Helpful Hints – Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

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DEAR HELOISE: Nearly seven years ago, I lost my son in a boating accident. He was only 5 years old and didn’t know how to swim. I always thought I’d enroll him in swimming classes when he got a little older.

My ex took him out for a boat ride on the lake, and although he had on a life jacket, it wasn’t fastened in front, and he slipped out of it when he fell out of the boat. In only a matter of minutes he was gone forever. I can’t stress enough how important it is for a child to learn this valuable skill. If my son had known how to swim he might have survived.

I’ve since learned that even infants can be taught how to swim. It’s wonderful exercise, and you never know when it might come in handy. I would urge every parent to see to it that their child is taught to swim and to not be afraid of the water.

— Laura S., Waukesha, Wis.

DEAR READER: Swimming is an easy skill to learn, and everyone should know how to swim. If nothing else, a swimmer can be taught how to float or do a back stroke if they become tired while swimming. Knowing how to swim has saved many lives, including my own.

DEAR READERS: Things your child should know before entering kindergarten:

• Their full name, address and phone number.

• How to make a phone call.

• The names of colors.

• How and when to say “please” and “thank you.”

• How to dress themselves, tie their shoelaces and comb their hair.

DEAR HELOISE: With summer comes camping for my family. We love getting out to enjoy the outdoors, cooking over a campfire and hiking. The only problem is that we need to clean our sleeping bags. What should I do to get them clean?

— Lisa H., Aspen, Colo.

DEAR READER: First look for the directions on a label that should be attached to your sleeping bag and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Most bags can be washed, and if your sleeping bag is one of those, use warm water on a gentle cycle. You will probably have to use the spin cycle twice to get all of the excess water out. One of the best ways to dry your sleeping bag is to unzip it and spread it out on the patio or clothesline and let it dry in the sun. Have fun camping!

DEAR HELOISE: I had a dripping faucet, and although my dad said he could fix it, he couldn’t get to my place until the weekend. The dripping was driving me crazy, so I tried one of your suggestions. I tied a string around the faucet and got the water to run down the string and into the drain. At least I didn’t have to listen to a dripping faucet for three days.

— Brenda L., Englewood, N.J.

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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