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DEAR READERS: When you think of celebrations like birthdays, weddings, graduations and gender reveals, you may think of helium balloons and balloon releases. Think again.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (fws.gov) is imploring people to stop the practice.

Why? Deflated balloons and strings can find their way into our oceans, parks and wildlife refuges, where they are mistaken for food and consumed by animals.

Turtles are most susceptible to ingesting the balloons and strings, which, of course, cannot pass through their delicate systems. And the strings get wrapped around legs, beaks, etc.

Here are some alternatives:

• Paper or cloth bunting signs.

• Paper flowers.

• Environmentally friendly bubbles.

DEAR HELOISE: With the sun out and people more active outdoors, can you give us the 411 on sunscreen?

-- David E. in Kentucky

DEAR READER: David, I'd be happy to do so. Not using sunscreen can potentially damage your skin and lead to wrinkling, sagging and worse.

Be sure to apply a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher about 15 minutes before you go outside. How much to apply? The average-size person needs about an ounce (a shot glass size) of sunscreen. Cover the face (avoid the eyes) and body. Don't forget ears, neck, the backs of your hands and the tops of your feet.

Other sun-safety suggestions? Stay indoors during peak hours (10 a.m.-2 p.m.), wear lip balm and cover exposed skin as much as possible. A floppy hat is not a bad idea either.

DEAR HELOISE: I've discovered a great use for cotton swabs. I use them to clean the very narrow rubber crevices on our refrigerator door. Works great in one sweep with a little vinegar or water.

Also, I use them to clean small moving parts in my single-brew coffee maker.

-- A Reader, via email

DEAR HELOISE: We got a new puppy. We want her to be friendly and not timid or afraid. So we are socializing her a little bit every day. We take her out to meet other dogs and people at the park. Not for too long -- maybe an hour.

-- Brittany B., age 13,

in Texas

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

Heloise@Heloise.com

HomeStyle on 07/13/2019

Print Headline: Helpful Hints

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