Lots of minimalism blogs advise you to prioritize your material possessions according to what you would take in case of emergency. Your house is on fire, you have five minutes evacuate. What are the essential necessities in your life that you would grab on your way out? How would you feel about the rest being lost in the fire? Would you miss anything?
Once in a while I would mention this to my husband and we would tell each other what the most important things each of us would grab would be. We came up with passports, the folder with our important certificates, my laptop and hard drive (because of my work data and our photos). The only truly sentimental items that we would grab were, for me, a book that is very important to me, in the eighth edition from 1899 passed down by my family (and no, it is not the bible ;)). He said he would get our pets (we have snakes).
Fast forward to yesterday night, 2am, the door bell ringing like crazy. Half asleep my husband opened the window to see who it was, and saw five fire trucks, police cars, and several ambulances in front of our building complex. A fireman yelled at him, we should evacuate our flat and get out as fast as possible. No explanation why.
So, this is what we took with us:
Laptop and hard drive, Laptop charger
Folder with important documents
that was about everything from the list we could manage to do in five minutes, additionally to getting dressed.
My husband was more concerned about me getting dressed in enough layers of clothing than getting the pets packed up because it was freezing cold outside.
I was more concerned about grabbing our cell phones and chargers in order to communicate (possibly calling for a hotel room), and collecting our bank cards in (order to have access to our accounts) than taking my book with me.
Then we went out.
Luckily, there was no fire in the building, but instead high concentrations of carbon monoxide (which is dangerous enough by itself). The wind had somehow blown the gases from the heaters inside all flats, threatening at least 20 parties in the building. We were relieved to be able to return after the issue had been taken care of the next morning.
So, would we miss the sentimental items we didn’t manage to take? I think the preliminary answer is yes, a lot. But they aren’t necessities.