This last weekend, we were challenged to do a mock emergency drill, pretending that our water was contaminated and the electricity was out for two days. Some also pretended their houses were destroyed.

We debated doing it for the full 48 hours or just one day. Eventually we settled on one day, and by the end of the day, with a sink full of dishes and a lot of our water gone, I’m glad we did.

We still learned a lot. Here’s what I learned:

  1. I am spoiled. Living out of 5-gallon drums of water reminded me so much of my mission. I always had indoor plumbing, but not everyone I met did. We live like kings and queens. It would be life-changing to enable people to get plumbing.

  2. A lot of emergency preparedness focuses on eating and drinking, which is important. I found that cooking food was easy enough, but cleaning is hard without plumbed water. Doing dishes takes a lot of water (at least for my inept hands). Doing laundry and dishes by hand would be a full time job. I’d love to figure out a better way to do these. In the meantime, we now have an emergency supply of disposable plates and utensils (it was my first purchase after the event).

  3. Having another person helps a lot. Washing your hands with a bottle of water or jug is a lot easier when someone else can pour the water over your hands.

  4. We don’t have enough water. We used about 10 gallons in 24 hours. We need more gallons.

  5. I like 5 gallon containers much more than 50 gallon barrels. This is probably a preference thing, but the smaller size is much more manageable for me and my family. We’re going to slowly replace our large barrel with smaller containers (even though it will probably end up costing more).

  6. I sure missed the garbage disposal.

  7. We should get at least a small solar panel for charging electronics and lights.

  8. We are going to look into solar power/generators for powering the ceiling fan, garage door, porch lights, etc..

  9. If you’re walking by flashlight, clean up toys before dark.

  10. It’s good that I hide things from my children. When the disaster struck, they all gathered their flashlights. … so for Christmas, my dad gave all his grandchildren flashlights and said, “These batteries will last forever.” I think he’s forgotten how children use flashlights. Anyway, after no one’s flashlight worked, I went to my secret stash of flashlights and everyone was grateful.

  11. I need to always have a stack of books I haven’t read yet.

  12. Our piano is electric, but the ukulele isn’t.

  13. I’m glad we have windows. And I was surprised how cool our house stayed by opening windows in the morning and keeping the blinds shut during the day.

I’m glad we did this drill. We’ve already made some changes and are looking forward to trying it again next year.