Dear Readers: Autumn is the perfect time for renovations. Whether replacing ceiling fans, reorganizing cabinets or adjusting curtains, a step stool is helpful and practical. Lots of people have purchased collapsible or folding step stools to save space. The dangers of these stools need to be taken into consideration. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently released a report noting that some of the stools might collapse or break during use. Here are some recommendations from the CPSC about how to buy a safe step stool:

* Make sure the stool is sturdy. Ask to see a demonstration of the stability of the stool, or ask if you can try it out yourself.

* Look for stools with a handrail. It’s only CPSC-recommended if you can stand on the top step and still have a firm grasp on the handrail.

* When using your step stool, try to have someone nearby in case you need help. Check that the stool is completely opened and stable on a dry, flat surface.

Research the products you are thinking about buying, and ask about recalls or CPSC approval before buying a new stool. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I bought a case for my daughter that could be used to pack her flat iron when she spends a night away from home. There were so many decorative designs! I asked my daughter if I could have the case when she isn’t using it. It makes a great holder for mail, grocery lists, coupons, etc. It won’t get lost in my purse, and I know right where it is! -- Kendra, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: Here is my “system” regarding receipts: I have file folders in a drawer (a box also will do). I place each receipt in the appropriate folder, labeled “auto expenses,” “groceries,” “household,” “medical,” etc. If I can’t remember where I got a grocery item I liked, I can go to “groceries” and find it immediately. If I got several different items at the same store, I just make copies and file them. It also is very helpful at tax time to separate the items necessary for preparing taxes. -- B.W. in West Virginia


Dear Heloise: You can recycle any of those unused hair rollers sitting in a closet or drawer! Take three or four (or more if needed), place a rubber band around the rollers and then tape the bottom of the rollers inside a flower vase. Place your flowers through the holes to keep them standing up. Works well with real or plastic flowers. -- Anna, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: I have a few watches without batteries because I forgot the number on the battery. Now, when I need a new battery, I mark the number of the battery on the lid of the package. No more guessing. -- Arlene in Ohio

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state.

2012, King Features Syndicate