Imagine living in a world without light. Few of us have ever experienced true darkness. Even if you go out at night, there are street lamps illuminating your path. Go into the wilderness and chances are that even there you’ve still got light pollution increasing visibility. So, in the aftermath of an EMP blast which would take down the entire grid, many of us would find ourselves lost in the darkness. Do you know how you will provide light after an EMP event?
Can We Go without Light?
One could argue that we don’t really need light to survive. In many ways, this is very true. After the initial chaos following an EMP event would die down, people would adapt to life without light (though who knows how long this would take). In many ways, it would be healthier to live without artificial light because our circadian rhythm would get back in sync with natural light and darkness.
If you were to bug out in the wilderness somewhere away from people, then going without light wouldn’t be much of a problem. But the reality is that not everyone can bug out. Even if we wanted to, there are simply too many people on earth and we’d end up forming communities.
Light is one of the core technological inventions which allowed human civilization to develop. Or, as this article refers to it, “the lifeblood of civilization.” Thanks to electricity and lighting, we are able to do things like spend more time on self-improvement activities in the evenings (like reading a book or learning something). Thanks to lighting, we are able to keep our streets safer – not just from predators like thieves and rapists, but from smaller risks like tripping in a pothole in the dark. Thanks to light, our chances of survival against the elements is greatly increased.
And this is only light we are talking about. An EMP blast would cause total grid failure, which means we wouldn’t have heating, communications, modern cooking, or other building blocks of civilization.
The effects would be devastating.
You don’t have to have a complete home lighting system in the aftermath of an EMP attack (or other disaster that takes the grid down). But having a reliable lighting source will greatly increase your chances of surviving EMP.
Solar Power Systems and EMP
I am a huge advocate for home solar systems as a reliable source of energy, and also as a way of being more self-sustainable so you don’t have to rely on Big Government for your energy needs.
But solar panels aren’t immune to EMP.
According to Solar Industry Mag, in the event of EMP from a solar flare, the solar panels themselves would be okay because this type of EMP is only a threat to large transformers. But, in event of an EMP blast from a nuclear attack or EMP weapon, even the solar panels themselves are going to get fried.
As Heat My Home points out, even if your solar panels do survive the EMP blast, the fact is that the circuit-based technologies around your home (i.e. anything running on electricity) would be fried. So your solar system would be useless. Many solar systems are connected to the city’s system, so they would be fried in this sense too.
If you have an independent solar system which is not connected to the city system, then you can protect it. You will need to encase your inverter inside a Faraday cage, and take steps to protect the panels and circuitry as well. Here is one good article about how to protect solar gear from EMP, and this article also has good instructions for protecting solar rooftops from EMP.
Flashlights and EMP
There is a lot of debate about whether flashlights would survive an EMP blast. Some say that flashlights would survive because the EMP wave would first pass through the electrical grid, which would channel most of the energy. If the flashlight was turned off, then it wouldn’t be harmed.
However, others argue that flashlights would be destroyed by EMP – even if they were turned off. The pulse could travel to the flashlight and cause a surge in voltage so high that the flashlight would fry. Even the LED or incandescent bulb could be destroyed by the surge!
The truth is that we really don’t know what would happen in an EMP blast. There have only been limited tests on the effects of EMP (and thank God for that! As if we need the government launching nukes on our own soil again!).
During a small EMP event, flashlights would probably be safe, especially if they were turned off.
During a larger EMP event, a metal flashlight might be okay since the metal would act like a shield. But the lens side would be more vulnerable, so the flashlight might be okay if the lens was pointed away from the incoming pulse. Again, we don’t really know what would happen… which is why we should take the precaution of protecting emergency flashlights in an EMP bag or Faraday cage.
EMP bags work by covering your electronics in a layer of metal sandwiched between layers of boPET polyester film. The idea is that the EMP hits the metal in the bag and is channeled away from the electronics. A Faraday cage works in a similar way. The outside of the cage is made from a conductive material, so the EMP charge is sent around the cage and not inside of it.
Candles, Oil Lamps, and Other EMP-Proof Lighting Options
When the grid goes down, the only truly reliable forms of lighting are the ones which do not require any electricity at all. I still recommend putting your emergency flashlights in an EMP bag (can you imagine yourself fleeing at night while holding onto an oil lamp?). But it is still good practice to have lots of candles and oil lamps in with your survival supplies.
And what if you run out of candles and oil for your lamp? Here are some good instructions on how to make your own:
- Bacon fat candle instructions
- Make candles from old crayons
- Tuna can oil lamp
- Vegetable oil lamp instructions