What is an EMP? EMP stands for Electromagnetic Pulse. An EMP is typically generated by the detonation of a nuclear weapon.
According to a US Army report from 1994, one single high-altitude detonation has the potential to generate an electromagnetic pulse capable of covering the entire continental United States.
EMPs are not harmful to humans, but have the potential to disrupt and destroy electronic devices such as radios, cell phones, digital cameras, computers, tablet PCs, and e-readers. Medical devices such as insulin meters and injection systems are also susceptible. In addition, an EMP will most likely disrupt critical infrastructure.
So how can you protect your devices? You can spend hundreds of dollars on “EMP protection” bags, boxes, etc, or you can construct your own for a fraction of the cost.
The key is to construct a Faraday Cage. A Faraday Cage will prevent all electromagnetic signals and pulses from entering or exiting the container. While many Faraday Cages are made from expensive copper mesh boxes, a smaller Faraday Cage can be made using materials found in the grocery store.
The EMP protection bag consists of two layers:
- Conductive Layer
- Non-Conductive Insulation Layer
Materials you’ll need:
- Resealable plastic storage bags (vacuum seal bags work best)
- Heavy duty aluminum foil
- Freezer Tape
How the bag works (Warning: Science Content!)
- Since the foil is conductive and creates a closed loop around the contents, any electrical pulse (such as an EMP) or transmission (such as radio waves) coming in contact with the bag will be “channeled” around the bag’s contents (see http://science.howstuffworks.com/faraday-cage.htm)
- Any static charge will be unable to reach the bag’s contents due to the non-conductive insulation layer.
First, determine the size of the item you want to protect. Normally your item will fit inside either a quart or gallon bag. Purchase the appropriate size bags. The pictures you see here will illustrate an “emergency” bag which you can keep with you and use to protect your cell phone in an attack, but the procedures for creating a long-term storage bag are nearly identical.
If possible, make sure you are not working in an extremely low or extremely high humidity environment. Low humidity will result in static electricity, potentially shorting out your electronic device. High humidity will result in moisture within the electronic device, also capable of shorting out the device.
If this is for a short storage in an “emergency” bag, the item can remain powered on. For long term storage, power-off the electronic device, as heat will build up inside the bag and possibly damage the device. Insert the device into the resealable bag. Then gently squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag while sealing the bag. If the bag is a vacuum bag, remove all of the air from the bag using a vacuum pump.
Cut a piece of aluminum foil which is larger than the plastic bag by at least 1 inch on each side, and three times the length of the plastic bag.
Place “tape rolls” on one side of the plastic bag, and tape the bag to the aluminum foil so that the bottom of the bag is even with the middle of the foil, as shown.
Once the bag is taped to the foil on one side, place additional tape rolls on the exposed side of the plastic bag, then carefully fold over the foil.
Fold the sides of the aluminum foil to completely enclose the bag, except for the top opening. Make sure to create a complete “seal” with the aluminum foil. If this is for long term storage, go ahead and seal the top using the same method.
Instructions for using the emergency bag:
- Place the item in the emergency bag
- Seal the plastic bag inside
- Tightly roll shut the foil
After the aluminum foil has been applied and sealed, the device should be fully protected. If you’re testing your emergency bag, place your cell phone inside the bag and roll the bag shut. Now dial your cell phone from another phone. The cell phone should not have a signal if the protection bag is effective.
Another emergency protection you can take is unplug a microwave, place your electronic device inside the microwave, and close the door. The microwave acts much like a Faraday Cage, so that microwaves do not escape while cooking food.
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© 2011, Rourke. All rights reserved.