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January 2016 Checklist

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• Help your community: Monday, January 18, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. Join people of all ages who volunteer at food pantries, hospitals, parks and other sites. Information: NationalService.gov/MLKDay.

• Shrink your paycheck: Contribute as much as you can to retirement plans—and as early in the year as possible. Already retired? The Social Security Administration confirms that there will be no annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2016.

• Mail your packages sooner rather than later: Postal rates for packages increase on Sunday, January 17. Letter and postcard rates stay the same for now—49 cents and 35 cents, respectively.

• Protect against carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning: January has more CO deaths than any other month. Don’t let vehicles idle in an attached garage—even if the garage door is left open. Don’t use gas ovens to provide heat. Install CO detectors on every level of your home. If a detector sounds, go outside immediately. Then call 911.

• Streamline gift returns: Don’t crack seals, remove tags or throw out packaging on presents that you may want to return. Call stores or check online to find out about return policies and deadlines. Unwanted gift cards: Check ratings of popular online exchanges. Most exchange sites will buy, sell or exchange your gift card.

• Don’t get dehydrated: Cold weather decreases the thirst response by up to 40%. Even if you aren’t thirsty, consume healthful options such as clear soup, vegetable soup and water flavored with squeezed/sliced lemons and limes. Surprising: Cold liquids are absorbed more quickly by the body than hot ones.

• Fight hangovers: Before going to bed, drink 16 to 20 ounces of water. Sip water, juice or clear soup the next day. Eat toast, crackers or other bland food. Take aspirin or another ­nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory for headaches, not acetaminophen. Like alcohol, acetaminophen can affect the liver.

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