Deadly winter weather in Texas this week continues to leave millions in dire straits, with families in particular struggling to keep warm.
Parents and kids have gone days without heat or running water due to outages and burst pipes caused by the unprecedented freeze; with power slowly being restored across the state for some and ongoing water shortages, many families have shared the drastic measures they’ve gone to on Twitter:
Desperate parents are burning belongings for warmth
As infrastructure in Texas is not built to handle severe cold — with critics saying this disaster was compounded by a deregulated energy industry (no, not windmills) and oversights by lawmakers — the snow and ice has parents scrambling to heat their homes with anything on-hand.
Firewood has become a hot commodity, with many waiting in line for hours or trading wood for bottled water.
At least one Texan child has frozen to death this week: Cristian Pavon, 11, died of hypothermia after his family’s home lost power.
Worried moms and dads are making hard choices
Since many homes in the southern state aren’t insulated for the freezing cold, some families are huddling in cars or using risky methods to keep homes warm.
However, these methods aren’t without dangers. Over 450 carbon monoxide-related emergency calls and several fires have endangered lives this week.
With at least 49 people dead due to the brutal weather, one child’s death was caused by carbon monoxide poisoning; three children and their grandmother were killed in a house fire on Tuesday, which they started to stay warm.
And as father and NBC reporter Mike Hixenbaugh experienced, families with kids in need of urgent medical care during this extreme weather are also undergoing harrowing conditions.
Vulnerable families are being impacted the worst by this weather crisis.
Canadians have started sharing winter tips with Texan families
Seeing how bad the situation in Texas is inspired people living in colder climates to share advice for getting through the bitter cold. Ottawa resident Victor Emerson wrote with “great sympathy to readers of the Dallas Morning News, suggesting Texans leave their taps trickling to prevent pipe problems.
“Bundle up and stay together; you’re in our thoughts,” Emerson wrote.
As large parts of Canada deal with sub-zero seasons regularly, many on Canadian Twitter shared what’s helped them survive northern winters.
Take this “old Canadian trucker tip” for making a DIY space heater.
The flower pot equivalent has also been shared widely, which survivalist experts have noted offers limited heat and needs to be closely watched, but works in a pinch.
People also chimed in with advice for Texans who drive. For the basic heating kit, Consumer Affairs advises adding a fireproof metal can for safety and warm clothes.
Keeping pets warm with socks and blankets was a common tip. A Canadian reptile owner wrote an extensive thread with tips specifically for Texans with lizards and snakes; their praise of hand warmers and blankets was echoed by veterinarian health blog PetCoach.
There were plenty of empathic well-wishes of “Canadian warmth” towards U.S. southerners coping with the unexpected.
One pro at getting through Canadian winter even dispelled advice that wasn’t helpful.
Still, the outpouring of Canadian support have also caused people to point out the miserable housing conditions being shared are everyday realities for many Indigenous communities.
How Canadians can support Texan families from afar
As all this unfolds during the COVID-19 pandemic, the spirit of mutual aid is needed more than ever. Charities, food bank drives, and aid campaigns have stepped forward to help families survive these dangerous times, including help from national organizations, according to CNN.
Romper reports the American Red Cross has also begun disaster relief, which families will hopefully benefit from soon.
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