Dear Readers: Next week, March 16-22, is National Poison Prevention Week. Here are some good hints from the Poison Prevention Week Council and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on how to prevent accidental poisonings:
* Store all household cleaning products out of reach of children and pets, preferably in a locked cabinet.
* When using chemicals or household cleaning products, do so in a well-ventilated area, and wear protective clothing when necessary.
* Never combine cleaning products or chemicals. Toxic fumes may be released.
* Teach children not to eat, drink or touch anything before asking an adult.
* Do not call medicine "candy" when giving it to children. It can confuse them, and they might accidentally take medicine, thinking it is "candy."
* When taking or giving medicine, always turn on a light to make sure the right dosage is given.
* Clean up any chemical or cleaning-product spills immediately.
* Wash your hands after cleaning with or handling cleaning products, chemicals, pesticides, etc.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning, call Poison Help at 800-222-1222, or dial 911. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: I often find my microwave covered inside with splatters after the kids have used it. Telling them to use a paper towel to cover their dishes obviously doesn't always work. I have found that a wet paper towel works well to clean the splatters, but for more stubborn food, I make a paste using baking soda and water. Nice, clean microwave every time! - Nancy P. in Tennessee
You have discovered one of my favorite ways to use baking soda when cleaning. It has many uses and is inexpensive, so I keep plenty stocked in my house. I use baking soda in so many ways that I wrote my pamphlet Heloise's Baking Soda Hints. Take your empty grated-cheese container, clean it out and refill with baking soda. Keep one in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room for quick cleanups. - Heloise
Dear Heloise: I have trouble throwing away cards and letters. I also don't want to simply store them, and I don't like clutter. My solution is to use them as bookmarks. Every time I pick up a particular book, I'm reminded of the person who wrote me, and of his or her thoughtfulness, and I get to again enjoy the images that accompanied the correspondence. - P.F., Placentia, Calif.