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To do this week: Replace your face masks

We’ve got advice on how to weed your mask stash. Also, Thanksgiving is next week, and we have some tips for what will be, for many of us, a different kind of holiday.

It might be time to replace your fabric masks.
It might be time to replace your fabric masks.Read moreCynthia Greer

On the to-do list this week: It’s time to take a fresh look at your face masks. After all, you may still be using some of the same masks you first picked up in March. We’ve got advice on how to weed your mask stash. Also, Thanksgiving is next week, and we have some tips for what will be, for many of us, a different kind of holiday.

And remember: We’ve collected our best articles with our best Philly tips. 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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Stay safe, do stuff

Here is one highlight from our weekly events calendar:

  1. 👨🏾‍🍳 Thanksgiving: Old Traditions and New Celebrations: Jose Garces (Food / virtual / free) Renowned Philly chef Garces leads a virtual cooking class, where he makes one of his favorite meals and discusses his career, restaurants and non-profit Garces Foundation. The event is free to attend but registration is required. (Free, Nov. 23, 7-8:30 p.m.,, add to calendar)

🔎 Find more of this week’s safe kid-friendly, outdoor and arts events.

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It may be the time to replace some of those fabric face masks. If you’ve been going to the same stack since March, including those you cobbled together out of old T-shirts and bandanas as you tried to remember how to sew, they may need a refresh. But how can you tell which deserve the bin? Grace Dickinson breaks down when to toss a mask:

  1. If it’s loose. A snug fit is key. If the elastic of your ear loops starts to loosen, it’s time to reach for something tighter.

  2. If you can see through the fabric when you hold your mask up to the light. That’s a bad sign,and may indicate that the fabric is deteriorating, or was too thin from the start.

  3. If you have to keep adjusting it. A mask needs to cover your nose and mouth in order to work. If one of the straps falls off and you have to keep touching your mask to keep it in place, this defeats its purpose.

  4. If it’s ripped (even a little). This is perhaps the most obvious sign of all. If your mask is ripped, it needs to go. It doesn’t matter how small or large the hole is.

More great mask tips in Grace’s full piece.

» READ MORE: You should probably replace some of your fabric face masks.

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There are new restrictions in place in New Jersey and Philly. Having a hard time keeping track of what the latest rules are? We’ve got it all for you in some handy, easy-to-use guides:

Talk about this

It’s almost time to give thanks. But with COVID-19 numbers rising, in-person dinners may be off the table (experts are advising not to gather with people outside your household, even for an outdoor meal). Gathering around a Zoom call may make it harder to feel close to those you care about. And combined with a fractious year, it’s harder than ever to feel like you’re coming together. Elizabeth Wellington put together some helpful conversation prompts to feel close with family when you have to stay far away.

  1. What are we thankful for? What are you most grateful about how you’ve handled this year’s tough times? What did you learn? Name three people you are most grateful for in your life, and explain why. Did you actually accomplish something on your bucket list during quarantine? Pick up a new skill?

  2. What can we learn about our family? How did the first Thanksgiving meal you ever prepared turn out? Did you ever spend Thanksgiving alone? What was your best Thanksgiving ever? What was grandma and grandpa or mom and dad’s first holiday like together?

  3. What can you look forward to? What do you hope to accomplish next year? How can the people around the table help? Where will you go when it’s safe to travel? What do you want to do when we are free to walk around mask-less? What are some ways you plan to give back when it’s safe?

Not only do these prompts get us past what divides us, you may find that the conversation, even a virtual one, can make you feel closer than ever. More great tips in Elizabeth’s full piece.

» READ MORE: Use these prompts to talk to family this Thanksgiving during divided times

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Gun sales are way up this year, and many are first-time buyers. While Pennsylvania does not require gun owners to get gun safety training or safely store their firearms, experts say it can save lives. If you have a gun in the house, Nick Vadala has advice on how you can be a safer and more responsible gun owner.

  1. Store your guns safely. One way to help prevent accidents and tragedies, especially with children, is to use a gun lock or gun safe. Scott Charles, a gun violence educator and trauma outreach coordinator for Temple University Hospital, distributes free cable gun locks, and if you’re in Philadelphia, you can even request one to be mailed to you. Gun safes, meanwhile, can be as little as $50, and provide an extra step of security — especially against theft. Guns should be stored unloaded, and ammunition should be kept securely away from the firearm itself for extra security.

  2. Document your firearms. That means keeping a list of serial numbers and model(s), photos of each firearm, and all paperwork. Keeping this documentation means that, in case of theft, you can provide police with information about what was taken.

  3. Communicate openly about gun safety. Talk about gun safety with the other people in your home — particularly if you have children, Charles says. Be SMART, a program by Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, suggests a number of tips for talking to kids about guns. You should also check with the families of your children’s friends about whether they have guns, and what they do to secure them. Also talk to grandparents, who may not be accustomed to having kids around.

  4. Get training. While it’s not required in Pennsylvania, consider training so you know how to properly handle your weapon. Many local gun retailers and firearm ranges offer courses. You should learn how to safely handle your weapon, and consider training on basic gun safety and safe cleaning, too.

More essential gun safely advice in Nick’s full piece.

» READ MORE: Gun sales are surging. Here’s what you need to know about gun safety.