Control closet chaos before cold comes

Even though we've had a nice, warm September, winter-wooly weather is just around the corner. Now's a good time to clean out closets and get them organized for the coming season. Some general principles of storage, suggested by the Utah State University Extension Service, can help:- Store items near point of first use and at convenient heights.

- Store items used together in the same place.

- Store items where they are easy to see and reach.

- Build storage to fit items.

- Keep storage flexible.

- Discard seldom or never used items.

- Use space fully and efficiently.

- Plan for the individual using the storage.

Here are some additional tips for making the most of your closet space:

- Plan rod space for different types of clothes. The average rod space needed per garment is 2 inches for women's clothing, 21/4 inches for men's clothing and 4 inches for heavy coats. Also take into account lengths of clothes. Street dresses and coats need 63 inches; trousers, suits, blouses and skirts need 39-45 inches; clothes for 3- to 5-year-olds need 30 inches; and clothes for 5- to 12-year-olds need 45 inches.

- Install plywood shelves on the side walls of your closet for shoes and accessories. For each shelf, nail a wooden strip to the side walls of the closet and nail a plywood shelf to this strip.

- Buy a shoe bag or make your own all-purpose bag by sewing pockets on a heavy piece of canvas or heavy fabric. Pockets can be used to store all sorts of things like yarn, pantyhose, sports socks, shoes, hair brushes, beauty supplies or tennis balls. Attach to closet wall or door with nails or tacks.

- Check retail stores for closet storage items. Many special gadgets can be purchased inexpensively to help solve individual problems. For example, baskets can make more room in your existing closet space. They slide in and out easily for accessibility. Plastic or ceramic hooks can be used to hang a number of necessities - from ties to bathrobes, from jewelry to umbrellas.

- If closets are shared, be sure to divide space equally to avoid quarrels.

- Sort useless articles out and give them away or make them usable. Ask yourself: "Have I worn or used this item in the last year?" If the answer is no, chances are you will not use it in the next year.

- Do not throw sports gear into the closet. Even those odd shapes can be organized. Tennis rackets or fishing poles can be hung from hooks or nails. To hold a basketball or football, make a bag to fit over the ball and hang the bag from a hook.

Winterize your car

Americans like to drive. In this country more than 170 million cars, trucks and buses log approximately 1.7 trillion miles annually. But traveling even one mile can be treacherous and costly for motorists who neglect proper upkeep of their cars - particularly during the cold and wet winter months.

Don't wait until winter arrives. Rain, sleet, snow, sub-freezing weather all wage war on cars. Now, while fall still lingers, is the time to prepare your car for battle. Have a professional technician or mechanic check for sign of wear in these areas, in particular:

BRAKES: Icy roads make properly functioning brakes essential for safe winter driving. Extreme cold and more frequent braking puts additional wear on the brakes. Check brake pads and shoes for wear.

EXHAUST SYSTEM: Severe weather can damage the exhaust system of any car. A hole in the muffler, exhaust or tailpipe can let engine fumes, such as carbon monoxide, seep into the car - which can be dangerous when driving with the windows closed.

OIL AND LUBE: Cold weather thickens lubricating oils, making it harder to start a cold engine. Use the proper winter weight motor oil, and give your car a lube job to help protect suspension and steering parts from the winter elements.

SHOCKS: A good bump from a winter pothole can send your car swerving, if the shocks are not able to adequately control the impact. Beside giving you a bouncy ride, worn-out shock absorbers can hinder braking, particularly during sudden stops, and permit excessive body rolls on curves. If either of these conditions exist, have your shock absorbers checked.

HEATER/DEFROSTER: Foggy windows can be a driving hazard. Be sure your defroster and heater are in good working order. And while you're at it, have the antifreeze checked.

SURVIVAL KIT: Assemble a winter survival kit in your trunk in case of emergency. Include booster cables, shovel, tow chains, rock salt or kitty litter, extra clothing, emergency flares, flashlight, first-aid kit and non-perishable foods.

