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DEAR HELOISE: I have some suggestions on brushing our teeth:

First, throw out a toothbrush after you have a cold or anything that causes germs to travel. Next, if you run out of toothpaste, you can use baking soda and salt. It doesn't taste too good and it's abrasive, but it does the job. And circular brushing works best.

-- A retired hygienist in New Hampshire

DEAR HELOISE: I read your column in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and have a few suggestions for elderly people:

• Subscribe to a newspaper (daily if possible). They toss mine on the driveway and I pick it up every morning, thus alerting my neighbors that I'm up and about.

• If you still drive and go out for errands, when you return home, park in a slightly different spot. This alerts neighbors that you've been out and about during the day.

• Join a neighborhood watch program that your local police department might have.

• Stay in contact with family and friends by phone calls, emails or even letters. Let them know you're OK.

-- A.J. Dubiel,

Ontario, Calif.

DEAR READER: These are all ideas that make a lot of sense for anyone who lives alone. It not only gives you peace of mind, but those who care about you as well.

DEAR HELOISE: To store gift-wrapping paper, I use a five-gallon paint bucket that I bought at a home improvement store. It holds the numerous rolls of paper that I have accumulated and prevents them from unraveling or getting crushed in the closet.

I also found a tool apron that uses self-adhering straps to wrap around the bucket. It has storage pockets that hold gift-wrapping accessories such as scissors, tape, ribbon and bows. -- Betty in New York

DEAR HELOISE: When I shower, the shower curtain liner billows in and clings to my body while I'm showering. Is there anything I can do about this annoyance?

-- Marilyn in Louisiana

DEAR READER: I can fix this problem for you. Try pinning or sewing fishing weights or heavy washers every six to 12 inches along the bottom of the liner. The extra weight should prevent the billowing. Some shower curtain liners already have suction cups or weights attached. Be sure the liner hangs down into the tub more than an inch or two, or hang the rod lower.

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

[email protected]

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