Effects of EMP on Human Body

Effects of EMP

Please note that the chances of you experiencing an EMP event are very low but nonetheless real.

Most of the direct effects of EMP do NOT require an emergency medical response. That is, unless you are touching something metal or holding an electrical appliance at the time of the pulse. In that case you may suffer something like a lethal lightning strike, in which case you would be beyond medical care. An ElectroMagnetic Pulse can produce peak voltages of 50,000 volts per meter and hundreds of amps.

Does EMP affect human beings?

Not directly but let’s look at possible areas of concern. Nerve cells operate at a voltage of about 0.1 volt between the inside and outside of the cells, which are separated by a double layer membrane about 0.1 micrometer thick. This membrane gives the cells insulation that would take a voltage in excess of 1MV per meter to breakdown. Since EMP voltages peak around 50KV even an intense EMP event would not cause a breakdown of the cell membranes.

The triggering time of a nerve impulse is about 1-2 milliseconds, while the initial pulse of an EMP is about 1 nanosecond, or about 1 million times shorter. This suggests that EMP would not cause false triggering of neurons. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_potential)

EMP would not kill or injure most people directly. The damage would come from destroying the computers and electrical networks which today hold our society together.

Immediate effects of EMP

  • Aircraft would lose computer control and fall from the sky. Occupants of those planes would die as well as those that the planes fall on.
  • Many vehicles on the highway that were about to inter turns or curves would lose control causing numerous accidents. Most vehicles would just coast to a stop stranding those within and blocking highways.
  • Those people who depend on electrical power for life support would die. (pacemakers, oxygen machines, feeding machines, breathing machines, those undergoing medical operations, etc.)
  • Many fires would be started as hundreds of amps pass through metal. The longer the metal the stronger the current buildup.
  • The electric power grid fails as transformers and generators burn out from the pulse. Government estimates on repair of the power grid range anywhere from 2 to 10 years.
  • Most police and firefighter lose communications.
  • Cell and landline phone service burns out.
  • Internet disappears.

Effects of EMP in first week

  • Crime explodes as no one can phone for help, police have no communication and cars no longer operate.
  • Fires burn out of control as fire trucks no longer operate.

Effects of EMP in first month

  • Nuclear power plants run out of backup fuel used to circulate water in the cooling ponds where spent reactor fuel rods are stored. Nuclear power plants are only required to store 4 weeks of backup fuel. After that runs out the spent fuel rods start melting down causing many Chernobyls.
  • Loss of control in dams and locks causes chain reaction flooding along river ways.
  • If winter time, the lack of electric furnaces will result in many people freezing to death.
  • Without electricity and transportation food deliveries stop and people start starving to death or turning to cannibalism.

Although the chances of an EMP event are very low the consequences are significant. When you think about this, what would you add to this article?

Feedback about EMP

What can I do to keep my children safe?
Date: 5/11/2015
When president Putin attacks the U.S. with an emp what will I expect. I believe it will happen soon, within 2 years at most. What can I do to keep my children safe? You say LOW chances, I say no, soon. interested in your thoughts.


AskDocWeb: How safe you can keep your children after an EMP event will depend first on where you live as well as a number of other factors. Let’s list the top 10 of these along with questions you will need to ask yourself and discuss with your family regarding these matters.

1. The higher the population density the less likely you and your children will survive. What will your neighbors do when they run out of food? How far is your property from the nearest city of more than 5,000 people?

2. What are the winter lows and summer high temperatures? How will you heat and/or cool your home without electricity?

3. With no food being delivered, will the land around you grow enough crops to keep your family fed?

4. Do you have the tools and skills required to grow your own food without electricity?

5. How many “friendly neighbors” live near your property? Who are these people? Are they like-minded or do they pose a danger? Are there gangs of thugs in the area?

6. How defensible is your property, and how easily can you escape from it if it becomes indefensible?

7. Do you have a place to run to immediately with water, food and/shelter if your home becomes a burned-out ruin?

8. What are the wind drift patterns that will carry fallout from burning fuel rods at nuke plants?

9. Weapons: what is allowed, what is not, is there open or concealed carry, and limitations on ownership? Do you have the skill to use them and practice regularly?

10. Personal Family Details: Do you have one or more family members with exceptional medical needs? You must take into account and plan for the most vulnerable family member’s needs.

There are many more variables to consider than those listed here but this will get you started. Surviving a grid down situation would require moving as well as a drastic change in lifestyle and most people would not make it. Our own government estimates that we would lose 80 to 90 percent of the population within the first year. We think that makes EMP the number one threat to our way of life and that threat is growing every year.

EMP Feedback

Date: 9/22/2015
EMP preparedness, awareness. Very sobering.


AskDocWeb: The consequences of an EMP event are so overwhelming that most people are in denial and refuse to take it seriously. Even a small amount of preparedness would avoid a huge amount of suffering if the event were to take place.

Internal conductors
Date: 6/9/2016
What about EMP and those who have i.e. knee or shoulder or hip prosthetics?? Wouldn’t these be internal conductors and receive tissue damage and/or burns??


AskDocWeb: There are a lot of people with metal in their bodies and this is a question that really needs to be answered. Unfortunately the ?Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack? did not address the issue of EMP effects on the human body. In addition to knee, shoulder and hip prosthesis, we are looking into the possible effects of EMP on dental implants, dental fillings, pacemakers, cardiac stents, implanted metal pins/screws, metal plates implanted in the skull, intrauterine devices (IUDs), cervical disks , spinal cages and spacers. We’ll keep you posted as we find out more.

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