Christmas is coming and the government wants you to be on your best behavior, so good advice is flowing from the Transportation Department, the post office and the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Postal Service wants your cards and letters to arrive safely, and the other two agencies want you to do the same."The best defense in a motor vehicle crash is a seat belt," Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater said Tuesday at a pre-Thanksgiving event sponsored by the Air Bag Safety Campaign.
The National Safety Council, sponsor of the campaign, estimated that 124 people will be killed over the Thanksgiving weekend because they failed to fasten their sear belts.
The post office, meanwhile, said it is hiring 40,000 temporary workers to help handle the mail increase, along with 100 added airplanes and 16 million more sacks and trays for mail.
A few problems have been reported in finding enough new workers, notably in Texas and Ohio, but officials said that in general enough new staffers have been found.
Americans are expected to send more than 5 billion cards and letters in December, the agency said. It has established a special section on its World Wide Web site - www.usps.gov - to assist mailers.
Among the advice is the usual: Mail early and use complete addresses and return addresses, preferably typed.
The department urges checking ZIP codes, using tape designed for shipping and cushioning gifts in plastic foam, newspaper or unbuttered popcorn.
Packages that weigh more than a pound must be taken to the post office for mailing because of security regulations.
Speaking of security, the FAA points out that the extra holiday crowd will tax airport security screening systems. The FAA's suggestions to avoid delays:
- Arrive early. Large holiday crowds coupled with security measures may increase the time needed to check in.
- Parking lots may be full, so consider using public transportation or having a friend drop you off. If driving, add extra time to your schedule.
- Don't leave your car unattended in front of the terminal. At some airports, it may be towed.
- Have your photo identification handy; you will be asked to show it.
- Put your name on your bags and be prepared to answer questions about who packed them and whether you left them unattended.
- Both carry-on and checked bags are subject to being hand-searched, so it's a good idea to leave gifts unwrapped until after you reach your destination. If airline security personnel cannot determine by X-ray the contents of a package, they can and will open it.
- Do not joke about having a bomb or firearm in your possession. Penalties can be severe, possibly prison time or fines.
- Watch your luggage. Keep your eyes open for unattended packages and baggage, and report them to authorities. Don't accept packages from strangers.