But what can individuals and businesses do to mitigate any impact from an EMP? For a low-level event, planning is similar to any potential calamity. Individuals should keep a few weeks of non-perishable food, water, and medicine on hand. Business interruption is obviously a key concern. An EMP event could significantly disrupt supply chains, cause cancellation of events, and limit access to basic records. Contingency planning focusing on local sourcing is important. Backups of key computer records should be made daily and stored on tape or DVD away from equipment that might be damaged in such an event. A radio with the batteries removed and stored separately, or a hand-cranked rechargeable radio, is also a recommended addition, as is some amount of cash. These elements would be very helpful in surviving a moderate EMP. However, the problem with a very large and widespread EMP event — whether natural or man-made — is the systemic damage that would be particularly dramatic if it led to power loss for weeks or months.
The impact on the global financial system of an attack on a major money center would be catastrophic, and businesses in general would face massive problems because without power, tape or disk backups of data that most companies rely on would be rendered useless and banking records could be wiped out. Thinking about dealing with your own data and equipment is something worth doing now. Electrical equipment, including computers, should ideally be unplugged when not in use rather than be kept in the always-on sleep mode prevalent today, and then restarted when turned on. Most people and enterprises will not realistically do this in our busy world, making some damage inevitable. At a minimum, then, paper records of key documents, such as bank statements and identification papers, and information should be printed monthly or at some other relevant frequency and securely stored.
In short: think analog for critical records, have good contingency plans and supplies needed for any emergency, and develop the ability to go off line if in fact warnings of a potential EMP are possible. The rest is dependent on government and security, along with the political will to take the farsighted steps necessary to prevent the possible devastation of such an attack on our electric grid. The most important step subscribers could take is in fact to pressure the US government to take the necessary action on the matter as quickly as possible.
Dee Smith is the CEO of Strategic Intelligence Group. © 2014 Dee Smith.