Here are five things to check
before you head out on your next adventure:

(NC) 1. Pack an emergency kit.
Your kit should include non-perishable food, bottled water, washer fluid, a spare tire, jumper cables, jack and tool kit, first aid supplies, flares, candles and matches or a lighter, flashlight, batteries, and your cell phone charger. Keeping this small yet crucial kit with you could help you avoid roadside disaster.

2. Vehicle maintenance.
Your tires, brakes, steering and suspension should all be checked out by an automotive professional to ensure that they’re running smoothly. Poor performance from any of the above can spell danger when your trip calls for high speeds, bumpy road driving or quick stops.

3. Bring a backup set of keys.
How frustrating is it when you’re ready to leave the house and can’t find your keys? Now imagine that happening when you’re a hundred miles from home and can’t go anywhere. You will thank yourself later for this foresight.

4. Top up.
Keep your eyes peeled for the next gas station when your fuel drops to one quarter full. Don’t risk unusually long distances between stations that could see your road trip plans coming to a halt because your vehicle won’t take you any further.

5. Have your paperwork in order.
Keep your owner’s manual, registration, license and proof of insurance with you, and ensure they are valid for the length of your trip. If you don’t have your vehicle’s manual anymore, most automakers offer PDF versions online.
Find more information at

Keep your kids distracted – so you aren’t

(NC) Summer is on its way, meaning the time for family road trips is almost upon us. Road trips are an opportunity for adventure and family bonding, but for some parents, spending hours in a car with excited kids can be a distraction from the road.

According to a 2017 survey by Belairdirect, 54 percent of Canadians see distracted driving as one of the top risky behaviours behind the wheel. If you’re planning on taking your children on a road trip this summer, here’s what you can do to keep them entertained so you can focus on driving:

Bring toys and activities. As any parent knows, young kids can get restless, so it’s important to bring toys and activities that will keep them occupied. Noise can be a big distraction when driving, so make sure that whatever you bring will encourage quiet time. Movies and books, if car sickness isn’t an issue, can help kids pass the time in relative silence.

Play games. If two parents or more than one child are in the car, whoever isn’t behind the wheel can play popular road trip games like “I spy” or the license plate game. As long as the participants don’t get too rowdy, you can drive feeling confident that your passengers are distracted.

Tire them out. Before hitting the road, encourage your kids to do something active like practice a dance routine or show off the latest moves they learned in karate. This can zap just enough energy out them to keep them calm during long car rides.

Make them your co-pilots. If your kids are a little older, have them help you with directions. It will make them feel like they have an important role to play and allow you to keep your eyes on the road instead of having to look at a phone or GPS.

No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen. Make sure you’re properly covered and find the right protection for yourself online at

How to pack your electronics for airport security

Bringing your favourite devices can make your flight and destination all the more enjoyable.

Have your electronic boarding pass ready. One of the first things you need to do is show your boarding pass to the screening officer. If you have it on your smartphone, make sure it is turned on and your boarding pass is ready for inspection.

Remove protective cases. Ensure that cases can be easily removed. Better yet, save time by removing cases before you arrive at the checkpoint. If you’re selected for additional screening and the case can’t be removed, the device will not be permitted beyond the screening checkpoint.

Charge your device. You may be asked to show that your device can be powered up. If it can’t be turned on when requested, it will not be permitted beyond the checkpoint.

Pack small electronics in your carry-on. You don’t need to place small electronics directly in the bin. Save time and hassle by leaving smartphones, tablets, e-readers, handheld video games and cameras in your carry-on bag.

Place large electronics in a separate bin. Larger electronics such as laptops, video game consoles, DVD players, netbooks or notebooks need to be removed from your carry-on and placed in a separate bin.

You can check CATSA’s website or mobile app for additional information.

Tips for a healthy family vacation

Many families decide to head to destinations where the sun, sand and beaches are aplenty. To fully enjoy your long-awaited vacation, make sure your family stays healthy.

Knowing what supplements to take and what foods to eat while you’re away can make a big difference. Here are tips from the Canadian Health Food Association to help you stay healthy and enjoy your time off.

Keep a healthy digestive system with probiotics. Prevention is key, so be sure your family takes a probiotic with active cultures at least two weeks before your trip and throughout. These good bacteria will help to provide the proper balance of good flora, and combat foreign bacteria from the water and food you may encounter on your vacation. When purchasing supplements, always look for the eight-digit Natural Product Number (NPN). This certifies that Health Canada has reviewed and approved the product for safety, efficacy and quality.

Stay hydrated. Make sure to drink water or try flavoured waters like coconut water and maple water, both of which are rich in natural minerals to replace lost electrolytes. Always remember to pack a water bottle for each person when you’re out enjoying the sights so you stay hydrated in hot weather.

