Safety tips for mailing holiday packages

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The Post Office provides free Priority Mail boxes and envelopes, and if you bring in the item you want to ship, they will help you choose the correct size. The shipping cost is a flat rate, depending on what size box or envelope you choose. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
by Patricia Muhammad

LANSING, Ill. (November 2017) – During the holiday season, the United States Postal Service processes millions of pieces of mail across the country and around the world. Over the next few weeks, thousands of holiday shoppers will stand in post offices waiting to send packages and parcels near and far. In this season of excitement, people can overlook last-minute details and wind up mailing poorly sealed boxes. These unnoticed, minor details can result in big losses or stolen items.

Beverly Howard, Customer Relations Communications Coordinator for the Central Illinois District Post Office in Bedford Park, offered these safety tips to help people avoid the hassle and heartache of losing items due to improperly sealed packages:

PAID MESSAGE FROM AN ADVERTISING MEMBER —
  1. Free boxes. “We have our priority products service boxes that are free,” said Howard, “and they are sturdy.”
  2. Right-sizing. Howard recommends that customers bring their merchandise to the post office, so they can select the proper size box. A box that is too small won’t have enough room for protective filler; a box that is too large will cost more money to mail.
    PAID MESSAGE FROM AN ADVERTISING MEMBER —
  3. Packing tape. Yolanda Askew, Supervisor for the Lansing Post Office, offered this advice for sealing boxes: “When mailing packages, it is very important that your box is sturdy. Use mailing tape as opposed to Scotch tape.” Masking tape and duct tape are also not recommended because they are not weather-resistant—freezing temperatures can make the adhesive fail, and high temperatures can melt the adhesive and leave a sticky residue.
  4. Labeling. Howard pointed out that when sending fragile items, customers should write “Fragile” on the package to ensure proper handling. Bubble wrap and small styrofoam peanuts can help protect fragile items during transit.
  5. Hazards. Askew warned against mailing hazardous chemicals. She also added that when customers mail liquid items, the items should be well insulated to avoid leaks. “When leaks occur, the post office will inspect the box,” she said.

Tracking options

Late packages can be disappointing or frustrating for customers. Howard said if you are expecting a package and have the tracking information, call customer service at 1-800-275-8777 or visit www.usps.com.

Howard also recommends that customers use Informed Delivery Service, which is a tracking system that monitors the delivery of mail. “With proper labeling on the packaging, customers are now able to use their smartphones to check to see when to expect the arrival of their package, and they can determine the delivery of the package.”

Customers can also ask their local post office to redeliver an item when someone is going to be home, or they can come to the post office to receive their package.

Millions of packages

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The Lansing, Illinois, Post Office on Roy Street is part of the Central Illinois District territory and is a good resource during the holiday season. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Howard commented on the volume of mail that will pass through the Central District Post Office over the holidays: “We’re anticipating more than 15 billion pieces of mail that will go forth during the holiday season. At least 850 million packages will cross through our processing territory.”

The Central Illinois District Post Office handles zip codes for the south suburbs, including Lansing, as well as the western suburbs, Rockford, and Peoria.

The Lansing Post Office is located at 18125 Roy Street in Lansing.

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