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Hints from Heloise: Large appliances need regular care

Also, empty film containers and salt packets are handy

Dear Readers: Here are some safety hints for your home or office concerning LARGE APPLIANCES that will save you worry and money:

Keep the refrigerator motor cool by vacuuming the air vent often. Also, occasionally check the drip pan for signs of leaks and the freezer for ice buildup.

Periodically check for clogs or leaks in the drain hoses of the dishwasher and washing machine.

Be sure the lint filter on the dryer is clean before EVERY use.

Change or clean the filters on the air conditioner/heater once a month if recommended by the manufacturer or as suggested, depending on the type of filter, and while you're at it, inspect for signs of mold.

Be sure to dump crumbs out of the toaster and the computer keyboard.

Perhaps most important: Check the cords on all appliances for worn areas that could start a fire. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: I could not travel without my pillboxes and empty film containers. I use them for everything, like storing safety pins, jewelry and change. I can even put my daughter's name, address, phone and cell numbers in one to put in my purse in case of an accident. So many uses. — Peggy Jo, Middletown, Ohio

Dear Heloise: You recently published a load of really good hints about salt and pepper packets. I am a BIG fan of salt (probably more than I should be) and have a couple for you.

I always keep a few packets of salt in my purse; I live in the South, and I love to stop at farm stands when we travel by car and always buy a few beautiful homegrown tomatoes, which I clean off right on the spot with premoistened towelettes. I then take one of my salt packets and eat one standing right there!

While traveling by car, I always take a picnic basket. Of course, there has to be a saltshaker in there. I use it when we reach our destination and at rest stops. To keep it from spilling, I remove the top and stuff in a little piece of tissue. When ready for use, I simply remove it. — Savannah Busby-Whitworth, Anniston, Ala.

Dear Heloise: I read your column about putting laminated photos on a metal ring for a 9-month-old. Because we live seven hours from our granddaughters, I printed digital family pictures for the first one when she was tiny, but I used the small, rigid, plastic covers available for baseball trading cards and put those on a ring. Not expensive, plus they're durable. — Almeda Edwards, Ottawa, Kan.

Dear Heloise: I enjoy your helpful hints in our local paper. I'm happy to give you mine.

I bought inexpensive paper plates, dinner-size, to use over casseroles, bowls of soup or whatever I want to heat in my microwave. I keep them close to my microwave, where they are handy. You'll find them very handy, too. — M.S. in Iowa

Yup, this is one of my all-time favorite hints, too! — Heloise

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000; fax: 1-210-HELOISE; e-mail: © King Features Syndicate Inc.