Operation Red Nose is in Effect!

ICBC has all the information you need on Operation Red Nose!

Named in honour of Rudolph, the most famous reindeer of all, Operation Red Nose provides rides to drivers and their passengers who have been drinking or are too tired to drive home during the holiday season.

How it works

On Friday and Saturday nights from November 25 to December 17 and on New Year’s Eve, if you’ve been drinking or are too tired to drive home, call 1-877-604-NOSE and a team of three Operation Red Nose volunteers will help you get home safely.

One volunteer will drive your vehicle, a second volunteer will navigate, and a third volunteer will follow in an escort vehicle to pick up the two volunteers once they drop you off.

Donations to Operation Red Nose are gratefully accepted and help fund local youth sports and other not-for-profit organizations.

In BC you can access Operation Red Nose services in:

  • Abbotsford/Mission
  • Burnaby
  • Chilliwack
  • Delta/Richmond
  • Kamloops (also operating on Dec. 26 and 30)
  • Langley/Surrey
  • New Westminster
  • North Shore (North Vancouver & West Vancouver)
  • Prince George (also operating on Dec. 30)
  • Ridge-Meadows
  • Tri-Cities (Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Belcarra and Anmore)
  • Williams Lake

You can always volunteer to help through the National Operation Red Nose site. In 2015, 4,264 dedicated volunteers across 13 B.C. communities gave 7,071 rides to get people and their vehicles home safely while raising $192,720 for their local charities.

A Day in Anaheim

Ever woke up one rainy morning on the west coast and just thought it would be nice to spend the day somewhere warm? anaheim4Somewhere you could connect with the family and enjoy time with your toes in the sand, without bundling up or shaking off umbrellas?

Well last weekend we did just that! VisitAnaheim.org invited us to come and see what it would be like to spend just a day in Anaheim, inside the warm and sandy 6-Pack Indoor Beach in Richmond. T-shirts and barefeet, and we jumped right in for two glorious hours – building sandcastles, face painting, balloon twisting, eating treats, playing and jumping.

anaheim6The party was complete with everything we needed… and you know what we loved the most? Just time together, building in the sand. And that’s what family vacations are really all about, right? Spending time together without the daily distractions of work, phones, programs, and commitments.

We found some interesting information on Anaheim too, and it’s got us tempted into a Spring trip down south.

Check out the Anaheim experts at Travel Best Bets – they can put together a package, no matter if your budget is high or anaheimsandcastlelow. Flights, hotels, cars, tickets… they can do it all to make you look good!  Right now, Sunquest has a special offer: book an Anaheim Vacation by February 28, 2017 and travel by December 31, 2017 and you get 25% off Disneyland Theme Park tickets. For Canadian residents only.

Not sure how to get to Anaheim? Westjet offers daily non-stop flights from Vancouver, and you can choose from more than 30 resorts for the whole family to stay. Air and hotel packages, plus car rentals too.

Prefer to cook for your family instead of eating out, but still want hotel comforts? Check out Residence Inn Marriott for suites with full kitchens and a complimentary daily breakfast. Or the Best Western Plus, with two options within short walking distance of the parks so even the little ones can do it. They’ve got pools and free Wifi too, for relaxing at the end of an adventure-filled day. The Springhill Suites Anaheim Maingate has Kids Suites with bunk beds, a free breakfast buffet that’s perfect for the kids, and even pet-friendly rooms too if you have to bring Fido along. A great solution for families who like road trips with all family members.

Of course, no trip to Anaheim is complete without a day (or two? or three?) at Disneyland and California Adventure Parks. Think it’s too busy or overwhelming? Not with the super efficient FastPass system and the Disneyland App where you can see wait times, entertainment schedules, and more.anaheim7

Is your family more of the Harry Potter types than Mickey Mouse? The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is now open at Universal Studios Hollywood with rides, experiences, attractions, shopping, and more.

Looking for something really different? Experience the excitement at the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in Buena Park where you’ll feast and watch the games of combat.

anaheim5If you need a break from the rides, Anaheim Resort Transportation has local partners that will take you to the beach in just over an hour. No need to rent a car or study the maps – just grab your sunscreen, a towel, and hit the sand and the waves for the whole day. While you’re in town, they’ve got transportation mapped out for you to all the major attractions.

