State warns on EMP: ‘There’s no help coming’

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed legislation to require the state’s Department of Emergency and Military Affairs to prepare materials outlining what citizens need to know to deal with either a natural or man-made electromagnetic pulse event that could knock out the vulnerable electrical grid system over a wide geographical region.

The legislation, SB 1476, was introduced by Sen. David Farnsworth, R-Mesa. It includes the type and quantity of food, water and medical supplies that each person should stockpile in case an EMP occurs over the U.S.

The legislation, however, doesn’t require actual hardening of the grid within the state.

“In our lifetimes the emergencies we’ve seen have been local emergencies, and really all we have to do is be prepared enough to hang on until help arrives,” Farnsworth said at the time he introduced it last February. “With an EMP, there’s no help coming.”

Under the legislation that now is law, the Arizona Division of Emergency Management is to post on its website recommendations such as the type and amount of supplies residents should stockpile to be prepared for an EMP event.

Farnsworth’s more immediate concern was the prospect of an EMP triggered by the detonation of a high-altitude nuclear weapon. The EMP would have the effect of knocking out the vulnerable grid system and any unprotected electronics.

“My hope is that by bringing this out, we’ll start discussions and come to the realization that as a government we can’t feed all these people, but as responsible citizens we need to do our part and make individual preparations,” he said at the time he introduced the legislation.

A co-sponsor of the legislation, Don Shooter, R-Yuma, had criticized the federal government for not taking a similar public education program.

“It’s too expensive for the government to prepare on a national scale,” Shooter said. “This time around, it’s people who can do the most to prepare. It’s even possible to EMP-proof your electronics. It just takes time.”

Shooter said the threat of an EMP event may be small, but “if it ever does happen, most people won’t be prepared. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and warn them now. God puts a watchman on the tower for times like these.”
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