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Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Unfortunately, we’ve all seen viral videos of Black Friday shopping nightmares. Such incidents are just one example of the heightened risks that threaten to spoil this joyous time of year.

Here are some tips to keep you safe from some of those dangers this holiday season.

Premises Liability

With throngs of shoppers flocking to stores looking for deep discounts, the risk for slips, trips and falls increases substantially. In bad weather, floors can get slippery for rain, snow, ice and mud tracked in by shoppers. In addition, shoppers may drop items or knock them from shelves.

  • Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes with non-slippery soles.
  • Avoid rushing and stay alert.
  • Always watch where you are going and look out for debris.
  • Report any issues you find to a manager.

Driving

With more shoppers comes more drivers. To compound matters, the weather has turned colder, and the days are shorter. Stores may be open in the wee hours of the morning or later at night. Thus, driving conditions may be less than ideal.

  • Get adequate rest before hitting the road.
  • Beware of heavy and congested traffic. Be prepared for slower traffic with frequent stops.
  • Avoid distracted driving. Have other passengers handle GPS, mobile phones and other electronic devices.
  • Stay calm. Road rage and aggressive driving can lead to disaster.
  • Avoid impaired driving. If you had a couple of drinks at a holiday party, it may be best to take public transportation or use a ride-hailing service.

Personal Safety

In addition to shoppers, Black Friday draws thieves and other criminals. Here are some precautions you can take to ensure you are not a victim:

  • Know your surroundings.
  • Be particularly cautious going to and from your vehicle, especially at night.
  • Park in well-lit areas and keep your car keys in hand when walking back to your vehicle.
  • There’s safety in numbers. When it’s possible, shop with friends or family, especially if you are with your children.
  • Place purchases in the trunk, out of plain view.
  • Keep an eye on your money – both cash and credit.
  • Only carry the cash and credit cards you need. Don’t flash cash or credit cards for others to see. If your cards are lost or stolen, report it immediately to your card issuers.
  • Pack light; keep tight. If you must carry a bag, make it a small one and keep it close to your body to avoid getting it caught on racks, shelves, people, etc. Keep your money and ID in a zippered pocket.
  • Never fight or argue over an item. It’s not worth it. If someone shoves you or reaches for the same item, let it go. Ask an employee if there are more or if it is available online.

Cyber Security and Identity Theft

Criminal opportunists are a threat online, too. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are “Christmas Morning for hackers and cybercriminals,” Steve Durbin, managing director of the Information Security Forum told investor news outlet The Street. Take the following steps to protect yourself:

  • Know the seller and research the website.
  • Shop at websites you trust. Make sure the seller is reputable by checking feedback.
  • Keep an eye out for grammatical mistakes, misspellings and broken links, all of which are signs the website may be less than trustworthy.
  • Monitor your credit card transactions.
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi.
  • Save your receipts for returns and exchanges.
  • Check credit and debit card sales and return receipts against your monthly bills and statements.
  • Report any problems to the credit card issuer promptly.

Products Liability

With so much shopping, it’s possible a product you purchased could have a dangerous defect that puts you or your loved ones at risk. The product could have a faulty design, a production flaw or provide ambiguous or confusing instructions for use.

While governmental agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission do provide some regulation to help keep your family secure, they have proven to be insufficient. Many products that hit the market can still harm you and your loved ones.

To ensure you don’t unwittingly purchase a defective product, here are some tips:

  • Do your research.
  • Know the ingredients in the products you purchase.
  • Review the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s list of recalled products.
  • Remember that not all defective products have been recalled, so use online product reviews to identify potential hazards.
  • The watchdog group World Against Toys Causing Harm Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.) publishes a list of the most dangerous toys annually.

Pond Lehocky wishes you a joyous, safe and hassle-free holiday season. Hopefully, these tips will keep you and your loved ones out of harm’s way so you can fully enjoy the holidays.

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