People from states with harsh winters are sharing tips with Texans for staying safe and warm
Photo: Canva, @mixbecca/Twitter

A polar vortex swept through the southern United States this week, bringing snow and ice storms and record low temperatures that have debilitated the region. Texas in particular has been hit hard, and with an energy infrastructure that's not designed or prepared for such weather, millions of people have been without power for days.

People who aren't used to cold weather, who live in homes that aren't designed to retain heat, who don't have winter gear to keep them warm, are struggling to stay warm without power and heat. Some don't have water, either.

While politicians bicker over who is to blame for the dire situation, Americans are doing what they can to help. For those of us in the north, that means sharing knowledge and experience for how to stay warm when the heat goes out.

Several viral threads on Twitter have proven incredibly helpful as people offer their best tips for handling the frigid temperatures while staying safe. (Sadly, we've seen several deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning—running a car in a garage and heating a home with a charcoal grill are things you should avoid at all costs.)

Twitter user from Michigan @mixbecca shared this bullet list of advice:


"Okay southern friends / people without power -- as someone who has lived through many, many power outages in negative temps, while the priority is to get somewhere warm if you *can* if you're trapped at home -- here of some of the things that can help:

- Layers of loose-fitting clothes will keep you warmer than layers tight.

- Put towels / blankets / etc over windows, and if you can, choose a "warm room" for all of you to stay in that you can insulate. Shove towels under doors, tape over door frames if possible.

- Keep your hands and feet warm. Put them under your armpits, wrap them if you have to. Wear a hat indoors if needed to keep your ears warm.

- If you still have water, bottles of hot water at the foot of your bed under your sheets will help warm them up / create a "cave" of warmth.

- Turn on ALL your faucets so a teeny, tiny drip is going. Trust me. You DO NOT want your pipes to burst in negative temps. It is an actual nightmare. Someone on my tl was worried about wasting water but you will waste a lot more if you flood your house.

- If you still have gas you can use, a hot pot of water on the stove will help with heat and humidity; dry air indoors in the winter is the worst. Boiling pots of water will help on both ends also.

- Pantyhose are a godsend for layering. Those bitches are WARM. Wearing them under baggy sweatpants or something will make a world of difference. We did this when Michigan got hit with an ice storm and we had no power for a week.

- If you've never had to layer in the cold before, some of the best things you can wear are wool, flannel, silk, and fleece. Moisture-wicking fabrics and natural fibers are ideal for under layers; wool and flannel for top, bc they insulate you but they can't wick moisture away.

- If there are multiple levels to your house, just accept that the top floor is going to be the warmest. Heat rises, cold air sinks. If you have a particularly toasty bedroom it's easier to convert that to a 'warm room' instead of trying to heat the entire house.

- Shut doors to any rooms you don't absolutely need. Stuff towels under the doors. Got an office, a spare bedroom, etc? Seal it off so you're not "wasting" warm air on that room.

- DO NOT: Bring a generator inside. Ever. EVER. And don't run it in your garage, either. Generators have to run 30 ft away from your home; most northerners know this, but we can't expect southerners to.

- During the day, you can pull towels / etc down from windows if you have bright sunlight in and -- this is going to sound silly -- sitting in the sun in dark-colored clothing is a godsend when you're stuck in a freezing ass house.

- Make sure you recover windows at night if you're able to heat foods -- hot foods like tea, soups, etc will help. There's a reason ever ~idyllic~ Christmas movie has folks coming in from the snow to drink hot cocoa and broth, lol. now is the time to live your greatest tea / soup / chili aesthetic dreams.

- If you have pets, you need to monitor them when they're outside. Dogs can get frostbite on their paws; let them out to do their business and bring them back in. Animals are good at letting you know when they're cold, but don't be afraid to make blanket nests / etc for them

- If you're desperate to block drafts and you have them, pool noodles are a godsend. Cut them in half (length-wise not like....down the middle) and wrap them in fabric and jam that shit under your door.

