What is an Electronic Magnetic Pulse and How Can it Affect Your Phone?
Threats of terrorism are nothing new, but it’s still frightening to think that it’s possible – especially when the weapon in question is something that can debilitate the whole country.
We’re talking about an EMP blast and its effects on the electrical lines. The White House is now establishing countermeasures to safeguard the country against an attack like that.
Although Americans are becoming familiar with it, they still have lots to learn about it. This includes its effects on smartphones and similar devices.
Read on below to learn what an electronic magnetic pulse is and why can it cause severe damages.
What is an EMP?
An electromagnetic pulse (or EMP) is a burst of electromagnetic energy caused by natural or man-made reactions. People also refer to it as a transient electromagnetic disturbance.
It’s one of the terrifying effects of a nuclear explosion, alongside a burning flash of light, a blast wave, and the resulting radioactive fallout. Depending on its power, it can affect electronic equipment miles away from the blast. It can disrupt or even disable them, which renders devices like smartphones useless.
What Devices Does It Damage?
An EMP attack can deal permanent damage to devices when detonated high up in the atmosphere. Depending on how strong it is and the device’s proximity to the blast, an EMP can destroy:
- Vehicle control systems
- Electric grid
In general, expect it to fry all the electronics within its range. That’s because it creates a strong current within them, causing it to short-circuit or causing the parts to melt together, breaking their function.
The bigger, more complicated electronics will suffer the most. Computers, for example, have copper wires that can act as antennas. These will attract and absorb the EMP.
Surge protectors will be useless in the face of a massive electrical surge in the power lines. Any appliance and device connected to it will experience its effects, as well.
Some things may survive, though. Cars with lower technology, especially the pre-1970s ones, are likely to continue working.
Airplanes are less likely to fall out of the sky as their metal casing can act as protection. In fact, it deals with bolts of lightning on a regular basis. The newer ones now even have specialized EMP shieldings.
How Does an Electronic Magnetic Pulse Affect Smartphones?
The biggest threat of an EMP attack is not its effects on your television. It’s the devastating aftermath on the electric grid.
The effect of EMP is not unlike those of a geomagnetic storm. It can shut down power transformers, causing power grids across the nation to go down. This means that electricity, internet, telephones, and more are going to be useless even if the devices survive the EMP.
Some cell networks are off the grid, which may pose a bit of hope. Cellular towers are going solar or diesel, but the numbers might not be enough to keep the communications reliable enough. By 2013, less than 1% of cell sites in the U.S. aren’t connected to the power grid.
If, by chance, networks continue to work after an attack, the service isn’t going to be stable. Loads of people trying to make calls via the remaining cell sites might overload the network.
With no way to contact other people and know what’s happening, citizens could fall into disarray in no time. It will be hard for the government to calm down its residents who have no idea what’s going on.
As EMP grows more familiar as a possible threat to American citizens, however, many are more educated today on preparedness against such an attack. Due to the threats of a nuclear war soon, people have to learn how to protect their electronic devices.
Protecting Your Phone (And Other Devices)
We now know that EMP and phones don’t go well together, but there are ways to protect any device from it. Turning it off isn’t enough; you have to put up a shield around it so that the blast won’t reach it. If your phone survives, you may still be able to use it after an EMP attack, provided that you can get a signal.
You can do this by building a Faraday Cage big enough to hold the machine or device you want to protect. In this case, it’s something as small as a cellphone.
You can buy a ready-made pouch off Amazon, but make sure it has high protection ratings. You can make one, though, because a Faraday Cage is only a fortified metal container.
How to Make a Faraday Cage
A sheet of foil will work, but make sure the device inside isn’t touching the foil. Insulate it using a cardboard box, paper, or cloth. Any non-conductive material you have on hand will do.
Some people suggest wrapping it with at least 5 layers of foil. Others recommend putting it inside another layer of protection instead. If you want to do the latter, get a bigger metal container, line it with a non-conductive material, and then put the device you packed in foil inside.
A metal garbage can is a popular choice for this as it’s big enough to hold bigger devices and its material is perfect for a Faraday Cage. Choose one that has a tight-fitting lid, though.
You don’t want any gap in your Faraday Cage, else it will lose its function as a shield. Use duct tape to keep the lid in place and seal off any gaps. Be careful not to get the tape in-between the lid and the container – those two have to touch metal-to-metal.
For cars, you can have custom-made Faraday cages, but they will cost a pretty penny. It will ensure, however, that the devices inside will still work after an attack.
Learn More About the Dangers of EMP
An electronic magnetic pulse attack is a threat that seems to be getting more possible day by day. To protect yourself from it, you have to educate yourself about its possibilities.
Prepare yourself by checking our other guides and learning more about EMPs today!