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What you need to know about your carbon monoxide detector

Today's Parent | posted Thursday, Jun 25th, 2015


Monsters under the bed aside, things you can see and feel are usually scarier than things you can’t. Fire? Obviously scary. Carbon monoxide? Many of us aren’t even really sure what it is, and since we can’t see it (or smell or taste it, for that matter), it’s easy to not worry about it.

But ignoring the dangers of carbon monoxide could put your family at risk. And beginning today, in Ontario it could also land you in trouble with the law.

Last October, the province passed a law making carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in most homes. Today, the law becomes enforceable. Don’t comply, and you could be fined up to $50,000. But the fine is nothing compared to the risks associated with carbon monoxide poisoning.

Here’s what you need to know about carbon monoxide detectors.

What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas that can circulate through your home if something goes wrong with one of your fuel-burning appliances, such as your furnace, fireplace, stove or hot-water heater. It can also enter your home from your attached garage if you accidentally leave your car running.

How dangerous is it?
Carbon monoxide is poisonous. Exposure can cause flu-like symptoms—headaches, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and confusion—but with no fever. In severe cases, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause brain damage and death. There were 380 accidental carbon monoxide poisoning deaths in Canada from 2000 to 2009, according to Statistics Canada. Kids are at additional risk, says Carol Heller of Kidde Canada, Canada’s largest manufacturer of carbon monoxide detectors. “Smaller people are more susceptible a lot quicker,” she says. That means even if you feel fine, your child could be experiencing the beginnings of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Where should you install a carbon monoxide detector?
Most people think a detector ought to be installed just outside the furnace room or attached garage. While it’s a good idea to have one there, it’s vital that carbon monoxide detectors be installed near bedrooms, or any rooms where people sleep, “to ensure they wake you up,” says Heller. There are various types of detectors—hard-wired, plug-in, with or without batteries—and at various price points starting at around $35. For families, Heller’s strongest recommendation is to choose a detector with a digital display. “The CSA requirement is they go off when carbon monoxide levels reach 70 parts per million. But kids can already be quite ill by then,” says Heller. Put a digital displaydetector near a bedroom and get in the habit of glancing at it when you walk by. “You’ll notice if it’s not at zero,” says Heller. Another installation tip: ignore the oft-repeated advice that detectors should be placed low to the ground. “That’s a myth,” says Heller. “Carbon monoxide mixes with air, so you can place the detector anywhere.”

Do they need to be replaced?
Nothing lasts forever—and that includes carbon monoxide detectors. They should be replaced every five to 10 years, depending on the brand, even if they seem to be working fine. Every approved carbon monoxide detector should have its manufacture date printed on it. “Check your detector today,” says Heller. “If it was made before 2008, replace it.”

For more information, visit safeathome.ca, a site developed by Kidde Canada to help inform Canadians about fire and carbon monoxide dangers, as well as endthesilence.ca, the website of the non-profit organization Hawkins-Gignac Foundation for CO Education.

9 little steps that can improve your health fast!

Dr. Joey Shulman | posted Tuesday, Jun 23rd, 2015


Feeling overwhelmed about how to improve your health? If so, this article is for you! All you have to do is start small with the simple steps outlined below.

1. Eat more salads – With the summer approaching, our palate tends towards fresh, raw foods. To boost your mineral, vitamin and anti-oxidant intake, get creative with your salads! Examples to include:

  • Leafy greens: spinach, romaine, watercress, kale, butter lettuce and arugula
  • Colourful vegetables: cherry tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, peas, artichokes
  • Fruits: sliced apples or pears, dried cranberries, blueberries or strawberries
  • Healthy fats: walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, pecans, avocados and/or oil-based dressings
  • Protein: grilled chicken, tuna, salmon or goat cheese

2. Include probiotic foods into your diet – Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that are beneficial for optimal digestive health, are beneficial for weight loss and for overall immune system function. Probiotic foods and beverages include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and kombucha tea.

3. Breathe deeply – It is very hard to feel tense and stressed while belly breathing. Breathing deeply through the nose switches your nervous system into a parasympathetic response that calms your nerves and is overall good for your immune system.

