the lack of working electronic equipment, military and law enforcement would be enormously slow to respond, which is why 

What’s worse, is that such a scenario could potentially last for literally years.  It would take years, if not a full decade, for the power grid to get back up and running the way it was before, during which up to 90% of Americans could be killed by starvation, rioting, disease, dehydration, murder, and suicide.

In essence, if there’s one thing that an EMP attack would create in the United States it would be this: chaos.  And it wouldn’t be over quickly either.


Preparing for an EMP attack is something that the United States should be doing, as right now, it remains woefully underprepared.

As for you, you need to be prepared as well.   An EMP would change your world as you know it and literally transform your city into a war zone.  The supply trucks would stop, the grocery stores would become looted, and raiders would prowl the streets.  

You will need to take action to stock up on supplies, establish close alliances with people in your area for bartering and mutual protection, and to build Faraday cages to shield electronic items from the effects of an EMP.

Hopefully, this article has given you an idea of what would realistically happen if an EMP attack were to happen in the United States.  If you take anything away from this article, it’s that you need to start preparing now.

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