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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Disinfect public washing machine before loading

Kathy Mitchell Marcy Sugar Creators Syndicate

Dear Annie: I have a weird question for you. My husband is graduating in May but is going back to graduate school to get his master’s degree. We will be living on campus, and I’m worried about the community laundry situation.

My mom says you can catch sexually transmitted diseases from washing your clothes in the same unit as someone who is infected. My sister suggested that I add bleach to the water. Will that help? I wouldn’t care if it were just my husband and me, but we have a 2-year-old and one on the way. Thanks for the advice. – Paranoid in Vermont

Dear Paranoid: There’s no evidence that you can contract a sexually transmitted disease through the washer, but if someone has had the flu or a cold, there is a slight possibility that germs can be transferred through insufficiently disinfected clothing. So, either run a half-cup of bleach through an empty machine before using it, or wash your clothes in hot water and add bleach, ammonia or a pine-oil disinfectant. That ought to take care of just about anything.

Dear Annie: Now that temperatures are heating up and children are out of school, spinal cord injuries will be on the rise. Teens and people in their 20s are especially at risk. A spinal cord injury is a permanent, life-changing event. More than 250,000 people in America already have a spinal cord injury. Every 49 minutes, a person in the United States is paralyzed from one.

Spinal cord injuries increase in the summer. More drivers will be on the road. More people will be outdoors skating, diving and biking. Children will be flocking to playgrounds or playing their favorite sports. All of these activities have the potential for spinal cord injury.

To help prevent the estimated 11,000 new spinal cord injuries that will occur in America this year, Loyola University Health System, Maywood, Ill., is launching a public service campaign, “B 4 U …,” which calls attention to the problem and offers guidelines on reducing injury risk.

Please encourage your readers to think ahead before they dive, bike, drive, skate or play. The wrong decision made in a split second can produce devastating, permanent results.

For tips on how to reduce injury risk, visit Summer should be a wonderful, fun time of year. Sincerely, – Thomas C. Origitano, M.D., Chair, Department of Neurological Surgery, Loyola University Health System; and Professor of Neurological Surgery, Loyola University, Chicago Stritch School of Medicine

Dear Dr. Origitano: Thank you for the timely reminder. We hope all our readers will check your Web site for information on how to avoid spinal injury.

Dear Annie: I am trying to figure out if I have lost my mind and need to retire, but I really can’t afford to quit.

I work in an office with 22 other people, and they pop their gum and stir their coffee (by beating the cup with a spoon) until I think I will go insane. Also, there are 22 cell phones playing all kinds of rings, going off all day long. Is it too much to ask for some etiquette in the office? Where has the respect for the other person gone?

I would appreciate any help you can give me. – T.Y.

Dear T.Y.: This isn’t a simple etiquette problem. It has to do with proper office behavior. Using personal cell phones during business hours, popping gum or banging spoons is simply unprofessional. Talk to your supervisor about the gum and the office policy on cell phones (which should be set on vibrate or silent, at the very least), and either you or the boss can ask the spoon-bangers to go easy on the china.

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