Published Dec. 30, 2008|Updated Dec. 30, 2008

Before you crank up the heater the next time, check that you aren't accidentally exposing yourself to harmful carbon monoxide gas. Colorless, odorless and tasteless, carbon monoxide is an invisible threat that can be deadly, the American Association of Poison Control Centers warns. Furnaces, space heaters, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are all potential sources of carbon monoxide. Typical symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include aches, dizziness, headaches and flu-like symptoms. Some advice (and go to for more information):

- Have your furnace, chimney, fireplace, wood stoves and flues inspected.

- Never use charcoal grills indoors.

- Don't leave your engine running in a garage, even if the door is open.

- Install a carbon monoxide detector outside every sleeping area in your home.

Get kids moving at a young age

There might be a way to predict whether young children will grow into active teens - or fall prey to a more sedentary lifestyle. The key? Motor skills. A study published in the December issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise put 276 elementary school kids in Australia through movement skill tests. Three were related to object control (kicking, catching and overhand throwing), and four were focused on locomotor skills (hopping, side galloping, vertical jumping and sprinting). Six years later, 244 students had their cardio-respiratory fitness measured. Boys and girls who had good object-control skills ran, on average, six extra laps than those with poor object-control skills. To promote later cardio fitness, the study authors wrote: "It is important that such skills are taught during the primary or elementary school years as children are at an optimal age in terms of motor skill learning."

Make sure little ones get enough D

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently increased its recommended vitamin D guidelines for children. You might wonder if your child gets enough. Ask your child's pediatrician the next time you're in the office. Meanwhile, here are a couple of suggestions from Christiane Wert Rivard, registered dietitian and member of the Vitamin Shoppe Advisory Board: Vitamin D comes in capsule, soft gel and calcium-rich forms. There are also chewable versions in peppermint, and separate lines of vegan supplements. There's also Liquid D that can be added to juice and smoothies and come in a variety of flavors.


"There is no truth to the legend, dating back to colonial times in New England, that to stretch scanty winter food supplies, old people were given herbs and moonshine until they passed out and were then taken outside, frozen, and packed in wood and straw until spring when they were thawed out."

David Dary, author of Frontier Medicine: From the Atlantic to the Pacific, 1492-1941 (Knopf, $19.80, 400 pages)