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Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 2:02 p.m.
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Helpful Hints

By Heloise

This article was published July 22, 2014 at 1:46 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: In a recent column, a reader mentioned a closed-captioning feature, and you commented, "Some TVs do not have this feature."

I want all of your readers to know that closed captioning is required by law on all TVs over 13 inches, and on all digital cable boxes. It may not be as easy to set up as simply pressing the mute button, but it may come in handy for some people. Refer to the instruction manuals. Also, you can leave the sound up while the captions are going.

-- Karen D. in Nebraska

DEAR READER: Karen, thanks for the update. All analog TVs 13 inches or larger are required by the government (since 1993) to have closed captioning. All digital television receivers also are required (since 2002) to have it. But for those with older TVs (as many of us have), maybe it's time for a new one.

DEAR HELOISE: I was cooking carrots in the microwave and noticed some sparks. I know not to ever place metal in the microwave (including gold-trimmed dishes), but carrots?! Please explain.

-- Cynthia D., via email

DEAR READER: Yes, it could have been the carrots. Those sparks are from "arcing." Arcing usually happens when microwaves react with something metal. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture says arcing also can occur when you cook hot dogs and carrots. How? Hot dogs contain additives and salts that can be unevenly mixed, and carrots can still have minerals on them from the dirt they were grown in. The microwaves react to these things by arcing.

If arcing happens, turn off the microwave immediately. This will prevent damage to it, and maybe prevent a fire. If it is caused by food, finish cooking that food on the stove. And if it is caused by metal on a dish (which you know not to use), use a microwave-safe one.

DEAR HELOISE: After the kids were a little rambunctious in the pool, I was left with a couple of broken pool noodles. I use them as a base for wreaths. You can attach items or specific things to create a holiday theme, and you are recycling.

-- Michelle P. in Florida

DEAR HELOISE: The holes on my shower curtain and liner wore out while the curtain was still good. I came up with a solution. Duct tape comes in so many colors and patterns. I found one I liked and used it over the top of the shower curtain. The holes don't wear out as fast.

-- Y.T., via email

DEAR READER: Lost your zipper fob? In a pinch, use a bobby pin or a safety pin. Insert the pin in the hole of the pull and out the other side. Helps pull your zipper up and down with ease.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

Heloise@Heloise.com

ActiveStyle on 07/22/2014

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