Following a fire in a U.S. military postal facility in Baghdad, postal officials have a message: Please use common sense when shipping to the Operation Iraqi Freedom theater.

With surface temperatures climbing as high as 140 degrees, officials there want loved ones to be cognizant of everyday items that might not travel well in such extremes.

“It should be common sense,” said Army Lt. Col. Frank Smith, Deputy Commander 3rd Personnel Command, or PERSCOM, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. “Last week it reached 126 degrees here, and that’s what happened to our two pallets at the Baghdad airport.”

Smith and Sgt. Derek Stubbs, an administrative sergeant also with the 3rd PERSCOM, spoke with Stars and Stripes via phone.

What happened was a package that contained common plastic cigarette lighters and batteries ignited, destroying 50 to 75 packages under some netting on the pallets.

Smith acknowledges there’s no regulation against sending flashlight batteries through the mail, but hopes people will understand that GIs have other options.

“Nearly every soldier in Iraq has access to a post exchange, and they have plenty of flashlight batteries.

Aerosol cans are another high-risk item, Stubbs said.

“They’re another thing people should take a second look at,” Smith added. “If people really must ship those, they should put aerosol cans and batteries in a plastic bag, so if they burst they won’t leak all over the other items.”

As does the U.S. Postal Service, the military postal system will do their best to contact the addressees of the burned packages, Smith said.

If the package has a legible name and address, they’ll bag the package, attach a letter outlining what happened and requesting the addressee to contact the sender to file a claim with the originating postal office.

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