Helpful Hints

DEAR HELOISE: I do home repairs all the time because it’s my profession. And I have some hints that might save someone from a trip to the ER or burning their house down to the ground.

A ladder is one of the best tools you can own and potentially one of the most dangerous. Just make certain you read ALL of the instructions that come with it for weight and height limits. Please, do not think standing on a chair is safe, because it’s not. There are many different types of ladders, so pick one you need for around the house. Use a fiberglass ladder when working around electricity.

Use both hands when climbing a ladder, and use either a belt or a bucket to store your tools in. If you use a bucket, either tie a rope to the handle and hoist it up after you get to the top or have someone hand you your tools as needed.

Know your limitations! I can’t stress this enough. Usually, plumbing and electrical work are better left to the pros.

Any time you work around an electrical saw, be extra cautious. Pay attention, and never work with an electrical saw when you are tired. Mistakes happen. Don’t let one of your fingers or a hand be one of those mistakes.

— Lance W., Orem, Utah

DEAR HELOISE: Recently, while my husband and I were in Amish country, we saw people trying to take photos of Amish people who had asked them repeatedly to not take their picture. Still, these rude people kept trying to get them to pose. The Amish placed their hands over their faces or looked down to avoid a picture being taken. It’s little wonder Americans are considered rude and disrespectful in other countries. If someone says, “No pictures, please,” why can’t tourists just back off?

— Lacey A., Lancaster, Pa.

DEAR READER: I agree with you. Taking photographs of others is terribly rude if you are asked not to take their picture. The Amish feel it’s vain and unnecessary, and it is part of their religion to shun picture taking. So, if you are traveling through Amish country, please respect their wishes on this and other customs.

DEAR HELOISE: I have a rule of thumb that I follow, and it’s served me well for many years. I only use my credit card for an emergency. I pay off the purchase and don’t use it again until that purchase is paid off. A purse on sale or a trip is not an emergency. A pair of shoes might be on sale, but I got along just fine without them before the sale, so common sense tells me I cannot have them if my card has more than a zero balance. The day will come when you have something serious to deal with, and you’ll need to put that expense on a card. If your credit score is bad, your credit card company won’t help you. So keep the credit cards for emergencies only, and that card will be there to help you in a serious situation.

— Lois T., Henderson, Nev.

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

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