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Do-It-Yourself Movers Guide

How do you pack those items that are hard to wrap or items of value? Here are some simple packing tips:

How to Pack Furniture:

  • Disassemble furniture if possible and coverWrap table legs separatelyLay down padding between your furniture and the floor of the truckPlace tables with legs assembled top down on floor with legs up
  • Stack chairs seat to seat

Packing China:

  • Use special "dishpak" boxesWrap plates, saucers, and bowls individually using several sheets of paper each Start from the corner, wrapping diagonally, continuously tucking in edgesAfter wrapping individually, wrap 4-6 pieces in a bundle with a double layer of newspaperPlace cushioning material in bottom of cartonPlace flat, heavier pieces like platters, plates on bottomPlace bundled items in a carton in a row on edge.Surround each bundle with crushed paper, being careful to leave no unfilled spaces.
  • Cups and glassware should be wrapped in a double layer of paper and placed upside down on rims in a row on an upper layer within the box with all the handles facing the same direction.

Packing Clothing:

  • Shoes may be left in shoe boxes and placed into large cartons.Or, wrap each shoe individually, then in pairs. Shoes should be cushioned to avoid damage occurring to high heals or ornaments. Do not pack heavy items on shoes.Clothing may be left on hangers and transported in wardrobe cartons.
  • Lightweight clothing such as hose, lingerie and sweaters may be left in dresser drawers.


  • Remove the light bulbWrap the base, harp and bulb separately, in newsprint, and place together in a carton, filling spaces with crushed paperNever wrap the lamp shade in newspaper.
  • Carefully wrap each shade in 3-4 sheets of fresh tissue paper, a pillow case or large lightweight towel

Pictures and Glass:

  • Use a standard picture box or cover both sides of the picture with cardboardPlace packing paper along the sides and edges of the picture to prevent it from moving inside the boxPlace no more than 3 or 4 pictures in one box
  • Keep the box right side up at all times

What NOT to Pack:Heat from the sun can raise temperatures inside a closed moving van and trucks to more than 150 degrees. Even in the middle of winter, heat builds up inside. Many common items, including aerosol hair spray or cleaning products, can trigger an explosion or fire that could destroy your possessions when packed inside a van. For your own safety, make sure that no member of your family packs these items in a container to be moved. Replacing a can of hair spray is much easier than replacing all of your belongings.

We want you to have a satisfying move. For the safety of your belongings, review the list below and eliminate all dangerous items before packing:

Hair spray
Cleaning products
Shaving cream
Spray starch
Spray paint
Oil-based paints
Muriatic acid
Auto batteries
Propane in tanks*
Tar remover
Oxygen in tanks
Paint thinners
Lighter fluid
Lacquer remover
Mineral spirits
Chlorine granules or powder
Any other type of combustible

Moving your Plants:

How to Make Sure Your Plants Survive the Move
By Kate Kemp

If you have house plants, and you're moving to a new location, you have three options: donate 'em, dump 'em, or dare to take 'em with you. So, you may not care for your plants like a "Professional," but Charlie Nardozzi, senior horticulturist for The National Gardening Association, provides some great advice for those who can't bear to leave their precious plants behind:

If you're flying to the new location: "I believe your first step should be to contact the airline you are travelling with. They most likely have very specific guidelines (and I bet regulations) on transporting plant life. Also contact the Department of Agriculture in the state you are moving to; they may also have regulations to prevent the importation of pests."

If you're travelling by vehicle: "For the plants that are going in the truck, you should insure that your plants are in containers that will not break. If they are in terra cotta pots, transfer them to plastic. Perhaps it would be a good idea to go to your local nursery or garden center and ask about those black plastic nursery pots. Around here you can get used ones for a nickel a piece! Be sure to sterilize them however

"Other tips: "Your plants will need to be kept moist during their journey. Give them a good watering and then wrap the soil tops with sphagnum moss you have soaked overnight. I would then wrap the whole pot in newspaper, and then in burlap. It probably would not be out of order to loosely wrap the foliage in burlap also to avoid breakage of leaves and stems."  "For cuttings, I would wrap them in the wet moss as well and wrap in newspaper. Then place the wrapped cuttings in an UNSEALED ziploc bag. Place the bags in a cardboard box with some sort of light packing material. I mail cuttings and small plants quite often and this works well, even when mailing across the country. I would definitely put these on the don't want any unusual plants in baggies that are boxed up going through the inspection process without you there to explain...have you ever seen Midnight Express? Wouldn't want all that trouble over a dieffenbachia now, would we?"

If you're moving from a large space into a small one, and don't have room for your plants, consider donating them to local nursing homes and then you might want to contact The American Community Gardening Association, 100 North 20th St., Philadelphia, PA 19103; ph# 215-988-8785 to find the closest community garden. Otherwise, follow Charlie's advice, and both you and your plants will continue to grow and flourish in your new environment!

