Dear Readers: Today's SOUND OFF is about the lack of nurses in hospitals. - Heloise
"Dear Heloise: I was a patient in a hospital recently and was appalled by the lack of nurses on staff. My nurse greeted me and told me to call her on my cellphone if I needed anything, then gave me her number and left. What if I had fallen out of bed, couldn't get up and needed help or possibly had a stroke after surgery and couldn't talk?

"Hospitals charge a hefty amount of money for patient care, but I don't think we're getting the care we need. It's not that nurses aren't trained properly, there just are far too many patients for the limited number of nurses available.
"There was a time when American medicine was the best in the world. But is it still? I have every reason to believe it's gone downhill." - Henry P. in Atlanta

Dear Readers: Here are some storage options for tiny items like beads, sequins, snaps, etc:

• Empty pill bottles.

• Foam egg cartons.

• A compartment organizer for earrings.

• Fishing tackle box.

- Heloise

Dear Heloise: Want more juice from a lemon or lime? Cut the fruit in half, then cut off the bottom end and place in a citrus squeezer. - Helen B., Sitka, Alaska

Dear Heloise: I put my outdoor flag in my washing machine to clean it, and instead it was ruined. It shrank, and a little of the red color in the stripes bled into the white stripes. How should I have cleaned it? - Kay D., Columbus, Mo.

Kay, try to limit your flag's exposure to the elements, such as snow, rain and wind. Wash by hand with warm water and a mild soap. Thoroughly rinse, and if storing, make sure it is completely dry. Inspect your flag often. If it becomes too badly damaged to be flown, dispose of it properly. Check with the Veterans of Foreign Wars or any veterans organization on how to properly dispose of an old flag. - Heloise

Dear Heloise: There are a couple of old scams that your readers should be aware of and take measures to protect themselves. The "Can you hear me?" stunt is being used again. A caller assures the listener that this is not a sales call and will ask, "Can you hear me?" DO NOT answer. Hang up. They wait to hear you say "yes" and use your voice to OK credit cards and other purchases. The second scam is to tell you that your Microsoft license has expired. The caller will say to send a certain amount of money or give a credit card number and all will be well. This is a scam, and you should ignore it. Don't speak; just hang up on them. - Walter D., Amherst, Mass.

Dear Heloise: A while back, you printed a story from a woman who hated robocalls. First of all, they take advantage of the fact that most people are courteous. If it's a number you do not recognize, you can ignore the call. If you happen to pick up the phone, do not say anything - just listen. Oftentimes, our voice activates the robocall. When you say "hello," the recording on the other end is signaled to start a sales pitch. - Francis T., Lincroft, N.J.

Francis, robocalls selling all sorts of products and services have cropped up around the country. One of the worst is the IRS scam, which has robbed the American public of more than $300 million, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Many of the people affected were elderly. - Heloise

Dear Heloise: Can someone be allergic to MSG? I think I am, but my husband says it's impossible. - June S., Brookside, Del.

June, MSG, also known as monosodium glutamate, is a flavor enhancer that is used in a number of Chinese dishes, soups and processed meats. The Food and Drug Administration has deemed it safe to use, but a small percentage of people might have a mild negative reaction to MSG. Symptoms may include headache, sweating, rapid heartbeat, tingling or numbness of the face or neck, chest pain and nausea.

Although researchers haven't found out for sure that MSG causes these symptoms, it is best to avoid it if you have experienced any adverse reactions. - Heloise

Dear Readers: Ever wonder where a pimiento comes from? They're sweet red chili peppers, resembling a cherry tomato, and usually are found stuffed into a manzanillo olive to complement the saltiness of the olives. Pimiento peppers are a good source of vitamins A, C and B-6, and of copper. However, eating a large amount of pimientos can cause an upset stomach. - Heloise

Dear Heloise: Whenever I shop in a store that has shopping carts, I always hook the child seat belts through my purse straps, just in case someone is tempted to walk off with it. Love your hints. - Carol C., Eatontown, N.J.

Carol, be careful. Those straps can be undone very quickly, and it wouldn't be difficult for someone to come along and steal your purse when your back was turned. You're better off with a crossbody bag that you don't take off and leave in a shopping cart. - Heloise

Dear Heloise: All my cooking utensils get tangled up in a drawer. How do I prevent this? - Carrie-Ann in Ohio

First, put a small hand towel or kitchen towel in the drawer and secure it with thumbtacks. Next, place all utensils upside down in the drawer. This should solve the problem. You also can use a rubberized shelf liner in place of a towel. - Heloise

(c)2019 by King Features Syndicate Inc.