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Dear Readers: Thinking of shooting off FIREWORKS to ring in the new year? Think again. There are different types of fireworks, and all of them can be dangerous. Let's take a look:

• Bottle rockets are designed to fly through the air. But what's the target? If you miss, you could hit somebody's eye, hair or body.

• Roman candles are explosives designed to be hand-held. What could possibly go wrong?

• M-class fireworks (M-80s)? Illegal, and much too powerful.

• Firecrackers are designed to be lit on the ground and explode in sequence. Fire chances are high, especially in the grass.

• Even something as seemingly innocuous as a sparkler, which kids love, can burn at around 2,000 F! Clothes can catch fire; sparklers can get dropped on feet.

Best bet? Leave the colorful fireworks to the professionals. Check out the National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) for more information. — Heloise

P.S. Many breeds of dogs are terrified of firework explosions.

RESOLUTION REVOLUTION?

Dear Readers: Today's SOUND OFF is about making New Year's resolutions:

"Dear Heloise: Why do people make New Year's resolutions? Nearly everyone I know makes them (we all promise to lose weight), but no one keeps them. I was once told to write them down and put them somewhere I could see them every day, so I put them on my large bathroom mirror. I saw my resolutions every day and still did not paint the bathroom, take a class in French or lose 15 pounds. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak." — Gordon T., Scranton, Pa.

Well, readers, do you make resolutions? Do you keep them? Let us know what resolutions you've made or broken. — Heloise

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DID YOU KNOW?

Dear Readers: The corks on lots of Champagne bottles will be popping in the next few days. Do you know what cork is? Cork is a layer of tree bark, most commonly from a variety of oak tree. Cork is lightweight and nonporous.

Liquids and air typically can't get through cork; that's why it's good as a wine bottle stopper. What else is cork used for? The manufacture of shoes, bulletin boards and flooring, among other things. By the way, cork is flame-retardant. — Heloise

A FRESH START

Dear Heloise: As this year draws to a close and a new year is set to begin soon, it's an excellent time to go through dresser drawers and closets to get rid of things we don't use, don't like or are broken or outdated. Recycle what can be used by someone else, but make space in your home and life for new things. — Elizabeth H., Chapel Hill, N.C.

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