4. Go nuts – Eating a handful of nuts (approximately 15) has been shown to help prevent heart disease and be very beneficial for weight loss. In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine recently published findings that eating a handful of nuts per day could possibly extend your life. Unsalted and raw walnuts, almonds, cashews and pistachios are all great options.

5. Get outside – Studies show the best way to lower the release of your stress hormone cortisol is to get into the great outdoors! Spending time in nature will do wonders for your overall health and your sense of wellness.

6. Love thy raw – Fruits and vegetables in raw form contain an abundant amount of phytochemicals (plant nutrients that fight disease), minerals and vitamins. Try to eat a minimum of 2-3 raw food options per day. Eating raw can be as easy as having blueberries at breakfast, an apple for snack and a big salad at dinner.

7. Strengthen your core musculature – Core strengthening exercises will tone back muscles, abdominal muscles and muscles around the pelvis. This will result in better posture and a flatter looking tummy. If inclined, a few private pilates classes can teach you how to isolate and strengthen your deep core muscles. Alternatively, the simple plank pose done at home can also isolate your core effectively.

8. Listen to music – Whether you prefer rock, country, R&B or classical music, having your own personal dance party can be good for your health! Listening to music can elicit an endorphin release which helps to lower blood pressure and improve mood.

9. Chew your food carefully – When it comes to your health, you are only as healthy as your pipes. In other words, you are only as healthy as you are absorbing and digesting. Instead of rushing through your meals or snacks, be mindful of slowing down and chewing your food carefully. This one simple step is very effective in reducing signs of bloating and to get you to eat a little bit less.


Week of June 22, 2015

BT Toronto | posted Sunday, Jun 21st, 2015


Coming up on Breakfast Television this week:

Tune into BT Monday as Adam Scott chats about ‘Overnight.’

On Thursday, it’s all things Pride as we gear up for the big weekend. Tune into our big special.

And to end off the week Friday, Leon’s will help us find our zen.

Be sure to watch BT weekdays 5:30 to 9 a.m. on City, right here at BTtoronto.ca, or on our Breakfast Television mobile app for iOS and Android!

10 mistakes to avoid when decorating a small bedroom

Alexandra Gater | posted Thursday, Jun 18th, 2015


Mistake 1: Ignoring the corners.

Use the corners of your bedroom to create more storage. A corner hanging bar such as the one below can be used for sweaters or blankets.


Mistake 2: Buying furniture that doesn’t have a dual purpose.

Invest in a bed that has storage underneath or a desk that folds against the wall to maximize space effectively. This simple and practical storage bed frame is from West Elm.


See more common mistakes here

Tips on packing for long weekend travel

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Jun 18th, 2015


The trick with long weekend travel is to get out of the office as quickly as possible, and pack as much as you can into a carry-on.

That means that every item that you bring needs to do more than one thing. Theresa Quick has her top tips for long weekend travel:

Wear several versatile pieces to work—you will be able to get the most of weekend travel by being dressed and ready to jump in the car or cab. Layer your heaviest pieces if you are travelling by plane—your flats, jeans and put your purse inside your beach bag. Take a look at each item’s fabric and consider the following factors: quality, thickness, weight, wrinkles, transparency, and texture. Jersey and cotton blends will be the best for breathability—you can crumble in a ball into your bag and it will be ready to wear when you hit your destination.

TIP: Patterns won’t show stains or sweat- so work them in! Wear layers to work that can do double duty over the weekend.

Items that can do double duty:reversible bikinis, two sided scarves and a reversible bag. You shouldn’t be bringing more than two pairs of shoes—think of getting metallic beach sandals they work really well at night with a maxi dress- just make sure they have a rubber bottom for hte pool (show examples)

Your cosmetic bag should be doing double duty—instead of bringing the classic toiletry bag, look for one that can double as a clutch for the evenings (or pack your cosmetics in one of your existing evening bags. ANOTHER TIP- if you get a clear window, you can usually get through security without having to fumble with those little plastic bags

Instead of searching for a beach cover-ups (which don’t have a huge selection typically), look in the scarves. They can be worn on the plane, out at night if it gets chilly or as a cover-up by the beach or pool. TIP- scarves with large widths can look bulky around the neck, so hold it on a diagonal when you are wearing it as a scarf (I will demonstrate).

