AAA: Top 10 safety tips for Black Friday shopping
While many are making plans to join more than 164 million consumers planning to shop over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday period this year, AAA is sending important safety reminders for a safe and enjoyable shopping experience.
“Whether it’s the thrill of the hustle and bustle or the search for the perfect gift, holiday shopping should not come at the expense of safety,” said Tammy Arnette, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA. “AAA advises shoppers to be aware of their surroundings, pack their patience while searching for a parking space, and avoid distractions while out and about.”
With the start of the holiday shopping season, the auto club offers the following advice for navigating parking lots and protecting vehicles, drivers, and pedestrians as they seek those special gifts and door busters:
AAA’s “Top 10” Safety Tips for Holiday Shopping
1) Stay on guard in parking lots. Be aware of your surroundings and park in well-lit areas when shopping during early morning hours and at night. When returning to your vehicle, have keys ready in hand, check under your car and in the back seat before getting in, and lock your doors as soon as you get in.
2) See and be seen. Use your headlights when scouring parking garages for spaces, even in the daytime. Avoid parking between a pair of tall SUVs or minivans where it might be hard for you to back out of the space. If you can’t see well enough to back out safely, get help from one of your passengers.
3) Slow down, buckle up and obey the laws. Drive the speed limit, stop at stop signs, don’t park in handicapped spaces, and don’t text and/or talk on the phone. Ensure all passengers are buckled up even if it is a short trip to another part of the parking lot as even a low-speed collision can result in injuries.
4) Head for the side door. Many shoppers prefer to park near their favorite stores or near the mall entrance. Most malls have secondary entrances on the sides and those entrances usually have less traffic and additional convenient spaces.
5) Play the outfield. Outlying areas normally have more open spaces, lighter traffic and a lower risk of collision. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to walk off the holiday treats. In some cases, however, those spaces may not be as secure so be aware of the risks.
6) Refrain from reverse. If possible, avoid backing out of a space by either backing into it or pulling through two spaces that are open nose-to-nose.
7) Look out for children and distracted pedestrians. It can be difficult to see small children in busy parking lots. Children may make quick, unpredictable movements. Hold the hands of your children to keep them safe from traffic. Also, watch out for those not watching out for themselves because they are focused on their smart phones.
8) Stay on track and alert while walking. Pedestrians should use walkways and crosswalks, if available. If walking in the traffic lanes is unavoidable, be alert for subtle cues – including exhaust or reverse lights – that signal a vehicle is about to pull out. Avoid distractions and put down your smartphone and do not wear headphones in both ears.
9) Hide your purchases. Keep everything you buy in the trunk of your car, if possible. That way, potential thieves won’t be tempted to break into your vehicle. Don’t forget to lock your car.
10) Remember where you parked. This is especially important if you are shopping at a major outlet, retail center or mall with extensive parking lots. Your afternoon is sure to take a turn for the worse if you forget where you left your car, resulting in you having to lug around shopping bags while you search for it. Tip: Take a picture of where you parked with your phone and text any landmarks or row numbers to avoid headaches.
Can’t deal with the crowds at the malls? Wait until Cyber Monday when many retailers will have special online promotions on the Monday after Thanksgiving.
“Shopping online allows people to avoid the crowds and shop at their convenience, but there is a dark side to Cyber Monday, as there is with Black Friday,” said Brooks Eure, a manager with AAA Insurance.
To protect your financial information while shopping online on Cyber Monday, AAA Insurance offers the following tips:
- If you’re purchasing items on Cyber Monday, beware of bargains from companies with which you are not familiar. “If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is,” the maxim goes.
- Use only secure checkouts on retailers’ websites. Look for the locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address to ensure that you’re shopping with secure websites.
- Don’t respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information, as legitimate businesses will not ask you to do so.
- Print your order. This way you can determine if you have been correctly charged for everything you purchased and have a record of the transaction.