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To do this week: Get your outdoors fall-ready

This week, we have advice for how to make sense of a whole other pandemic season.

Fall is here. Get ready.
Fall is here. Get ready.Read moreTom Gralish / File Photograph

Summer officially ends this week. So, it’s time to make sense of a whole other pandemic season. This week, we have advice for how to do just that. We’ve got tips for buying an outdoor heater, to prolong the outdoor social season as long as possible, and also not to isolate your friends with kids who are spending more time out in the world.

We’ve collected our best articles about how to do everything better right now. They’re in one place here.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and, as much as possible, it’s still a good idea to stay home.

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Do This

We’ve been chilling out outside all summer, but what are we going to do when it gets cold? Outdoor heaters are the hot new thing, as we look at hanging out with our friends when the temperature dips. Nick Vadala lays out what you need to know when buying one.

  1. Propane, gas or electric? The answer probably depends on your space. Electric heaters need to be near a plug; natural gas heaters are usually fixed to one spot. Propane heaters can be a little more versatile and portable.

  2. Think about your space, how often you would need to use the heater, and which fits best for you and your family. There are mounted, tabletop, and freestanding options (like the ones you see in restaurants): Choosing the right one depends on the size of your space and how you want to hang out in it.

  3. Figure out how much heat you need. Check the heater’s British thermal unit (BTU) rating, which is the amount of heat it can put out. A good rule of thumb: Divide the BTUs by 40 (or 30 for colder environments) to figure out how many square feet a device can effectively warm.

Lots more heater-buying tips in Nick’s full piece.

» Outdoor heaters are the hot accessory as it gets colder. Here’s how to buy one.

Know This

Now that the school year is up and running (sort of), and some kids are in school, or daycare, or playgroups, some people may take pause when they think about hanging out with their parent friends. But you don’t need to isolate them, Elizabeth Wellington found. In fact, please don’t: Your parent friends need you right now. Here’s how to think about the risks, when people’s kids are back in the world:

  1. Keep your fear in context by considering the rate of community spread. The more common the infection is in your community, the higher the likelihood that you could contract the virus. If you’re worried: Be extra careful. Socialize outdoors; be diligent about social distancing.

  2. Consider who else you need to see. If you’re in regular contact with someone who’s at risk, be extra careful. Continue socializing outside for as long as the weather will allow. And be extra aware of when you’ve seen people, and wait two weeks before spending time with anyone who’s more vulnerable.

  3. Don’t neglect your friends. Friendships are part of self-care, and there are ways to be there for each other, even if how that works has to change. Find ways to be supportive, even if you’re not comfortable hanging out in person. Your parent friends probably need that right now.

Lots more advice for hanging out with parents in Elizabeth’s full story.

» Don’t isolate your friends who are parents — even if their kids are back out in the world

Plan this

Here are some of the best ways to keep busy this week, with a few selections from our weekly events calendar:

  1. 🌙 Night Tours at Eastern State Penitentiary (Tour / in-person / ongoing) Arriving in time for the spookiest season of them all is the penitentiary’s brand-new Night Tours, where you can explore the cellblocks by moonlight. The audio tour is narrated by Steve Buscemi, and features large-scale projections, artist installations and more. ($19-32, Sept. 18-Nov. 15,, map, add to calendar)

  2. 🎨 M.I.M.O.S.A. at the Navy Yard (Art / in-person / outdoors / ongoing) From Group X, the anonymous art group that brought a cocoon out of tape and a tentacled sea monster to the Navy Yard in years past, Mystery Island and the Marvelous Occurrence of Spontaneous Art lets you explore six new outdoor art installations, including a 1984 Ford Thunderbird decked out in a paper version of the Guatemalan flag, a cross-stitched vine that climbs a building and a Gritty-esque bridge troll decked out in a Jawn T-shirt. (Free, until Nov. 2,, map, add to calendar)

  3. 🥁 Feria Del Barrio 2020 (Music / virtual / kid-friendly) The iconic North Philly fest goes virtual for the first time in its 36 years. Organized by Taller Puertorriqueño, the event includes a live bomba music performance by Tony Méndez y los Bomberos de la Calle, a ceremony to honor Edilia Gómez O’Hara, the Venezuelan cultural leader who died earlier this year, and information about well being for Latino families during the pandemic, all live streamed on Taller Puertorriqueño’s Facebook Page. (Free, Sept. 20, 6 p.m., and, add to calendar)

  4. 🌎 Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival (Movies / virtual / multi-day) The annual fest goes virtual this year with five days of packed programming, including 50 films from around the world, and discussions with filmmakers and scientists. This year’s program includes Tribes on the Edge, from Celine Cousteau (granddaughter of Jacques), and Beyond the Philth, about this city’s trash problem ($25, until Sept. 27,, add to calendar)

» More great events at