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SERVICE'S PHONE NUMBER IS NO LONGER IN SERVICE

Dear Do-It Man: I renewed my subscription to Soap Opera Digest for three years. My current subscription expired in April. I renewed the subscription through a subscription service called National Discount Circulation Service in Oklahoma City.

I haven't received the May issue. I tried to phone the company at its toll-free number but it has been disconnected.Please see what you can find out.

- B.L., Kaysville

Dear B.L.: We weren't able to find out too much. Only that both the company's toll-free number and its regular phone number are disconnected; that the Oklahoma City Better Business Bureau's report on the company says it failed to eliminate the cause of customer complaints; and that the address is a mail drop.

We also found that the postal inspector in Oklahoma City has received complaints about the company. The inspector we spoke to on the phone is mailing you a complaint form to fill out.

In the meantime, if you want your magazine subscription to continue, you'll have to divvy up more money and resubscribe.

New device prevents scalding in the shower

A new device designed to prevent scalding in the shower is so simple that almost anyone can install it in a few minutes. It is part of a line of products called Memry Safe made by the Memry Corp. of Brookfield, Conn., and costs about $15.

The typical home water heater delivers water at 140 degrees or even 160 degrees, even though a comfortable shower is only slightly above 100 degrees.

The risks of scalding, which can occur with temperatures over 120 degrees, are severe. It kills about 100 people every year in the United States. Young children are especially vulnerable because they have thin skin. Experts say that water at 140 degrees will produce third-degree burns on a child in three seconds.

A sure way to prevent scalding is to turn down the thermostat, but that decreases the effectiveness of dishwashers and washing machines. Experts recommend scald-protection devices, but many must be installed by plumbers, which can push the cost to hundreds of dollars.

The Memry device is a pipe about the size and shape of a roll of quarters, with threads that make it impossible to put on backward. It is installed by removing the shower head, attaching the pipe to the arm, then screwing the shower head into the new pipe.

Inside the pipe is a piece of titanium alloy that expands when it reaches 120 degrees. As it expands, it chokes off the flow to all but a few drops. (These drops are necessary so that when the person in the shower turns the knob to cold, some of the cooler water will flow through, cool the metal and reopen the shower.)

And if flushing a toilet produces a surge in hot water in the shower, the device will shut off the water in about three seconds, before serious damage is done.

- Matthew L. Wald,

New York Times News Service