Dear Heloise:

I am writing to inform you and your readers about the very serious issue of window-cord safety. Outdated window coverings in children's bedrooms and play areas can pose a strangulation risk to infants and toddlers.

I hope that you will help spread the word about this potential hazard. It could save the life of a child.

Since 1991, more than 175 infants and children have died from accidentally strangling in window cords. Children's cribs are often placed near a window, where the child can reach the looped cords. In recent years, the window-covering industry has redesigned all corded products and developed cord-safety standards.

In addition, cordless miniblinds, pleated shades and vertical blinds are now widely available. If all of your readers would take a few minutes to childproof their window coverings or replace them with updated products, millions of homes would be safer for young children.

The Window Covering Safety Council will provide tassels, cord stops, tie-down devices and how-to instructions free of charge to anyone who phones the organization at 800-506-4636 or visits www.windowcoverings.org.

Please urge your readers to check their window cords. It could mean the difference between life and death.

Peter Rush

Executive Director

Window Covering

Safety Council

Readers, please take advantage of this today. The WCSC also suggests moving all cribs, beds, furniture and toys away from windows and window cords, preferably against another wall.

Dear Heloise:

I just sent a package to our son-in-law in Afghanistan. I baked banana bread in a small metal coffee can. I let it cool and then sealed it with shrink-wrap. I also baked cookies that fit in the coffee can. In the package I put jerky and used it to cushion the cans. My son-in-law just called to say that everything arrived super -- the cake was still moist and fresh-tasting, and the cookies were crisp and not crumbled. Delivery did take almost three weeks.

Gaby Linnen, Lewes, Del.

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(c)2004, King Features Syndicate