Whew… Did you keep up? There’s a lot going on in Anaheim! (Did we mention hockey games too?!)

As the rain pours down outside, our day in the sand sure got us thinking about our plans for some sunny skies. Will we see you there in 2017?


Wood Smoke Health

It’s that time of year again for wood smoke heat. Some people use wood as their main source of heat, while others have wood stoves as a back-up. But wood smoke contains a number of pollutants that can be harmful to your health. If you use a wood stove or fireplace in your home, there are steps you can take to reduce the health risks for you, your family, and neighbours.

Protect yourself and your family by installing smoke detectors and at least one carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in your home.

Wood smoke and indoor air

Wood smoke can get into your home:

  • when you open the stove to add or stoke the firewood
  • through leaks and cracks in faulty or poorly-maintained stoves
  • from other nearby homes with wood-burning stoves

The main pollutants in wood smoke that cause health concerns are:

  • Particulate matter – This is the term for solid or liquid particles found in the air, which help create smog. They can be very small and can travel deep into your lungs, causing breathing and heart problems.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) – This is a colourless, odourless gas that is poisonous at high levels. It can make you feel sick and even kill you.
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – These are a wide range of compounds that usually have no colour, taste or smell. Some cause direct health effects, while others contribute to smog.
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) – These compounds are a health concern because they can cause cancer.

In communities where wood heating is common, wood smoke can be responsible for as much as 25% of the airborne particulate matter, 8% of the VOCs, and 7% of the CO in the air.

Wood smoke also contains small quantities of other toxic compounds, including nitrogen oxides and chlorinated dioxins. These can contribute to environmental hazards, like smog and acid rain.

Health risks

Wood smoke can cause eye, nose, and throat irritations, as well as headaches, nausea, and dizziness. It can make asthma and other breathing (respiratory) problems worse.

Smog, to which wood smoke can be a significant contributor, has been linked to severe health risks, including increased hospital admissions and even premature death.

Wood smoke can affect anyone, but these groups are especially vulnerable:

  • people with heart or lung problems
  • children, because their respiratory systems are still developing and they tend to be more active and inhale more air

Safety tips

Help reduce the environmental and health impacts of wood smoke by following these tips:

  • Switch your heating source. Switch to a different source of heating, like natural gas or oil.
  • Choose a low-emission stove. Install an “advance combustion” wood stove or fireplace insert to reduce toxic emissions. Look for appliances that have a sticker from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This sticker certifies that the appliance emits up to 95% fewer particulates and is up to 20% more fuel-efficient than regular models.
  • Maintain your stove. Make sure that your wood stove is well maintained and working properly. Have it inspected by a qualified professional at least once a year.
  • Clean your chimney. Clean your chimney and flues regularly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Use your dampers. Allow more air (ventilation) when starting a fire, and close the dampers when the wood is well charred. This technique produces more heat, so you use less wood.
  • Burn wisely. Avoid burning wood on days when air pollution levels are high.

The type of wood you burn and the way you store it also matters:

  • Use dry, seasoned wood. Cut, split, and stack wood in a dry area for at least six months before burning it.
  • Let wood breathe. Stack wood loosely in your firebox to let the air freely circulate around it.
  • Burn smaller pieces of wood. Small pieces are more efficient and a better source of heat.

Never burn:

  • wood that has been painted or chemically treated
  • household garbage or cardboard (plastics, foam, and coloured ink on magazines, boxes, and wrappers produce harmful chemicals when burned)
  • ocean driftwood, plywood, particle board, or any wood with glue on or in it (they all release toxic chemicals when burned)
  • wet, rotted, diseased, or mouldy wood (this may expose your family to mould and spores that can harm their health)

For more information, go to HealthyCanadians.com

Vancouver Baby & Family Fair opens TOMORROW!

The Vancouver Baby & Family Fair opens tomorrow for a weekend of fun at the Vancouver Convention Centre, and WestCoast Families will be there too!

