Holiday shipping deadlines approaching

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas is less than three weeks away, which means Barry Countians have only a few more weeks to prepare and ship holiday packages through the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Parcel Post Service packages must be postmarked by Thursday, Dec. 15 in order to be delivered before Christmas. First class mail must be postmarked by Tuesday, Dec. 20 and priority mail should be sent by Wednesday, Dec. 21.

USPS reminds senders to double check addresses before sending their holiday packages and Christmas cards. Boxes should also be shaken to ensure items are securely packed.

This year, USPS will deliver over 16 billion cards, letters and packages across the United States and around the world.

Local residents are encouraged to use the following suggestions when shipping holiday packages and cards:

* Cushion items with bubble wrap, newspaper or "foam peanuts," so they do not shift during transit.

* Wrap each item separately when packing more than one item in the same box.

* Remove batteries from electronic devices and wrap separately.

* Mark packages "Fragile" in large print on the outside of the box when shipping materials that might be more likely to break.

* When re-using a box, make sure previous labels and markings are covered before mailing.

* Mark "perishable" on packages that contain food or other items that can spoil.

* Place an extra address label with the delivery and return address inside the package. This ensures the safe return of an item that could not be delivered should the outside label become damaged or fall off.

* Always use tape designed for sealing shipping boxes. Do not use string, cellophane and masking tape to seal packages.

Packages can weigh up to 70 pounds and measure up to 130 inches in combined length and width. Make sure the width is measured around the largest point of the package.

When mailing letters and cards, print complete addresses clearly. Complete addresses include the recipient's name, Post Office Box or street number, street name, suffix, directional, apartment or suite number, city, state and five-digit zip code.

Senders should print the delivery and return addresses on the same side of the envelope or package. Always include a return address.

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