Dear Readers: One of life’s conveniences is an AUTOMATED TELLER MACHINE that allows us to quickly get cash anytime. However, before using an ATM, there are some safety hints to follow, according to the American Bankers Association:

* Whether using a walk-up or drive-up ATM, make sure it is in a well-lit area, and look around before starting your transaction.

* If in a car, keep the engine running, and have your bank card out and ready to use. Lock the doors and all windows you will not be using.

* At a walk-up ATM, if others are around, block the keypad while punching in information.

* When inserting the ATM card, look for signs that there may be a skimming device attached (gluelike residue, scratches or any damage, loose parts). Contact the bank if you think the machine has been tampered with.

* Once you are done with your transaction, take all cash and receipts with you. DO NOT stand at the ATM and count your cash. Wait until you are alone and in a safe place.

-- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Since transportation is a problem for me, whenever I get to a store, I stock up on greeting cards. To avoid wondering “Now, who or what is this for?” I write the name of whom the card is for and the date I need to mail it in the spot for the stamp. -- Kay W., Billings, Mont.


Dear Heloise: My family loves to eat salads, and we each have our favorite salad dressing. For some reason, one salad dressing will come with a plastic top that has a hole for dispensing dressing, while other manufacturers’ dressings have no such plastic top. The dressing can just pour out, and you get far more than you were expecting or wanting.

After finishing a bottle that had the plastic piece, I removed it carefully by placing the tine of a fork in the hole and popping it out of the neck of the bottle. I then washed the piece and placed it on the dressing bottle that had no such top. It is amazing how many different bottles the plastic piece fits into! No more worrying about too much dressing! -- Stacy F. in New Jersey


Dear Heloise: Many of us have an insulated casserole caddy. I have one that is big enough for a 9-by-13-inch cake pan. I use it to tote food to and from places, but I also use it at home to keep things hot while we wait for dinner or something else to finish cooking. Just thought it would help someone else realize that it can be used for more than one reason. -- C.B. in Texas


Dear Heloise: Thank you for your many helpful hints. I save plastic grocery bags with handles for the local library. They gladly use them to protect books checked out on rainy days. -- Maria G. in Texas

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, or e-mail it to

, King Features Syndicate