Deadline for package posting nears

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Ho! Ho! Holy Moly, Christmas Day is only 22 days away! Have you mailed all of your Christmas packages and cards yet?

Well, you’re quickly running out of time.

Post office Supervisor Jeff Daniels said the deadline for mailing packages and letters to the soldiers who are serving overseas is almost here.

&uot;Any military mail to Army/Air Force Post Office (APO) or Fleet Post Office (FPO) addresses can be mailed up to Dec. 4,&uot; Daniels said. &uot;If postmarked by tomorrow, it should get there by Christmas Day. The deadline for parcel posts overseas is already past. That deadline was Nov. 13. Parcels to overseas military personnel can be shipped via Priority Mail until Dec. 11.&uot;

Daniels also encouraged post office customers to get their packages and mail for stateside destinations in the mail as quickly as possible this month.

&uot;We are already seeing Christmas cards come through,&uot; he said. &uot;The sooner they get them mailed, the better.&uot;

The supervisor said, traditionally, the post office’s busiest day is Dec. 18.

&uot;That means most people are mailing their items on Dec. 15,&uot; Daniels said. &uot;If you want to make sure your mail gets through, post it before that date.&uot;

Here are some tips from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for holiday mailing:

Always write, type or print addresses neatly, and always use a complete return address.

Make sure you are using the correct ZIP code – don’t guess. ZIP codes are available on the USPS website at www.usps.com. You can also find mailing rates and post office locations there.

Stamps also are available at the website or you can order them by calling (800) STAMP-24. Area grocery stores offer stamps to their customers, too.

A critical factor for most postal customers is how they prepare their packages for mailing.

&uot;With boxes, you have to have everything that has an old address on it marked out with a black marker or removed from the box,&uot; Daniels said. &uot;And the customer has to do it. The postal service used to allow its employees to mark them out, but we can’t anymore. If the customer brings in a box that doesn’t have the old mailing addresses and bar codes blacked out or removed, we can give them a marker to do it, but they will have to step out of line to mark them out, then get back in line to mail it.&uot;

The supervisor also said wrapping packages in brown paper (or any other type) is not a good idea.

&uot;Most of our mail is machine-sorted,&uot; he said. &uot;The paper wrapping is easy to tear, and if it comes off, we lose the mailing address too.&uot;

Daniels pointed out that packages should never have anything protruding from them for the same reason.

&uot;Liquids should be conspicuously labeled on the package,&uot; he said. &uot;Any leakage from a package that is not identified will be pulled from the shipment until the substance can be identified. With security the way it is now, we and the airlines won’t know if it’s a bomb or not, so unmarked packages that leak will go the &uot;slow&uot; way and the package probably won’t make it in time.&uot;

Here are some more package mailing tips from the USPS:

nSelect a strong box to protect contents, leave space for cushioning.

nCushion contents with packing products, such as &uot;bubble wrap,&uot; Styrofoam peanuts, or newspaper.

nOnly have mailing and return addresses on packages, other labels, bar codes or visible addresses could cause an error in shipping.

nEnclose a card in the package, listing contents for the recipient to insure nothing has been stolen.

nRemove batteries from toys. Wrap and ship next to the toy in the package.

nPackages weighing one pound or more have to be taken to the post office to be mailed, or you can use the Click and Ship feature on the USPS website.

Despite the ever-present concern for safety, the post office hasn’t implemented any new security measures or regulations recently that will slow package shipments, the postal employee said.

&uot;We are still under the measures that were implemented about five years ago,&uot; Daniels said. &uot;We still have the same procedures for mailing.&uot;

Another reminder the USPS offers to its customers is about mailing Christmas cards.

&uot;Most of them will go over our one-ounce first class stamp weight limit,&uot; Daniels said. &uot;Customers need to remember to add a $.23 stamp to the card to keep it from being returned.&uot;