You’ve probably heard more and more about solar flares in recent years, and the threat they pose to modern life. NASA has warned of increased solar flares and the potential damage they could cause. But what exactly are they, and how can we prepare for them?
What are solar flares?
‘Solar flare’ is a blanket term for something called a coronal mass ejection, or CME. The solar flare itself isn’t actually the threat, its the CME, which is a mass of super-charged, high-intensity radiation that erupts from the solar flare and essentially shoots out into outer space, to use the most simplistic terms. They occur frequently, but the sun’s mass is so large that it’s not often our little planet is in the way of them-but it can happen, and has.
In 1859, the earth was affected by the largest known CME. This event is known as the “Carrington Event”, and the world’s premier solar astronomer at the time witnessed a blinding white light appearing over some sun spots-something he’d never seen on his solar telescopes-but it only lasted a few moments. The next day, incredible auroras were witnessed all over the planet, even as far south as Cuba, El Salvador, Hawaii, the Bahamas and Jamaica. During this time, telegraph systems suddenly went haywire, some even catching on fire.
What threat do they post?
The telegraph was about the most technologically advanced communication system in 1859-can you imagine what a solar flare could do to planet earth today? Such a massive field of super-charged radiation would knock satellites out of orbit, crash all our communication systems which means electric grids, water treatment facilities, planes would not be able to land, the entire globe could theoretically be knocked back to the stone age.
How to prepare?
Preparing for a solar flare is the same as preparing for any crisis-stock up on food, water, batteries, lamp oil, blankets, tools and self-defense weapons. If a solar flare strikes, you’ll need a plan that is not reliant upon the modern grid in any way. There’s no way of knowing how long a crisis of that magnitude would last. You should be preparing for that kind of crisis to begin with, really, preparing for self-sufficiency instead of short-term survival is always ideal.
What will you need?
For a solar flare in particular, a ham radio could come in very handy. There are different degrees of damage a solar flare could do, and with national or global communications down, it could be very important to get some idea of the extent of the damage by communicating with others via ham radio.
Alternate transportation if you live in a city. Something like a bike, gas-powered scooter, motorcycle, anything that could get you out of the city and away from the chaos, as well as a plan of where to go, could be very crucial. Cities will be the most dramatically affected.
And wherever you live, as with any disaster, protection is also crucial. People will be panicked, unprepared-and possibly opportunistic. Self-defense is always key, for both yourself and your family, and your survival stash.