Dear Heloise:

I would like to advise people to STOP and remember to do something that could save them thousands of dollars if they would only take a minute: Turn off the water at the main valve before going on vacation!

My brother and his wife just returned from a two-week vacation to find that they had an upstairs toilet that had sprung a leak while they were away, and it must have run water for at least two days.

This was not an older home -- in fact, it was fairly new. But the water hose that goes into the tank came loose and then came off, allowing water to continuously run.

Now they have to replace a lot of kitchen cabinets, flooring, carpets, ceilings and some walls! In order to do that, they have to move out of their home for at least three months. You just never know what can go wrong while you are out.

So, please turn off the water when leaving for a vacation.

L.A.L., via e-mail

Dear Heloise:

Concerning the lady who had a problem getting her patterns folded to fit back in the envelope: I put them in a zipper-type plastic bag.

Fold the pattern and, along with the original envelope it came in, put it in a plastic bag, with the picture side of the pattern showing. If necessary, press the pattern the next time you use it. Works for me, and I've been sewing for 60 years.

Carmen

Elizabethtown, Ky.

Dear Heloise:

My hint is for summer picnics. A few years ago, I purchased several wicker paper-plate holders. Before a picnic, I snap four inexpensive paper plates into each holder.

After we finish a course (or before going for seconds), we simply remove the top dirty plate and pitch it in the trash can, and we are now ready for the next course.

No more salad dressing with dessert.

Nancy Savage

Waynesboro, Pa.

Dear Heloise:

When packing boxes using those "peanuts," put them loosely in plastic bags and tie them shut, then arrange them around the items. The receiver will really appreciate not having a mess.

Gayla, via e-mail

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com. Please include your city and state when faxing or using e-mail. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.

(c)2004, King Features Syndicate