DEAR ABBY: The summer travel season has officially begun. The criminals are prepared; are your readers?

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program (2000), the greatest number of burglaries occurs in July and August – and 60 percent of all residential burglaries occur during the daytime. The Home Safety Council recommends simple safeguards that will reduce the chances of being victimized:

(1) Evaluate your home’s security. Do all door and window locks work?

(2) Is outside lighting bright and focused to illuminate potential entry points?

(3) Are hedges and trees trimmed so intruders can’t use them for cover?

(4) Have you removed any extra keys that you’ve hidden outside? (Burglars know all the good hiding places.)

(5) Make your home look “lived in” while you’re away. Buy timers to set lights to come on at different times.

(6) Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway while you’re gone.

(7) Stop newspaper and mail deliveries, or have someone pick them up daily.

(8) Do not invite trouble by changing your answering machine greeting to say you’re out of town on vacation.

(9) Provide a neighbor, relative or close friend with your itinerary and contact information so you can be reached in case of emergency.

Thanks for sharing this information with your readers, Abby. – MERI-K APPY, PRESIDENT, THE HOME SAFETY COUNCIL

Thank you for the timely tips. Readers, for even more safety suggestions, a free checklist can be downloaded at the Home Safety Council’s Web site:

Happy trails to you, fellow travelers!

DEAR ABBY: There has been a new arrival in our family and I have an important question. Is it true that two brown-eyed, dark-haired people cannot be the parents of a blue-eyed, fair-haired child? If so, this is completely contrary to what I was taught in school.

It has always been my understanding that a child carries not only the genes of his or her parents, but also the genes of grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.

Please check with your experts and let me know as soon as possible. This debate has caused a huge rift in our family. – RICHMOND, VA., READER

I hope this short biology lesson will silence the nay-sayers:

In the 19th century, an Austrian monk and botanist named Gregor Mendel discovered the existence of “dominant” and “recessive” genes.

In a nutshell, his research proved that a child can inherit a recessive gene from an ancestor and have eye color, hair color, skin color and other features that are different from both its mother and father. This is called Mendelian law.

You can prove it to your disbelieving relatives by going to the library and checking out some books on Mendel’s law of genetic inheritance and recessive genes. Please don’t wait. They need educating before their ignorance causes the rift to be permanent.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable – and most frequently requested – poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby – Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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