Building an EMP Survival Kit: 31 Must-Have Items, and How-To

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By Bryan Lynch •  10 min read

An EMP is one of those fickle events that can be difficult to prepare for.

Much of its effects are dependent on its strength and where it originates from.

EMP Survival Kit

This can create a problem when trying to prepare for such a situation.

The catch 22 is that most people will want to protect their electronic equipment as much as possible but at the same time, most other electronic equipment and the grid will be down. 

So, is there a point to making an EMP survival kit?

Why make an EMP Survival Kit 

To put this into perspective, here is a question I have come across frequently.

“What good is protecting your laptop (and another tech) when the means of charging it (the power grid) is taken out?”

This is a simple and great observation. I get it, my laptop survived but there is no juice to power it. So was it worth saving?

Yes and no. 

Whether or not to protect certain electronics from such an event depends on two questions. 

Firstly, did you prepare a way to power the device after an EMP?

Secondly, how is the device going to be used after the event? Or another way to ask this is, will the device serve an important function?

I’m going to quickly go through both of these questions in a little more detail. 

Power source

Not having a power source for a device is not necessarily a reason for leaving it unprotected. 

This all depends on the strength of the EMP and how far those effects reach. 

Your device may have been fried but it is possible the power grid was not hit that hard and could become functional relatively soon. 

In this case, a computer with a lot of important documents backed up could be worth saving even if there is no immediate need to use it. 

Scenario number two is that a person has prepared and shielded a backup power source.

In this case, it is certainly reasonable to protect as much equipment as possible so that it can be used after the event.

The Device’s Purpose

The second question pertains to how the device is going to be used or its purpose after an EMP. 

Considering that it takes time and money to properly shield electronics, does it make sense to use those resources to protect, say, a video game system?

Not really. 

However, a computer with documents such as family history, photos, medical information, maps, preparedness notes and procedures, recipes, survival information, etc. would come in handy during such an event. 

But ultimately you have to ask yourself…

How Do You Want To Live?

Creating an EMP survival kit and protecting electronics ultimately depends on how you want to live after such an event. Answering this will help you to determine which items to protect.

EMP Storage 

There is a lot of different sources available relating to what an EMP is, what it can do, and how to protect electronics from it. 

I am not going to delve into the specifics of EMP shielding because that has been covered a lot. And it also appears the effectiveness of protection methods varies between sources.

However, the one constant seems to be using a barrier, usually metal, that reroutes the pulse around and away from an electronic device that is insulated within the metal container. 

I suggest that if you are truly concerned about protecting your supplies against this event, take the time to thoroughly research EMP’s through credible sources. 

Building an EMP Survival Kit 

Below I am going to break up the kit into electronic items that need to be protected and non-electronic supplies.

Electronic Equipment 

  1. Computers
  2. Memory Sticks. These can hold a huge amount of information that relates to self-sufficiency and survival skills. 
  3. Phones. Consider downloading pertinent information that would be helpful while on the move, such as maps, identifying wild edibles and plants, survival methods, etc. 
  4. Walkie Talkies. When other forms of communication are down these can still be used among group members to talk.
  5. Radios 
  6. Flashlights 
  7. Medical devices. Pumps or blood sugar readers are just a few devices people may use daily. 
  8. Watches 
  9. Vehicles. Our way of life has always depended on modes of transportation for people and supplies. Modern vehicles will likely be highly susceptible to the effects of an EMP. Plan for how to protect them or plan for alternative modes of transportation. Or use a EMP-proof vehicle.
  10. Spare parts. This includes vulnerable components to vehicles and other equipment. The skills for carrying out such repairs are also essential. 
  11. Solar Panel Parts. Solar panels should survive an EMP but the system they hook up to may be vulnerable. Components of these systems should be protected, and spare parts stored away.

Non-Electronic Equipment

Remember that a strong enough EMP has the potential for people to be on their own for a very long time. Enough supplies should be stocked to last as long as possible.

Here is a general rule of thumb for figuring out what items to stock in preparation for an EMP. 

If an item requires a power source, needs to be plugged into a wall outlet, or has a digital display, there is a good chance it will not survive an EMP. But almost everything has a “manual” alternative. 

For example, a countertop coffee maker with various brewing options and plugs into an electrical outlet will most likely stop working. 

Instead, invest in a percolator or even a simple teapot that can be heated by a camp stove or over a fire. 

To help you along, below is a list of some more items to consider putting in your kit.

 Store as much clean water as possible or have an alternative source for collecting it. Be sure to store filters and purification methods as well. 

The catch is that a lot of these generators could be affected by an EMP and they are dependent on refueling, which may not happen. Due to this, you are going to want supplies on hand and the knowledge for taking care of health issues to the best of your ability. 

For cold weather make sure plenty of clothing, blankets and alternative heating sources are available. For warmer weather consider small fans that could be powered by solar power or battery. 


One area that can be easily overlooked when planning for emergencies is entertainment. 

This category is even more important during an EMP event since many people have become dependent on their phones for almost all forms of entertainment.

Some may consider the following list unnecessary or luxury items, but I would beg to differ. 

Mental and emotional health is just as important as everything else and being stuck with absolutely nothing to do is going to wear a person down quickly. 

For this category, choose items you enjoy and will keep you busy.

Here are a few ideas for things that will keep you entertained:

  1. Books. A lot of books can be bought cheaply, are easily carried around, and will keep a person busy for quite a while. 
  2. Board games. A great, fun way to relax with others. 
  3. Pen and paper. Create poems, write the great American novel, or simply doodle away. 
  4. Painting supplies. Create a work of art to hang on your wall. 
  5. Sewing supplies. Even if you do not plan on creating a new wardrobe, I’m sure there may be some socks that need to be darned. 
  6. Children’s toys. We do not want to forget the little ones. Be sure to have plenty of paper, crayons, colored pencils, blocks, or whatever else your kids like. 
  7. Puzzles. These can be frustrating but will certainly keep a person busy. Keep your fingers crossed for no missing pieces. 
  8. Arts & Crafts/DIY. Stock up on plenty of materials to complete these types of projects. Many of them are great to do in a group or with kids. 

Open Questions…

Q: Is an EMP the same thing as a CME?

A: No. While the effects are similar an EMP is designated as the by-product of a manmade nuclear explosion while a CME is an event produced by the Sun.

Q: Are EMPs harmful to humans?

A: As far as we know an EMP does not harm the human body and you may not even know when one occurs until you attempt to use a piece of technology.

Q: When an EMP happens, how much time is there to prepare?

A: Unfortunately, when an EMP happens there is no longer any time to prepare. This is due to the speed at which they travel. They can travel as fast as the speed of light which is 186,282 miles per second or 670, 615, 200 miles per hour. To put this in perspective, an EMP could travel around the world roughly seven times in one second. 

Wrapping it Up

We will not fully understand how our daily lives will be affected by an EMP until it happens. But we do know that such an event has the potential for causing devastation and setting our way of life back a few hundred years.

The Sun can produce similar effects to an EMP and has done so in the past. 

I bring this up not to scare you but to better inform you of the dangers of being heavily dependent on modern technology.

To me, it would be scarier not to be prepared for such an event than to actively take an interest and role in protecting your ability to be self-sufficient. 

By learning new skills and having some supplies on hand, you will be much more comfortable no matter what storm blows your way. 

What are your thoughts on EMPs? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know. Thanks for reading and stay prepared! 

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.