- For bedding, fluffy stuff goes closest to you (goal is to have pockets of warm air!). The thinner and denser the layers of bedding are, the closer they should go to the top. So if you're sleeping with, say, a fluffy duvet and two blankets, duvet touches your skin, blankets on top.

I am literally so sorry for everyone stuck in this position. Being without power in the cold is a nightmare. You'll feel like you're losing your mind, and cold /hurts/.

(tldr: Multiple loose layers, block the drafts, block off as many rooms as possible, and hot drinks, if you can.)"

Others added to the list with their own tips, such as holding hot drinks against your heart to keep your core warm. Limbs will feel the coldest, but keeping the center of your body warm is more important than you'd think.

Movement warms you up, but you don't want to break a sweat since the moisture will make you colder.

Other tips include:

- Melt snow in buckets to use for flushing toilets if your water is shut off.

- Your hot water tank holds a lot of fresh water. If your water is shut off, you can drain it from your water heater

- Line windows with cardboard for insulation. Saran wrap window edges. Bubble wrap works as insulation as well.

- Depending on the outdoor temperature, you can put food in plastic bins or coolers out in the snow.

- Stay hydrated. Your body uses a lot of energy just to stay warm, and your body regulates its temperature more effectively if it's properly hydrated.

- Hats are a must. You lose a lot of heat out of your head.

- If you must drive somewhere, go slower than you think you should, and don't slam on your breaks. If you lose control, don't turn the wheel sharply. Try to stay along the rumble strip on the side of the road where you have more traction.

- Check on neighbors, especially if they live alone and/or are elderly.

- Again, don't run the car in the garage and don't use a barbecue indoors. If you have a gas oven, don't use it to heat the house. Carbon monoxide poisoning is real.

People in Texas have expressed gratitude for the tips, in addition to being thankful for people not making fun of those who are struggling.

It's heartening to see people coming together virtually to help strangers who live thousands of miles away, reaching out with sympathy and solidarity.

Anyone who's experienced a power outage during the winter knows how brutal the cold can be. And since folks in Texas and other southern spots aren't used to or prepared for it, handling that situation is even harder.

Hang in there, southern friends. We're hoping this crisis passes soon for you all.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

What you look like in a selfie camera isn't really what you look like in real life.

We've all done it: You snap a selfie, look at it, say, "OMG is my nose swollen?" then try again from a different angle. "Wait, now my forehead looks weird. And what's up with my chin?" You keep trying various angles and distances, trying to get a picture that looks like how you remember yourself looking. Whether you finally land on one or not, you walk away from the experience wondering which photo actually looks like the "real" you.

I do this, even as a 40-something-year-old who is quite comfortable with the face I see in the mirror. So, it makes me cringe imagining a tween or teen, who likely take a lot more selfies than I do, questioning their facial features based on those snapshots. When I'm wondering why my facial features look weird in selfies it's because I know my face well enough to know that's not what it looks like. However, when a young person whose face is changing rapidly sees their facial features distorted in a photo, they may come to all kinds of wrong conclusions about what they actually look like.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Dan Fischer takes people's lost loved ones out surfing for "one last wave."

Dan Fischer understands grief. He also has some idea of how to cope with it—and how to help others through it as well.

Fischer has experienced tremendous loss in the past few years, losing both his father and his best friend. As a surfer, he's a believer in what he calls "the transformative power of the ocean." Originally from Montreal, Canada, Fischer has found healing riding the waves off Newport, Rhode Island, where he's lived for the past seven years.

Now he wants to share that healing power of the waves with others.

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The airplane graveyard that 3 families call home is the subject of a stunning photo series.

From the skies to the ground, these airplanes continue to serve a purpose.

This article originally appeared on 09.18.15


What happens to airplanes after they're no longer fit to roam the skies?


An abandoned 747 rests in a Bangkok lot. Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

Decommissioned planes are often stripped and sold for parts, with the remains finding a new home in what is sometimes referred to as an "airplane boneyard" or "graveyard." Around the world, these graveyards exist; they're made up of large, empty lots and tons of scrap metal.

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