Dear Heloise: In a recent column, you passed on a hint from a lady in Florida about packing what she would need in case of an evacuation in 32-gallon, lock-down trash cans. Great idea. As a meteorologist, I used to speak about emergency preparedness. I talked to a lot of people who had lost their homes. They did not cry over their clothes, but their hearts were broken by the little things: the picture that could not be replaced, a mother's wedding ring, etc. Would you kindly consider another hint?

If you live in hurricane territory or any other area where you might have to evacuate abruptly — like flood, wildfire and even volcano areas — make a prioritized list now of what you need to take so you will not have to make rushed, last-minute decisions. Remember to include on that list the few personal things that can never be replaced, that hold unique value to you. Clothes can be replaced; your beloved grandmother's wedding ring cannot. Personally, I think every family, whether in an obviously threatened area or not, should have such a list. — S.J. Matejka, via e-mail

You are absolutely right. Many people say, "It could never happen to me," and then it does! Folks, take 10 minutes to "test" yourself. If you had to evacuate in an hour, what would you take? Do you know where the important papers are? Play the mental game . . . you might be shocked! — Heloise

Dear Readers: You can't control the cost of gasoline, but you can change how much you use. Here are some cost-cutting hints to help you get the most from the high prices at the pump:

Empty the trunk or cargo area — the lighter the load, the less fuel your engine needs to run.

Check tire inflation often. If the tires are underinflated, your engine is working harder and using more gas. But be careful — overinflating will wear out tires faster.

Clean the air filter. A dirty one will tax the engine.

Avoid the impulse to floor it. You'll save gas if you accelerate slowly.

Plan ahead. Coordinate errands instead of making several small trips.

Finally, keep up with repairs and routine maintenance. Check fluid levels, and don't forget the gas filter — your owner's manual will tell you where everything is and at what levels they should be maintained.

Remember, a 10 percent increase in the mileage you get is equal to a free fill-up at the pump about every 10th visit. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: When I fell and broke my leg earlier this year, I was confined to bed or a wheelchair. If I needed something or was just lonely, I used my cell phone to call our house phone in order to get my husband. It saved a lot of time and trouble on my part, since I didn't have to get into the wheelchair to go look for him. — Heloise Sanders, Brady, Texas

Dear Heloise Sanders: What a catchy name! — Heloise

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or e-mail it to I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column. © King Features Syndicate Inc.