A solar storm survival guide will let you coast through one of these bursts of radiation emanating from the surface of the sun. When directed at the Earth, these storms can cause significant electrical disruptions and interference with all manner of electronic devices. Seemingly random, is there anything you can do to protect yourself and your property from these acts of God? Luckily, there are steps one can take to limit the impact of solar storms.
Read on below for a brief explanation of what solar storms are and how best to protect yourself from their inconvenient, and downright dangerous, consequences.
A Brief Explainer: Solar Storms
Solar storms are caused by sudden increases and ejections of various types of radiation from the surface of the sun. As described in some solar-related books, solar flares and coronal mass ejections, forms of solar storms, threaten the stability and functionality of mankind’s electrical and electronic networks. When these bursts of radiation are large enough and come into contact with Earth’s magnetosphere, they can cause havoc with electronics all over the planet.
The largest recorded solar storm, known as the Carrington Event, disrupted planetary communications on a global scale in 1859. Visible from tropical regions, the storm electrically shocked telegraph operators when it happened.
The phenomena, while not rare, do not frequently affect the Earth because perfect alignment between the sun, the Earth, and the solar storm are exceedingly uncommon. More often, observed radiation bursts from the surface of the sun are directed out into space or past the Earth. Even so, it pays to be prepared in the event that the stars align (literally) and Earth is struck by a sudden and intense burst of solar radiation.
How to Protect Yourself
Preparedness is the name of the game in solar storm protection. Since there’s no way to reliably predict when or where exactly a solar storm will occur, or how powerful it will be, it pays to be ready for these unpredictable events. And solar blinds won’t cut the mustard!
Keep an Eye on the News
While the exact timing of a solar storm can’t be predicted with any certainty, periods of increased solar activity (visible with cameras protected by solar filters) can and are regularly predicted and publicized. These times are associated with increased risk of solar storms and it would be prudent to observe the tips found in this article especially closely during those times.
One of the best ways to remain prepared for a sudden influx of solar radiation is to have an adequate supply of backup power in the event of an emergency. A sufficiently powerful solar storm will knock out your primary source of power for a significant period of time. During that time, while you might be able to get by without your optional conveniences, the necessities would need to be powered by an alternate source of power.
Ensure that your refrigerator, your home’s heating, and cooling systems, and a few lights are all connected to sufficient backup power to keep them up and running for as long as possible.
This tip isn’t directly connected to energy or power but it remains effective nonetheless. Even if you have sufficient backup power to carry you through an extended outage, you’ll want to keep a sufficient amount of emergency supplies handy. First aid products, flashlights, batteries, food, a solar blanket, and, most importantly, water, will help you survive an unexpected event with minor inconvenience or harm.
The handiest part of following this advice is that you’ll be protecting yourself against all manner of unexpected events and not just solar storms. Myriad causes of extended blackouts exist, and you never know when you’ll find yourself in need of some clean water and bandages.
Not all solar storms will immediately knock out all power to the electrical grid for days at a time. Some storms are less powerful, but sufficiently disruptive to cause large spikes in current to flow through power outlets and into electronic devices. In order to prevent significant damage to these devices, you’ll want to protect them with a surge protector.
Sold at all electronic and home supply stores and otherwise known as “power bars,” surge protectors act as a last line of defense against fluctuations in power flowing through the electrical system. As solar eclipse glasses are to your eyes, surge protectors are to your electronic devices. Not just useful for solar storms, surge protectors prevent your electronics from damage caused by becoming overloaded with electricity in any situation (as long as the current doesn’t exceed the capacity of the surge protector.
A Faraday Cage
The ultimate in protection, a Faraday cage is a metallic or conductive enclosure that does not allow free-flowing radiation inside. Any grounded and conductive material will suffice when constructing a Faraday cage. The principle is simple. When electromagnetic radiation strikes the outside of the enclosure, the current created flows through the electrically conductive outside and into the ground, rather than through the enclosure itself.
Any sensitive electronic device can be placed inside a Faraday cage and be kept completely safe from solar storms. Now, this is a rather extreme solution, as the devices cannot be used once inside the cage. So these are best to utilize when and if you receive a warning of increased solar activity likely to result in a solar storm.
No protection is perfect when it comes to a phenomenon as powerful and unpredictable as solar storms. Contrary to the beliefs of some, these storms are not associated with solar eclipses. But this solar storm survival guide has shown you the steps that can be taken to minimize your exposure to the inconvenience and danger posed by them. Install a reliable backup power strategy that will withstand a burst of solar radiation and connect it to all important devices you can’t live without. Connect surge protectors to all of the devices in your home to prevent disruption caused by more minor solar storms (and other sources of power spikes). Keep emergency supplies on hand in case of unexpected events. And, finally, if you absolutely must protect a device from damage caused by a solar storm, utilize a Faraday cage to insulate the product from disruptive radiation.