The Only 9 Things You'd Really Need If You Lost Everything


When you think about your worst fear or nightmare, what comes to mind? Radioactive spiders, bats, and snakes in Australia that are going to eat you alive? Maryland drivers? Florida voters? Daydreaming about those last few Double Stuf Oreos in your pantry, only to come home from work to find that your roommate/spouse/children/future murder victim with whom you live just polished them off?

That all sounds like the pits, but life can be even crueler.

To put things into perspective, those prospects pale in comparison to losing your home and worldly possessions to financial ruin or, God forbid, a disaster event like fire, flood, or earthquake. We all hope it never happens to us, but it can, and if we're not prepared, the fallout can be even more stressful that it needs to be.

So you can weather whatever storm comes your way — but let's hope it never does — as long as you have nine things. (See also: How to Survive the 5 Most Common Emergency Situations)

1. Food and Water

Above all else, the most important thing you need in your life is sustenance. You can live without food for a while, but you won't make it very long without water. I have a stash of clean water and food with me wherever I am — I keep rations in my homes and in my car — in case of emergencies. Of course, if those rations are destroyed by circumstances out of your control, you can find provisions elsewhere, like at a loved one's place or a shelter that operates specifically to provide nourishment.

2. A Support Network

It's important, in times of crisis, to have a solid support network of people on whom you can rely. Perhaps you need a shoulder to cry on, or maybe you need a warm bed or couch to crash on while you work to bring things back to normal. Whatever your situation, it helps to have a friend or two who can be your pillars of strength and hope when all else seems bleak.

3. Proper Identification

In the event of a disaster where you'll need government aid — like a Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy situation, for instance, where FEMA rolls in — the process will go a lot smoother, and you'll get what you need quicker, with proper identification. Understandably, these tangible items can be destroyed along with everything else, which is why it's a good idea to make photocopies of these important identifying documents just in case, and then leave the photocopies with someone you trust like your parents or siblings who live in another — area.

4. Some Form of Currency

Since the beginning of civilization, things that we need or want have come with a price tag. It's not always a monetary value — booze, livestock, and other commodities have served as currency at one time or another — but most things cost something. Today, of course, we use cash, debit cards, and credit cards for nearly everything, so you'll want to keep an emergency stash of cash in your wallet, or a credit card in a safe deposit box or another accessible and protected place where you can access it when needed.

5. Access to Your Legal and Financial Documents

If you've lost everything, one of the first phone calls you'll want to make is to your insurance company. You pay a premium to get your affairs in order and your life back on track as soon as possible. And when you're in dire straights, the last thing you need is something preventing expediting that process. Like your identification, it's in your best interest to make copies of your policies and any accompanying documents that you think you may need and store them safely and separately, either in a safe or with a family member you trust explicitly.

6. An Emergency Phone

We've all been in situations wherein we can barely get a signal on our phones. Now imagine what happens in a large-scale disaster event where the potential exists, not only for the cell towers to be damaged, but phone lines getting jammed up with too many people trying to make calls at once. That's not to mention the fact that if the power is out and your phone dies, both of the previous scenarios are moot from the get-go. One way to alleviate these issues is to have an emergency phone available — I own a AA-battery-powered SpareOne — for exactly that reason. Not an endorsement, just my personal preference.

7. A Compassionate Employer

I've worked for a few bozos in my life who didn't give a rat's tail about their employees. If a tornado blew your house away, they'd ask why you didn't catch a ride to work. Sounds unbelievable, but people like this do exist. That's why it's important to have a compassionate employer on your side for several reasons, not the least of which is if you lose everything. Having a boss who cares about your situation and will do whatever he or she can to make it easier on you can be your saving grace.

8. Incredible Insurance

Maintaining access to your insurance policies is one thing, but making sure you've chosen a provider who will be by your side when the ish hits the fan is another. Like a compassionate employer, an insurance provider who will go above and beyond when tragedy strikes can literally make or break you. You don't want to be left in the lurch when the lurch is all you have left, so it's important to choose your provider wisely.

9. Medication

For many, medication is a life-or-death situation on a daily basis, so having it handy in case of emergencies is essential. As a practice, I keep a few pills in a sealed envelope in my car just in case of emergencies. While I don't recommend this for those of you who have kids, there are other ways you can modify this tactic so you at least have a few doses of what you need immediately until you can access more in an emergency situation.

Have you ever been in a situation wherein you lost everything? What did you need to get through it? Share with us in the comments!

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Guest's picture

A couple of things to help you feel human: toothbrush and toothpaste, comb, other toiletries. It helps you centre when you have the ability to stick as much as possible to your daily routine. I always pack a notebook, pens, loose paper, phone numbers, and a small Bible. I also have a couple cool Japanese kits that are in a very tiny light box: metal chopsticks which screw together and a tiny fork and spoon. These are easy to disinfect in hot water or just soap or sand and vigorous rubbing. (The friction removes germs, interestingly enough.). Also, a tiny penknife and flashlight, toolkit, that fit on my keychain. Probably the best form of barter would be cigarettes! Even people who don't smoke take it up when severely stressed, but regardless, they are great for bartering. Oh, a flint and a magnifying glass.

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