Dear Heloise: Since hand sanitizer is in short supply these days, I keep a pair of thin gardening gloves in the door pocket of my SUV for when I pump gas. So now my gloves keep my hands safe from germs. Every time I pump gas using the gloves, as soon as I get back in the car, I remove them and put them in a plastic bag and bring them home to toss in the wash right away. - Trena in California

Trena, this is a great idea, especially now when we must be extra careful. You might want to keep a spare pair just in case you have another errand the same day, such as using an ATM. - Heloise


Dear Readers: We have received a significant number of emails and letters from readers asking about IRS scams and how to avoid being a victim of fraudsters. Here are some hints to avoid the scammers:

• Hang up on calls that claim to be from the IRS. An IRS agent is NOT going to contact you by text messages, social media or email. They typically send you a letter. Nor will they threaten you with police action, to drag you to jail or to deport you. Nor will they take away your Social Security.

• Never give out your Social Security number, no matter what they tell you.

• Beware of "ghost preparers." A professional tax preparer must have an identification number, and they always sign your return. Ghost tax preparers who are frauds won't sign your return. To check on whether your tax preparer has the right credentials, go to

• The IRS has an online resource where you can report identity theft at

Don't ignore the Census

Dear Readers: It's Census time, when the formal count of the population of the entire United States is taken.
Our Founding Fathers wrote in the Constitution that every 10 years the population is to be counted.
So why is it important to know the population? Simply put, while every state has two Senators, the Census determines the number of seats each state will have in the House of Representatives, based on a state's population. And the Census can help determine dollar distribution for government programs.
What questions will be asked? The number of people living with you, their ages, races, national origins, genders and their relation to you. You also will be asked whether you own your home or rent it. Don't worry; your information is protected.
By now, you should have received something in the mail about the Census; don't ignore it - by law, you must participate. You can respond online, by mail or by phone. If you haven't responded, the Census Bureau will send someone to your home beginning in May. For more information, visit - Heloise


Dear Heloise: Why are newer cars sold without a spare tire? I find that very dangerous, especially for women who could be stuck alone at night in a remote place! - Karen in Virginia

Karen, yes, many automakers don't include a spare tire. The reason? Auto makers must meet government mandated fuel economy standards. To achieve this, they make changes to decrease the weight of the vehicle, and eliminating the spare tire was just one of several solutions they had to consider. You can purchase a spare tire, along with a jack, at an auto parts store. - Heloise

This is giving me a headache

Dear Heloise: I have a pet peeve when shopping that maybe you can answer. When I'm looking for a specific spice or can of soup, the choices are endless. My eyes go from right to left, top to bottom.

By the time I find what I'm looking for, I've got a headache. Why don't stores alphabetize these items? - Sharon K., Reading, Penn.
Sharon, the premium shelf space at the grocery store (which usually means eye level) is where product manufacturers want their goods, and they pay the retailer to have their products placed there.
If you can see it quickly, you will be more apt to grab it and put it in your basket. Although, your alphabet idea does sound like a good way to organize merchandise! - Heloise

P.S. Have you noticed? Grocery stores place staple items such as bread and milk at the back of the store, which demands that we walk past all the other aisles and shelves of items - more temptation! One solution? Prepare a list and stick to it! - Heloise


Dear Heloise: After cleaning my CPAP ("CPAP" stands for "continuous positive airway pressure." It's a medical device that can help keep your nose and mouth open so you can breathe better when sleeping. - H), there was still slime in the corners of my water reservoir. I put it in the freezer for an hour. Did I kill the germs, or did I waste my time? - Butch, Huntington, Ind.

Butch, unfortunately, no, you didn't kill the germs. But this is a good lesson for everybody. Cleaning and drying the unit is important. The American Sleep Association ( says rinsing the CPAP with plain water is fine, but you must let the equipment dry thoroughly, and the hoses and filters need to be replaced regularly. - Heloise

P.S. The freezer won't kill germs; the most it could do is slow reproduction.


Dear Heloise: I found a wallpaper sample book in a back room. I thought it would make a colorful and fun scrapbook!
I'm having fun cutting and pasting old pictures, fabric swatches, buttons and letters. It's a great memory maker! - Doris in Ohio


Dear Heloise: My kids love spaghetti, but it can be messy to eat, so I cut the spaghetti into small pieces with a pair of kitchen shears before I cook it. No more mess! - Rachel in Florida

(c)2020 by King Features Syndicate Inc.