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Preparing for disaster

Dear Heloise: I have some hints on how to put together a disaster emergency kit. This season has been rough, with flooding, hurricanes and fires. Here are some items we keep on hand for these situations:

• Batteries, flashlight, radio, cellphone and an extra cellphone charger.

• Bottled water, canned food and a can opener.

• Toolkit and first-aid kit.

• Blankets and extra clothes to layer on.

If we lose electricity in a storm, we consume foods in the refrigerator first, but keep the fridge and freezer closed as much as possible. We follow directions from media outlets as they become available. -- Don M., Seguin, Texas

It's always smart to be prepared. Thanks for writing in. -- Heloise

Ants begone!

Dear Heloise: Tiny "ghost ants" were entering my home by coming under the sliding glass doors. Now, once a month, I spray vinegar on the track. Presto -- no more ants! -- Buddy N., The Villages, Fla.

Give all my friends in The Villages a big Heloise hello! I'm all for safe, nontoxic household solutions, and vinegar is a great one! It's also cheap and readily available. Want more uses for vinegar? Visit www.Heloise.com to order, or send a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Label all homemade cleaning/concoction bottles clearly. -- Heloise

And here's another letter about problems with ants:

Invaders from the earth

Dear Heloise: I have an ant problem in my kitchen. How do I get rid of them without hiring an exterminator? Love your column in the Staten Island Advance! -- Suzanne L., Staten Island, N.Y.

Suzanne, there are some simple things you can do. First, if you can, find the nest and pour about 3 gallons of boiling water, mixed with one lemon cut into quarters (skin and all), down the center of the mound.

Make sure your kitchen counters/ sinks/floors never have food of any kind on them and are always dry; ants will search for water. Wash the counters or any area where ants come in with a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. This will erase the scent trail ants use to return to food. -- Heloise

Take a break

Dear Readers: The boss might not like this, but it's a fact: Taking breaks throughout your workday can increase your productivity.

You need to rest your eyes from your computer -- this will help with stress headaches, too. A walk around, if it's feasible, will allow you to stretch your legs and get some fresh air.

Taking breaks helps you accomplish more at work, and that should please the boss! -- Heloise

Don't worry -- be happy

Dear Heloise: My hint is simple: I don't worry about things I can't control. This mindset has given me freedom! -- Annalisa G. in New York