The Vancouver Baby & Family Fair is a two-day consumer event for the whole family on October 29 & 30, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. There will be a wide variety of family related exhibitors selling products, supplies and accessories. In addition, there will also be live entertainment and hands-on attractions for the whole family!

Whether you have a toddler, a baby or a bump, our family event will provide you with an opportunity to shop specifically for products for your entire family under one roof. You will also have an opportunity to talk with professionals who can help to answer your questions.

“We open our doors tomorrow and could not be more excited to have families from all over Vancouver attend! You are guaranteed to learn a lot from our amazing speakers, including best-selling author and tech expert Amber Mac, while your kids have fun with their favourite TV characters” says Fair Producer Virginia Ritchie.

Vancouver Baby & Family Fair
When: Saturday October 29 and Sunday October 30
Where: Vancouver Convention Centre East Facility Hall A
Tickets: Only available at door & cash only: Day Pass: Adult $12;
Senior/Student Day Pass: $10. Children under 12: FREE

For more information about the upcoming fair and Amber’s seminars visit: http://www.baby-fair.com/amber-mac

Vancouver Baby & Family Fair 2 for 1 Coupon!

Just for WestCoast Families readers!  We’ll see you at the show this weekend for all the great information, local resources, shopping, and FUN for everyone in the family.


Or follow them on Facebook


First Phone for Kids?

Finding the right time to provide your child with their first phone can be a challenge, but research shows that the average age a child gets their first smartphone is 10.3 years old.

Sprint is providing a one-stop resource to help parents determine the right time to buy their child their first wireless phone. With the launch of “Kid’s First Phone” website, Sprint is providing expert advice, an online quiz and other information to help parents make this decision. There is even a customizable parent-child mobile contract to set parameters and agree upon rules and limits for uses of a mobile phone.

Did you know? According to Influence Central, in 2016:

  • The average age a child gets their first smartphone is 10.3 years old.
  • 64 percent of kids already have Internet access via personal tablets/laptops.
  • 1 in 2 kids will have a social media account by age 12.

In today’s world, the question of when to purchase a child’s first phone certainly deserves attention. A wireless phone means growing independence, ease of logistics/scheduling, safety and security, but there are also concerns about cyber-bullying, inappropriate content and even out-of-control spending.

Sprint’s “Kid’s First Phone” website serves as a trusted advisor for parents and includes expert advice from Katie Hurley, LCSW, psychotherapist and author of “The Happy Kid Handbook.” Parents can take a quiz to determine an individual child’s readiness for a wireless phone, download and customize a wireless phone contract for themselves and their child, and read/experience third-party commentary on this topic.

Advice from an Expert

“This website is a great opportunity to sit down with your child and engage in a thoughtful discussion and even sign a wireless contract to set rules and limits,” said Hurley. “One of the first things I advise is asking yourself why you want this for your child. Is your child mature enough? And, what is the specific need for the wireless phone? Start from there and you’ll be off to a good, healthy and fruitful discussion for the entire family.”

Celebrate Canada’s Birthday with Tulips!

Celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary next year with a stunning display of red and white tulips, the international symbol of friendship and an enduring symbol of our national ethos of kindness and hospitality.

There’s no better way to say Happy Birthday to Our Home and Native Land, and the Canadian Garden Council and Vesey’s Bulbs of Prince Edward Island want to help make it happen. Community groups are invited to apply for a “150th Celebration Garden” of red and white tulips, and homeowners are invited to purchase their own scaled down version for their gardens.

Community Groups such as public gardens, municipalities, schools, service organizations, horticultural societies and garden clubs are invited to apply for one of only 150 red-and-white Celebration Gardens, each containing 1,000 tulip bulbs, to be planted in the fall of this year and bloom in time to say “Happy Birthday Canada” in the spring of 2017. Applications for one of these gardens are being accepted on the Canada’s Garden Route website –www.canadasgardenroute.ca . Deadline for applications is August 8, 2016.

