Getting around – Winter weather and crowds pose challenges when driving, walking, or biking. Slow down when surfaces are wet and slippery or visibility is reduced. The people around you may be in unfamiliar areas or distracted, so expect erratic behavior and be prepared to act quickly to avoid collisions.

Mouse in the house (or lab) – Creatures are stirring at home and work. To avoid unwelcome visits from our miniature wildlife, store food securely in covered containers that are difficult for rodents and insects to get into.

Unidentified Flying Organisms – Viruses and bacteria are looking for warmth and food, and your body looks like a cozy home for them. Avoid exposure by washing hands, wearing a mask in crowded places, and staying home if you don’t feel well. Bacteria are often present in raw foods. Fully cook meats and poultry. Thoroughly wash raw vegetables and fruits. Foods that need refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

Light and warmth – We all crave them around the solstice. If you use decorative lights, check whether they have been approved by a test laboratory such as “UL,” certified for your intended use location (indoor/outdoor), and are in good condition. Avoid daisy-chaining power strips or multiple strings of lights. If the breaker is tripping, don’t just reset it—heed the warning and reduce the load. Keep flames away from flammable materials other than the intended fuel.

Respect heights – Ladders help hang decorations or clean leaves and storm debris from gutters and roofs.  To use a ladder safely, place it on a firm, secure foundation so it does not wobble or slide.  Don’t rush, and be aware of your body position. Keep your belt buckle between the ladder rails, and practice the 3-point rule: maintain at least 2 feet and one hand or two hands and one foot in contact with the ladder.  Read and believe the labels that tell you not to stand on the top rungs.

Practice these tips so you can enjoy a fun and relaxing break with family and friends and return to the Lab looking forward to another exciting year of scientific discoveries!