Passport wallets are a great way to keep all your travel documents in one place and if you get it in a bright colour, you are less likely to forget it or lose it in the bottom of your bag.

Think about a snack you can bring with you that won’t melt or spoil. I always bring a little sachet of nuts- they can be a lifesaver while you are travelling and tide you over until you can find something decent to eat at your destination.

Dry shampoo is a lifesaver—and get you through the weekend with one good blow-dry- even a great way to refresh after a flight or long car ride. Blotting papers are also light and refresh your make-up easily (particularly when its hot).

Put everything on the bed before you pack it – don’t just start putting things right into your bag—you have a huge risk of forgetting something. Then organize things in different packages (or cubes) when you have a small carry-on. It will make it easier to find things and won’t wrinkle everything else when you are rummaging for something.

Hot weather warnings: What to remember

Claire Gagne | posted Tuesday, Jun 16th, 2015


Strong Sun

The UV Index is a measure of the intensity of the sun’s rays. Environment Canada (weather.gc.ca) forecasts the highest level of UV for the day, which you can expect around midday. If the UV Index is between three and five, simply slather on the sunscreen and head outdoors. But if the forecasted UV Index for the day is six or higher, plan your outdoor activities for before 11 a.m. or after 4 p.m., as the sun will be less intense. Check The Weather Network (theweathernetwork.com or download the app) for current readings, and be especially careful when the UV Index is eight or higher, as skin can burn very quickly. (Though rare in Canada, a UV Index of 11 or higher can cause skin to burn within minutes!) “Young kids can get bad sunburns before you even realize there’s a problem,” says Michael Dickinson, a paediatrician in Miramichi, NB.

Bad Air

The Air Quality Health Index tells us how much pollution is outside on a scale of one to 10, and is more likely to affect people in large cities, near industry or close to areas prone to forest fires. When pollution is high—at seven or above—young kids and people with asthma or heart conditions should limit strenuous outdoor activity, according to Health Canada. That doesn’t mean you can’t go outside at all—just use Environment Canada’s hourly air quality readings and next-day forecasts to plan. Keep activities low-key and monitor children closely. “If your child is getting tired more easily than normal, or if she’s coughing, wheezing or seems to be working harder to breathe, those are signs of respiratory trouble because of the pollution, and you should bring her indoors,” says Dickinson. 

Heat Waves

The definition of extreme heat varies by where you live, but generally, a heat warning is issued when it’s deemed the temperature increases the potential for health problems such as heatstroke and dehydration, which can be fatal. All children can be affected by heat, but it’s most dangerous for infants, young children and people with asthma or heart disease, says Dickinson. It’s best to plan a movie day or hit an indoor playground when a heat alert is issued.


In warmer months, trees, grasses and weeds procreate by releasing tiny grains of pollen, which are carried by the wind. The Weather Network tells us how much and what kind of pollen is floating around. Pollen is high on dry, windy days, is released in the morning and typically peaks in urban areas midday. “Pollen counts are particularly important if you’re prone to allergies and asthma,” says Dickinson, so monitor the pollen forecast and plan your outdoor time for when counts are low. If your allergic child will be outdoors when pollen is high, speak to your doctor about giving him an antihistamine before he goes out.


A version of this article appeared in our June 2015 issue with the headline “Weather warnings,” p. 24.

TTC promises 10-minute-or-better service on 52 routes starting this fall

Michael Talbot | posted Monday, Jun 15th, 2015


The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is vowing that the days of staring at your watch and cursing a tardy subway, streetcar or bus will soon be a thing of the past.

TTC chair Coun. Josh Colle announced on Monday a new 10-minute-or-better service network starting this fall.

The promise of service in 10 minutes or less will apply to 52 routes across the city and is part of $100 million in service improvements for 2015.

“We are committing to this standard, it’s a standard we can be held to, and one that we are investing the dollars,” Colle said.

The network applies to subway service, as well as 12 streetcar and 37 bus routes.

“TTC riders will have shorter wait times at transit stops,” Colle promised. “It will help reduce crowding on vehicles and provide a more comfortable, convenient, but most importantly, reliable service for our users.

“Great cities provide mobility options for citizens across a city-wide network and there will be frequent and reliable TTC service.

“Our very patient and loyal TTC riders have demanded this […],” he said.

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