Curb those cravings. Keep healthy snacks in your bag to curb salty snack and sugary drink cravings while waiting in a line or in between meals. Dehydrated or baked kelp chips contain the goodness of a whole serving of veggies and are a healthier alternative to potato chips. You can also make your own trail mix with nuts, dried fruit and dark chocolate. Consuming 25 to 40 grams of dark chocolate can improve blood flow, while nuts are packed with protein, fibre and essential fats to keep kids full until dinner.

Hemp is also an excellent source of protein, has a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids. You can find hemp snacks at your local CHFA Member health food store, a great place to stock up before hitting the road. To find a store near you, visit

Use this checklist before heading south

If you are going on vacation for the holidays or planning on heading south for the winter, Hydro One has some helpful tips to save energy and keep your home safe:

• Electronic devices left plugged in, even when turned off, still draw power. That’s called phantom or standby power, and it’s costing you money. Unplug the following electronics while you are away: television, home theatre system, computer, monitor, printer, electronic chargers and other appliances you don’t need while you are on vacation.

• For increased security, use timers for lighting inside and outside your home. Using timers is much less costly than leaving your lights on all day. Fluorescent lighting requires special dimmers or timers, so make sure you use the correct ones.

• Turn down the temperature in your home to 16⁰C.

• Turn off the power supply to your major appliances at your main
panel. If you are disconnecting power to your refrigerator, ensure it is emptied and leave the door slightly ajar.

• Turn off the power supply to any space heaters; otherwise, they may automatically turn on during cold weather.

• Have a neighbour or family member check in on your home and bring in your mail while you are away.

Find more energy-saving tips for home and business at

Why you should never sign your child’s passport

Marie-Eve Vallieres / PAXnews

You may have heard the story on the news recently about several parents and their children who, instead of boarding their flights at the airport, had to turn back and pay a visit to the Service Canada offices. The reason? The parents had inadvertently signed the passports of their children – not realizing that this is, in fact, an illegal act.

Travelling with a child is already more complex than embarking on an adult getaway – and not just because we have to make sure, at all times, that Sophie the Giraffe hasn’t been left behind somewhere.

Here’s what you need to know about your children’s passports.

First-hand examples

Last year, Stephanie Sauvageau and her family had to kiss their Cuban holidays in the sun goodbye–as well as the prospect of getting a refund–because one parent had signed their daughter’s passport, rendering it invalid. As a result, they couldn’t board their flight.

“A customs officer once told me that a baby could smear the signature box without invalidating their passport – as long as they had done it themselves,” said Myke Larouche-Lévesque, travel agent for “I found this surprising.”

Michele Grenier Collin, a travel agent, indicated in a private group that she recently had to help a client who was at Montreal-Trudeau airport very early in the morning with two children. She, too, had been denied boarding due to children’s passports that had been incorrectly signed.

“The employee kept them waiting until finally they were told that only the parents could leave, but not the children,” she said, “because the passports had been inadvertently signed by the mother. She had done it automatically, without thinking.”

She would, in all likelihood, have been able to fly with her family after speaking with the supervisor, but she won’t take the chance again – if she was lucky twice in this scenario, another agent joked, he would have recommended that she buy a lottery ticket.

What does the law say?

The government’s view on the issue is clear.

“Children under the age of 16 can sign their own passports, but if they do not, leave the signature block on page 3 blank. If you sign it on behalf of the child the passport will be invalid.”

Therefore, only the person holding the passport has the right to sign it. The document remains valid if the child affixes their signature – no matter how messy it is.

Good to know: a child’s passport does not expire on the day of their 18th birthday – it remains valid until the expiry date indicated. They may apply for an adult passport between six months and one year before that date.

If a customs officer insists…

While Canadian border officers are usually strict about the application of the procedure, some foreign countries operate differently. Some families were ‘forced’ to sign their child’s passport; however, the Government of Canada strongly discourages this process and encourages travellers to print a copy of Passport Canada’s official regulations.

For more information on children’s passport regulations, click here.

3 tips to help your kids
get the most out of summer

(NC) While the summer vacation provides children with more freedom and a much-needed break
from formal education, experts say this time of year is critical for learning and development and can contribute to their health and self-esteem.

Here are three ways to ensure your child gets the most out of this break.

1. Leave time for unstructured play. Many parents rush to fill their children’s time with scheduled activities, but don’t forget to leave space for unstructured play. A growing body of evidence suggests that play is central to the development of the mental, physical and social skills kids need to achieve their full potential in adulthood.
2. Spend family time. A summer holiday is not only perfect for creating lasting family memories, it can also be incredibly valuable to support your child’s self-esteem. When parents make time for one-on-one interaction with their kids, it can help reinforce their sense of self-worth and even support some areas of your child’s brain development.
3. Introduce your children to volunteering. Much of what young ones learn about community, integrity and generosity is learned from their parents. While busy schedules and homework can be an obstacle during the school year, the summer can be a perfect opportunity to engage your children in these issues through volunteering. To provide some structure and inspiration, organizations like Amnesty International offer a wide range of issues and activities for children of all ages to engage in with their parents.
Find more information online at


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