Would Walkie-Talkies Work After an EMP Attack?

In a world heavily reliant on advanced technology, the potential threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack has become a topic of concern. An EMP is a burst of electromagnetic radiation that can disrupt or destroy electronic devices and power grids, plunging an affected area into darkness. In such a scenario, where communication systems are compromised, would walkie-talkies remain operational? In this article, we will explore the functioning of walkie-talkies and assess their potential to withstand the effects of an EMP attack.

Understanding EMPs

EMP attacks can be caused by various means, including nuclear explosions, solar flares, or deliberate electronic devices. When an EMP occurs, it emits a high-intensity burst of electromagnetic energy, which induces strong electrical currents in conductive materials. These currents can overload and damage electronic circuits, rendering most modern devices useless.

Walkie-Talkies: Basic Functioning

Walkie-talkies, also known as two-way radios, are portable handheld devices used for short-range wireless communication. They operate on specific radio frequencies and consist of a transmitter and a receiver within the same device. The transmitter converts sound waves from the user’s voice into radio waves, which are then transmitted through the antenna. The receiver, on the other hand, captures incoming radio waves and converts them back into sound for the user to hear.

EMP Resilience of Walkie-Talkies

One of the key advantages of walkie-talkies is their simplicity and relative lack of reliance on complex electronic systems. Unlike smartphones or computers, they do not require a centralized infrastructure or internet connectivity to function. This inherent simplicity gives them a potential advantage when it comes to withstanding the effects of an EMP attack.

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Walkie-talkies are typically designed to operate in the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) or Very High Frequency (VHF) bands. These frequency ranges are lower and less susceptible to EMP damage compared to higher frequency bands used by more advanced communication technologies.

Furthermore, walkie-talkies often utilize relatively low-power transmitters, which may reduce their vulnerability to EMP effects. Lower power levels can result in reduced susceptibility to electromagnetic interference. However, the extent to which this factor protects walkie-talkies from EMP damage can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the attack.

Practical Considerations

While walkie-talkies may have a better chance of surviving an EMP attack compared to more complex electronic devices, several practical considerations need to be addressed:

  1. EMP Severity: The impact of an EMP attack can vary significantly depending on the proximity to the source and the power of the burst. A particularly intense EMP event could still damage or destroy even low-power devices like walkie-talkies.
  2. Power Source: Walkie-talkies typically rely on batteries for operation. In the event of an EMP attack, if the batteries are unaffected, the device should continue to function. However, if the power source is damaged or drained, the walkie-talkie would be rendered useless.
  3. Infrastructure Damage: Even if walkie-talkies remain operational, their usefulness depends on the state of the surrounding infrastructure. If the EMP attack causes widespread damage to power grids, cell towers, or other communication infrastructure, the range and effectiveness of walkie-talkies may be limited.


While walkie-talkies may have some inherent advantages when it comes to surviving an EMP attack compared to more complex electronic devices, their functionality after such an event is not guaranteed. The ability of walkie-talkies to operate largely depends on the severity of the EMP, the condition of their power source, and the availability of supporting infrastructure. In any case, it is prudent to have alternative communication methods and emergency plans in place to ensure effective communication in the aftermath of an EMP attack or any other disaster scenario

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