Moving Your Pet: It's a Jungle Out There
By Courtney Ronan
Realty Times Columnist

Last week, Real Times passed along valuable tips for making the moving experience less stressful for your pets. In addition to the empty boxes, unfamiliar faces and strange noises confronting pets, they're often traumatized by the more jarring experiences of a plane ride, a lengthy car trip and completely new surroundings with which to become acquainted -- not to mention a new water source to which their stomachs must become accustomed.

But different species of pets respond to the moving experience in different ways. Depending on whether your faithful companion is a dog, cat, hamster, bird or something else, you'll need to take special precautions to ensure their comfort. Take cats, for example. Veterinarians warn that they're particularly vulnerable to stress.Cats crave routine in their lives. The moving experience removes all sameness: your cat's favorite spot by the window, the taste of the water in his food dish, that place by the door where his litter box is located.

Cats are also control freaks. (If you doubt this theory, try switching your cat's favorite kitty litter or nightly treats, and see how he lets you know that he doesn't support your decision.) When that sense of control over their surroundings is removed, cats often respond by withdrawing, exhibiting a variety of uncharacteristic personality changes, or becoming sick. In extreme cases, your cat's immune system may become so suppressed that his health is seriously affected.

The solution: Maintain your cat's normal routine as much as possible. During all of the pre-move commotion, confine him to one room with his favorite toys, litter box, food and water. Make sure you warn your movers that your cat's "room" is not to be disturbed during the moving process. You may even consider placing a sign on the door to prevent someone from opening the door, and your cat from escaping.

When it comes time to hit the road, place your cat in a roomy carrier that enables him to stretch and have his food, water and a small litter pan with him. Once you arrive at your new residence, do the same thing you did before -- place your cat in a room with his familiar belongings, and shut the door to tune out the noise. Don't force your cat out of his carrier; let him come out when he feels comfortable. The same goes for his acclimation process to your new home. Slowly open the door to his room, and let him come out and explore when he's ready. If he doesn't make a move to leave the room, simply shut the door, and try again tomorrow. When he meets you at the door and sticks his head out for a peek, he's warming up to the idea of becoming familiar with his new surroundings.

If your cat has been allowed outdoors in the past, don't let him outside until you've been at your new residence for several days. When you're ready, place him on a leash for your first introductory outings. Do this for the first three or four trips outdoors, and then, if he seems comfortable, remove the leash and let him explore the outdoors on his own.

Dogs tend to adapt to moving more easily than cats. If you transport your dog by car, be prepared to make frequent "rest stops" with him -- and clean up after him (so have the necessary materials to do so).

If you travel by plane, a small dog may be able to fit under your seat in his pet carrier. If your dog is larger in size, he's going to have to travel in the cargo section (the belly) of the plane. Consult with your vet before the move in order to take the necessary measures to reduce stress. And make sure your flight is a direct one so that your dog's carrier won't be exposed to the elements while he waits for a plane transfer

And while it sounds obvious, many pet owners forget: If it's warm outside, don't leave your pet inside the car. Call ahead to find a hotel that accepts pets so as to avoid leaving your pet in the car overnight. Birds present a unique scenario for any mover. Most states require a health certificate for birds, and some states require that birds have a series of health tests performed prior to entry in their new home states. Again, check with your vet long before your move takes place, and have him or her perform all necessary tests and sign all paperwork ahead of time. Doing your homework will avoid the possibility of any snags upon your arrival at your destination.

If you plan to transport your bird by car, remember that birds don't respond well to temperature changes. Maintain a comfortable temperature in your car at all times. Place a cover over your bird's cage to help him feel secure and to avoid any cold drafts from opening windows or doors. And make sure you've stocked his water and snack supply. Like cats, birds thrive when their routines are held constant.

If you have just a few fish, and your move is relatively short, place them in plastic bags filled halfway with water, and place the bags in an ice chest or other Styrofoam container to help maintain the temperature of the water. If you own several fish, or if you're traveling a longer distance, use plastic containers instead; around 10 gallons should be sufficient. Fill them halfway with water, and change it often to keep your pets' surroundings clean. Place one or two fish in each container. Overcrowding your fish, of course, will "stress" them even more. Don't subject your fish to variances in temperature by leaving containers in the car for lengthy periods. If your journey is particularly long, lasting more than two or three days, you're going to need an oxygenator for your fish. Your best bet is to head to your local pet store for a portable aerator.

If you've got a small rodent, such as a gerbil, guinea pig, hamster or mouse, the easiest solution is to transport them in their "homes" -- their cages. Remove the water bottle; the jostling of your car will cause it to leak on your pet's bedding. Make occasional stops, during which you may insert the water bottle into the cage to allow your pet to rehydrate. Maintain a cool, comfortable temperature in your car. Never leave the cage in a warm car. And if the temperature is cold outside, you may want to consider placing a cover over a wire cage to insulate your faithful friend.

Regardless of the species of pet you own, when in doubt, ask your vet. And consider that whatever stress you're feeling is multiplied exponentially for your pet, who has no clue what the commotion is all about and why his surroundings are suddenly unfamiliar. The sound of your voice and the maintenance of some degree of familiarity can do much to alleviate the anxiety your pets feel during the moving experience.

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