Preparing for an EMP

How does one plan for the event of an EMP to protect their pump and meter? I have backup syringes and SOME insulin but without refrigeration this might be mute.

At this point in time (and hopefully it will continue this way) I worry very little about the probability of an EMP (whether natural or human-made) that will adversely affect my daughter’s pump, meter, CGM, etc. occurring than I do about more common natural disasters (the big earthquake for which we are overdue here on the West coast, nuclear attack, the zombie apocalypse, etc.). I am enrolling myself and my daughter in CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training and am in the process of compiling all the stuff we will need to survive when the “big one” hits: sleeping bags, tent, water, dehydrated food, camp stove, flashlights, gun (for the zombies), portable generator, etc. along with the D necessities to keep my daughter alive: insulin (fast-acting and basal), pump supplies, pens, syringes, glucose tabs, more insulin, back-up meter, Frio pouches, and more insulin. Even without electricity, Frio pouches will keep your insulin cold enough (as long as you have water.)

Simple. I don’t.

I was a bit puzzled by “EMP.” So I guess you’re referring to an electronic magnetic pulse given off by a nuclear bomb explosion. Another more common EMP is a nearby lightening strike. I’ve read stories of sailboat electronic gear, not installed and packed in original boxes, getting fried by a nearby lightening strike. More important to us, it could permanently damage an insulin pump.

Buy a backup pump and store it inside a Faraday cage that can shield equipment from the type of EMP you’re worried about. If you are wearing a pump you can’t shield it from an EMP close enough to have an effect on it. (At least that’s my guess).

Last time I checked at Best Buy and Costco they were out of Faraday cages… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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I always wrap my pump in tin foil every day to protect it from EMP and from the government.

On a more serious note-- if you have that much faith in frio pouches I suggest you stick a thermometer inside one sometime just for the heck of it. They’re evaporative coolers-- they don’t accomplish anything that a wet rag doesn’t— in fact they are likely less effective than a wet washcloth because they are designed to retain their water for several days instead of evaporate rapidly.

I think in this case that would be because the supply currently meets demand. A lot of Faraday cages are sold under another name. One of the most common ones which can be used to protect against (most? many? some?) lightning strikes is sold under the label “automobile”.

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Thank you so much for this comment, irrational_John.

My daughter read your reply and is now demanding that I buy her an “automobile” to protect her pump from lightning strikes. :imp:

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But Frio pouches are so much more esthetically pleasing than wet washcloths. Not to mention the fact that they are not so annoyingly wet.

Seriously, though, Frio pouches are not designed to cool things down; they keep things that are already cold, cool longer via extending the evaporation time. Our Frio pouches have worked like a charm every time we put refrigerator-cold insulin vials in them and ventured out into 100+ degree heat for hours on end. Cool as a proverbial cucumber at the end of the day…

And tin foil does NOT protect against the government. I should know; I tried it. :fearful:

Wow. EMP. ElectroMagnetic Pulses (EMP). They certainly could fry your pump and your meter but frankly the majority of the types would kill you long before you got to your next meal. Think about it, close nuclear blasts, being hit by radiation, a absolutely earth destroying solar flare. These are events that should have you leaping to gulp one last donut not crawling around for a vial and syringe. I hate to be fatalistic but the majority of EMP risks are risks to your fundamental life and not your pump and meter.

That being said there are a few that you should be aware of. First, electrostatic discharge can create local EMP events, close proximity to very high energy electrical systems (motors, radars, synchrotron, scanners and other unshielded systems) and being hit by lightening. All of these things can either be avoided (like taking your pump off before an MRI) or are so rare that other risks are more likely. You are more likely to lose power at your home or have a mishap where you drop your pump/CGM and break it.

Humans are actually terrible at assessing risk. We take huge risks everyday by just driving our car but then we freak out over nuclear weapons, terrorist attacks and even just flying in an airplane. I’m not going to go through life with a fear of “what if,” I’ll be prudent, make good choices to avoid risks, but I’m not going to worry every day about a nuclear bomb in my city or an life ending solar flare. If it happens, my worry won’t have made a wit of difference

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I’m prepared for things like storms and earthquakes, but not an EMP. I think if an EMP large enough to affect my pump (and my spare pump) happened, I’d have way bigger things to worry about than going back to MDI for a bit.


Try the thermometer— I think you’ll be surprised. Things in them feel cooler than they actually are, because they’re damp… Just like a wet washcloth hanging in your shower feels quite cold when it’s actually the same temperature as the rest of the room…

They are handy, and I use them too, quite a bit… But I think the claims they make about their effectiveness border on irresponsible…

Have you found anything more effective (even a bit) outside of schlepping around a small cooler with icepacks? What’s your favorite solution?

Not really— I’m just offering a word of caution to anyone who believes their insulin is kept cool inside them… I don’t live in an area that sees especially hot temperatures. When I travel I carry pens and afrezza cartridges in a small insulated case with a single ice pack. It probably keeps things cool for 5 hours or so…

I do use a frio, often, always with a thermometer inside it as well. I’ve never seen a difference of more than 5 or so degrees from ambient. I think their claim of <77 degrees in hundred degree heat represents some very unrealistic conditions, like probably zero percent relative humidity or some other laboratory created condition that is not attainable in the real world. Just know their limitations. They aren’t magic, but anyone who just read their ads would think otherwise.

Insulin is good for a month out of the fridge. So if you are thinking you might need to store insulin for more than that without power, it wouldn’t make sense to use a Frio because they wouldn’t maintain a low enough temperature equivilent to a fridge. They are, however, great for taking insulin on a trip or out in the heat without worrying about it getting too hot.

If you want to make sure you can keep insulin cold for months on end without power, then I’d get a small fridge. You said you had a generator, or else they make portable solar panels for camping that I bet you could connect it to. I even saw a tiny pocket-sized fridge on Amazon designed for insulin that charges by USB and is designed to fit insulin pens or pen cartridges. I think it said the batteries last for eight or ten hours.

It would take a massive array of solar panels to power even a very small fridge… Plus their amperage draw isn’t continuous, with a big draw when the compressor first starts and much less as it runs continuously-- so you’d also need a pretty huge battery bank to store the power provided by the massive solar array… Just not practical. A lot of people around me live “off the grid.” I don’t— but I’m familiar with such arrangements

There are propane powered refrigerators available… And large propane storage tanks are feasible that could power a small fridge for many months… And provide fuel for lanterns, cooking etc

I’ll just stick with my tinfoil hat. It hasn’t failed me yet!

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Insulin is good for a LOT LONGER than a month. That “one month” thing is BS. Any long-term diabetic who has used insulin that’s been un-refrigerated, but NOT subjected to extreme temps, knows that insulin is hardly changed in its potency for MONTHS. Only the brainwashed think otherwise and the medical community is really good at brainwashing., If you freeze insulin or leave it in a hot, parked car for hours, you will have ruined it. But room temps aren’t going to destroy insulin for a heck of a lot longer than a month.

Don’t believe me? Let me inject you with 50 units of U100 Humalog that has been sitting for 4 months between 70 and 80 degrees. If you are right, you won’t be harmed. If I’m right, you are going to have a really bad day. Care to make that assumption that the insulin has lost it’s potency??


Yeah, I live in a high rise in the middle of downtown… Definitely not off the grid. I can’t drive so would hate living outside a large city. Hence, I don’t know much about solar power. Too bad it couldn’t power a fridge effectively. Would be convenient as a backup if it could.