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By Heloise

This article was published March 18, 2014 at 2:11 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: Please tell people to read the information on the box of the compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) that we must use now. You can’t buy the “regular” light bulbs anymore. (Heloise here: On Jan. 1, the final government phasing out of standard incandescent bulbs went into effect. You will no longer be able to buy them, unless there is some stock in stores. Americans will be able to purchase only the more energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs.)

The new light bulbs have mercury. I have no idea what you are to do if you drop one in the house and it breaks. Sounds dangerous to me.

  • A Reader in Ohio

DEAR READER: CFLs do contain a small amount of mercury (LEDs do not), so there are cautionary steps you should take if one breaks. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you:

Get all people and pets out of the house.

Open all windows and doors to air out the room.

Turn off central forced air conditioning/heating.

Wear protective, disposable gloves.

Pick up glass using cardboard or similar-weight paper. Pick up powder and smaller glass fragments using the sticky side of duct tape. Use damp paper towels for cleanup on hard surfaces.

Place all pieces of bulb residue and cleanup items in a sealable plastic bag or a glass jar with a lid.

Do not vacuum until as much residue has been collected as possible. Then promptly dispose of the vacuum bag.

P.S.: This does seem to be a big to-do about something small. Use care when cleaning up a broken CFL bulb, but don’t let it panic you. Just use common sense and take the precautions above.

DEAR HELOISE: I have a use for ruined pantyhose. Lay them out flat, cut off the foot and then continue cutting at 2-inch intervals all the way up the leg. This makes several stretchy bands in various sizes. They are strong and can be used for anything. I have used them as ponytail holders, and to secure boxes and rolls of gift wrap.

  • Lynne D., via email

DEAR HELOISE: I use the plastic bag from the newspaper to discard the used tissues when I have a cold. It is sanitary, and it keeps the cold germs enclosed rather than open to the room.

  • Margaret in Pennsylvania 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

Style, Pages 32 on 03/18/2014

Print Headline: HELPFUL HINTS


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