Insulated Tents Could Protect the Homeless From the Elements

Being homeless often means exposure to all the elements, from the glaring sun of a heat wave to the freezing winds of a winter storm. A Singapore-based nonprofit called billionBricks wants to protect people without homes from the risks of extreme weather with a heavily insulated tent that can be assembled easily in cities, as featured on Mashable recently.

The winterHyde tent was first developed after riots in the Indian city of Muzaffarnagar forced 43,000 people out of their homes in 2013. It’s designed with a reflective inner layer to stay comfortable in temperatures down to 32°F, with a highly visible, waterproof outer layer and a sand-weighted frame that stays put without anchoring. In the summer, the tent can be reversed so that the reflective layer keeps out the heat rather than trapping it inside, and there are ventilation flaps to let a breeze through.

The tents are currently built to house families of up to five, but a recent pilot in New Delhi has the company considering even bigger shelters. Some of the 12 families who used the tents had up to seven people sleeping inside. The pilot users also suggested that the tents come with built-in lighting, an idea that might be included in the next iteration of the design.

While the winterHyde tents were originally conceived as emergency shelters, there are plenty of people who are interested in using them as long-term housing. In Mumbai, a 2011 census found that at least 57,400 people lived in structures without roofs. Since the tents are only designed to be comfortable in above-freezing temperatures, it wouldn’t be the perfect solution for sheltering people who live in, say, Chicago or Moscow, but could potentially be an option for areas in Southeast Asia—where billionBricks wants to donate 1000 tents to needy families this year—or for relatively mild climates like California.

The tents can be purchased for a family in need for $199, and the company also accepts orders for individuals and organizations through a contact form on their site.

[h/t Mashable]

All images courtesy billionBricks

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The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

The Force Field Cloak
This Glowing Blanket Is Designed to Ease Kids' Fear of the Dark
The Force Field Cloak
The Force Field Cloak

Many kids have a security blanket they bring to bed with them every night, but sometimes, a regular blankie is no match for the monsters that invade their imaginations once the lights are off. Now there’s a glow-in-the-dark blanket designed to make children feel safer in bed, no night light required.

Dubbed the Force Field Cloak, the fleece blanket comes in several colorful, glowing patterns that remain invisible during the day. At night, you leave the blanket under a bright light for about 10 minutes, then the shining design will reveal itself in the dark. The glow lasts 8 to 10 hours, just long enough to get a child through the night.

Inventor Terry Sachetti was inspired to create the blanket by his own experiences struggling with scary nighttime thoughts as a kid. "I remember when I was young and afraid of the dark. I would lie in my bed at night, and my imagination would start getting the best of me," he writes on the product's Kickstarter page. "I would start thinking that someone or something was going to grab my foot that was hanging over the side of the bed. When that happened, I would put my foot back under my blanket where I knew I was safe. Nothing could get me under my blanket. No boogiemen, no aliens, no monsters under my bed, nothing. Sound familiar?"

The Force Field Cloak, which has already surpassed its funding goals on both Indiegogo and Kickstarter, takes the comfort of a blanket to the next level. The glowing, non-toxic ink decorating the material acts as a gentle night light that kids can wrap around their whole body. The result, the team claims, is a secure feeling that quiets those thoughts about bad guys hiding in the shadows.

To pre-order a Force Field Cloak, you can pledge $36 or more to the product’s Indiegogo campaign. It is expected to start shipping in January 2018.


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