Chop wood with care

Wood chopping, a task that has come into vogue again with the increase in wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, is a chore that has remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of years. It still requires felling a tree and cutting the wood into fireplace or stove size.

Chain saws save much time and physical energy but have their limitations. It is still necessary to use an ax or wood chopper's maul and splitting wedges in many instances to complete the job.

The Hand Tools Institute recommends the following when chopping and splitting wood:

- As with any job involving hand tools, particularly striking and struck tools, wear safety goggles to protect the eyes against flying chips and metal fragments. It is also advisable to wear heavy clothing to protect the body.

- Select the proper tool and be certain the work area provides plenty of swinging room, free of bystanders. Each tool is designed for a specific purpose and misuse of any tool can be very risky, possibly resulting in serious personal injury.

- A double bit ax is used to fell or trim trees and to split wood. The single bit ax is used for the same purposes but can also be used to drive wooden stakes with the striking face. Never use an ax as a wedge or to strike a steel wood-splitting wedge, steel post or other metal object. The head is likely to crack and separate from the handle.

- Splitting wedges in sizes ranging from three pounds to eight pounds are used in pairs to divide short lengths or large diameter tree trunks or branches into suitable size. Begin by making a starting slit with the cutting edge of a wood chopper's maul or an ax, then place the wedge in the slit and strike it with the face

of the maul or a sledge having a head weight of at least six pounds. Using a lighter hammer is both hazardous and inefficient.

- If the wood does not split completely when the first wedge is driven in, drive a second wedge in the crack some distance from the first. This will release

the first wedge to be driven again if necessary.

- All striking and struck tools should be examined frequently for damage that may render them hazardous. Discard any ax, hatchet, maul or sledge that is cracked, chipped or mushroomed. Handles, of course, should be replaced when cracked or otherwise weakened by damage. The struck face of a splitting wedge when mushroomed should be reground to its original shape with a generous bevel. A cracked or chipped wedge should be discarded.

- If you are not certain as to the type or size of tools for your intended use, ask your local hardware dealer. He can guide you in selecting the proper tools to do the job efficiently and safely.

Power blowers require caution

Power blowers are becoming increasingly popular for fall and winter cleanup. These portable, lightweight machines are hand-held or strapped on the back like a knapsack. They generate a high-velocity airflow, many at more than 100 miles per hour, that's directed through a long nozzle. They work as a substitute for rakes and brooms and can blow everything from light snow off the family car to leaves and debris out of gutters and eaves.

But despite their seemingly harmless appearance and function, power blowers can cause injuries and they can be mishandled.

Power blowers are relatively simple tools. But as with any power product, the operator should exercise caution and good judgment in questionable situations.

The folks at John Deere, one manufacturer of power blowers, suggest these additional safety tips:

- Always read the operator's manual before starting the machine for the first time.

- Wear protective equipment: safety glasses or goggles, non-slip shoes, ear protectors when operating a blower for a long time, respirator or face mask to avoid breathing dust.

- Run the power blower outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide.

- Don't touch the cylinder fins or muffler during operation. Even though they are covered, they get hot.

- Turn the engine off when refueling or making adjustments.

- Don't wear loose clothing or scarves.

- Never start the engine while the blower is strapped to the operator.

- Do not block the fan or blower air pipe.

- Don't point the blower air pipe in the direction of people or pets. A tool is never a toy. A silly game could seriously injure someone by propelling an object into an eye or another part of the body.

- Store the power blower properly in a high, dry, locked-up place, under a roof and out of reach of children. Drain the fuel tank when storing for a long time; don't store the blower anywhere fuel fumes might accumulate or reach an open flame or spark.

- Handle fuel safely. Use a marked and approved safety container for mixing and storing fuel; mix fuel and refuel the engine outside. Shut off the engine and allow it to cool before refueling. Don't smoke during operation or refueling. Don't fill the tank more than three-quarters full. Don't fill the tank while it is strapped to the operator. Never mix fuel directly in the fuel tank.