Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

Last updated on September 13th, 2015 at 12:09 am

Black Friday has come and gone this year but it is only the beginning of the busiest shopping season of the year. Everywhere you go, stores are packed, parking lots are full, and people are scurrying about trying to get the very best deals on all the latest, hottest gift items. If you are an avid shopper, this might be your favorite time to shop and score big bargains on the items on your gift list, but this time of year can also put shoppers at risk for theft, accidents, and other safety threats.

Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind while you are out doing your holiday shopping this year:

Shop with a friend

There is safety in numbers and not only will it make you less of a target, you’ll probably have more fun than shopping alone.

Take only the bare necessities

Before you head out to the mall or stores, clean out your purse or wallet and take only what you really must have. If possible, skip the purse and carry a small wallet in your front pocket. If you must carry a purse, carry it over your shoulder, across your body, or carry a wristlet purse. These make it harder for a purse-snatcher to access your purse. Plus, if you do have your purse or wallet stolen or if you lose it, you will not have to replace as many cards and can quickly report the ones that were stolen/lost.

Shop during the daylight hours

If possible, shop during the daytime. Once it gets dark, thieves have an advantage of being able to hide in the dark and then attack unsuspecting shoppers when they are walking back to their vehicles with their purchases. If you must shop after sundown, park as close to the store as you can and in a well-lit area. If you feel uncomfortable walking to your car, ask if there is a security guard who can escort you through the parking lot. Have your key out and check around your vehicle before getting in it. Once you are inside, lock your doors and don’t delay in leaving.

If you are approached by anyone in the parking lot or if someone’s behavior seems suspicious, return to the store instead of trying to get to your car. Your car cannot protect you as well as being in the store with other people can. Alert store security or a manager if there is any suspicious activity or if someone did approach you and seemed to be a threat.

Protect your purchases

Thieves know that holiday shopping time is prime time to find lots to steal in the parking lots of malls and other shopping centers. If you have to leave any purchases in your car, be sure to hide or cover them well. Lock them in the trunk of a car or if you are driving an SUV or minivan, cover them with a blanket. Don’t leave anything visible. If you plan to drop off purchases and then go back into the same mall/shopping center, get in your car and drive to another part of the parking lot to re-park. Or take a break, leave the area to get lunch or a snack and come back later. Thieves may be lurking in the parking lot and if one sees you put packages in your car and go back into the mall, your vehicle will be a prime target.

Don’t overload yourself

Leaving a store with arms full of several bags, boxes, and other goodies may look fun and exciting in commercials, but in real life it makes you a target for attackers. An attacker knows it will be harder for you to fight with your arms full and it will be easier to catch you off-guard because you’ll be distracted by trying to carry and balance all your purchases. And remember, thieves often work in pairs. If someone approaches you, be wary of not only them, but anyone else who might be around because they may be planning to pick-pocket or snatch your bags or purse while you are distracted by the one who approached you.

Be alert at all times

Be aware of your surroundings when out in public, not only for possible thieves or attackers, but for potential safety hazards as well. If you are walking through a parking lot, watch out for cars, as crowded and busy parking lots may make it hard for drivers to see you, especially if they are backing out of a parking space. If you are driving, watch closely for pedestrians, especially those who might be paying attention or may be overloaded with packages and bags. Look carefully behind you before backing out of a parking space.

If the weather is rainy, snowy or icy, be extra cautious walking in the parking lot and even when you step into the store, as slick floors may cause falls.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and stay safe!

About the Author

Tamara Walker, R.N., aka “MomRN”, is the mom of two teenagers, a registered nurse, a child safety expert and instructor, and host of the “Ask MomRN Show”. Her passions are to help parents as they navigate the journey through parenthood and to protect children of all ages. Her websites are http://www.MomRN.com and http://www.blogtalkradio.com/FlyLady.MomRN has been a member of the PedSafe Expert team

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