Home Gardeners can join the party with their very own Celebration Garden.  Vesey’s Bulbs is selling an exclusive, limited number – only 150 per region – of special Celebration Gardens for the home gardener, each containing 75 Red Impression and 75 White Hakuun tulip bulbs.  Each garden comes with an official “150th Celebration Garden” certificate.  Order now to avoid disappointment.  Details available at:  www.canadasgardenroute.ca

Develop Baby’s Hearing and Speech

Children’s Hearing & Speech Centre of BC (est. 1963) is providing tips to parents to help support listening and spoken language development in babies and children as part of Better Hearing and Speech month. The strategies are critical for children who have hearing loss, which the Centre serves, but also support academic and social/emotional development in typically hearing children.

“Children learn to speak by hearing language,” said Janet Weil, Executive Director and Principal of Children’s Hearing & Speech Centre of BC. “All parents – whether their children have typical hearing, are hard of hearing, or are deaf – can help their children learn to listen and speak by incorporating simple, but intentional activities into their daily household routines.”

To support listening skills and spoken language development, parents are encouraged to:

Get their baby’s hearing checked.
All babies born in BC are entitled to a hearing test soon after birth. Children are also offered a hearing screening in their kindergarten year. For more information, visit HealthLinkBC.
Promote literacy.
Read aloud to your child. Aim to read five books with your child each day. (Children with hearing loss should read between 15 and 20 books with an adult every day.) Read books, street signs, logos, look at the numbers and letters on license plates. Tell stories without books.
Turn off the TV or radio.
Minimize background noise. Little brains are trying to gather information, but it’s much too confusing to have to learn language when there is competing noise.
Sing with your child!
There is a part of our brain that remembers language through music. Sing to your baby about everything you are doing –with repetition and joy! Play music to dance to, sing along to, make music with instruments and handmade instruments. Copy rhythms and beats. Sing, sing, sing.
Use your words.
Talk about what you are doing and seeing and what your child is doing and seeing. Stretch your child’s language with lots of vocabulary and complex sentence structure.

Children’s Hearing & Speech Centre of BC is the only independent school of its kind in Western Canada and one of three in Canada that teaches children who are deaf and hard of hearing to listen and to speak. Through advances in technology and education, children are learning to speak for themselves and fully participate in the hearing world without the use of sign language.

CircusWest Dream Factory!

CircusWest is pleased to announce its newest show, Dream Factory Circus, and it debut at the PNE Garden Auditorium on May 12th-15th.
Dream Factory Circus is a steampunk inspired CircusWest original production unmasking the machinery in the mind that creates our dreams and nightmares. Follow young dreamers as they traverse into their fantasies and help bring them to reality through the magic of circus. Come fly with us as we soar into the unknown and discover amazing circus possibilities in this 90 minute circus spectacle at the PNE Gardens.
Come witness western Canada’s top young circus talent as they perform awe inspiring acts of coordination, balance, flight and daring as they dream big, push their limits, and in the end — defy gravity!
Get your tickets at www.circuswest.com

May 12th to 15th Shows @ 12:30pm & 7:00pm daily
PNE Garden Auditorium
$23 Adults, $17 Students/Seniors, $15 Youth (18 & under), $15 for Groups of 10+

Will Stroet Wordplay Release!

In for some musical fun? Don’t miss Will Stroet’s Wordplay CD Release Party at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver – Wosk Auditorium on April 17 at 11AM & 4:30 PM. The 11 am SHOW SOLD OUT, meaning a 2nd show added. Buy tickets early to save!

Join bilingual children’s performer and Kids’ CBC star Will Stroet for the release of his new album, “Wordplay.” Produced by Juno award-winning producer Steve Dawson in Nashville, this album is Will’s best yet and will engage kids in a fun variety of word games such as puns, spoonerisms, synonyms/antonyms, anagrams, palindromes, rap and poetry! Will has received a West Coast Songwriters Award, Parents’ Choice Approval Awards and multiple nominations from the Western Canadian Music Awards, Canadian Folk Music Awards and SiriusXM Indies.
Doors open 30-minutes prior to showtime with a screening of new music videos featuring songs from “Wordplay”! Babies 1 and under are free. Buy tickets early online before April 16th to save money.

WCF readers will receive $3 off tickets by ordering online here. For more info about Will, visit www.willmusic.ca.