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MAKE THE FINDING EASIER

At some point, we've all lost something we're certain we can't live without, be it car keys, a wedding ring or a four-legged friend. Our reaction is panic, followed by a frenzied search often resulting in brain-hurting frustration. Look through any classified ad section or lost-and-found Web site and you feel the desperation. While losing stuff is inevitable, here are a few ways to recover missing items and tips for avoiding a loss in the first place.

Post your lost item and scan for found items on Web sites such as thefoundbin.com and Craigslist, which offer free listings.

Consult your local newspaper, which runs lost-and-found notices in the classified ads. Many papers, including the St. Petersburg Times, offer free ads for finders. Lost ads cost by the line and can include photos.

Follow a routine so if you lose something, you'll be able retrace your steps.

Microchip your pet so if someone does find it and take it to a shelter, it can be scanned for identification. The Humane Society of Tampa Bay offers microchip clinics the second Thursday of the month from 5 to 7 p.m. at 3607 N Armenia Ave. in Tampa, with the next one being Nov. 13. The cost is $15. No reservations required.

Scan an area for items before you leave, whether you're ata hotel or restaurant. If your purse turns up missing at a public place, check the restroom. Thieves sometimes take cash and ditch the rest.

Attach ID tags to your belongings. Tracer Tags sells tags for everything from cell phones to golf clubs. Anyone who finds a tagged item can contact the number or Web site on the tag, and the company will locate the owner. ($10-$39 at tracertags.com).

Designate a special spot for items you're most likely to lose.Set aside a bowl or plate for your keys, wallet and other essential items and be consistent about putting them there. Keep your cell phone by its charger and use the vibrate and silence modes sparingly. That way, if you do lose your phone, you'll be able to call it to find it.

Calm down. Don't search blindly. Think logically. There's no way your contact lenses are in the sugar bowl. Look in the most obvious places first. If nothing works, stop looking and give your brain a rest. Sometimes that can lead to instant recall.

Sources: WikiHow, moneyning.com, askmen.com, Hillsborough County Animal Services, Tracer Tags, Craigslist

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