Black Friday can be a chaotic whirlwind of activity, and many people do a large part of their holiday shopping on this day. If you’re one of the many Black Friday shoppers who will head out this year looking for late night or early morning steals and deals, keep in mind these important safety tips.

•· Before you start out on your Black Friday shopping expedition, make a plan. Decide which items are top priority and know where in the store they are. Ensure that the plan includes what to do and where to meet up if you become separated from your shopping companions, especially if they are children. Use the buddy system if your party is splitting up, and try to be sure that each group has a cell phone.

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•· Be extra vigilant when loading your purchases in and out of the car. Cover up any items so that they aren’t visible in the car windows, or store them in the trunk if possible. Likewise, be sure to lock your car every time you leave it and park under a streetlight if possible, especially if you will be out in the wee hours of the morning. Have your keys out before you walk to your car and check the back seat before getting in. If you feel unsafe walking to your car, ask a member of the store’s security to escort you.

•· Be kind and courteous to others and follow the directions of store employees and security personnel, as well as any posted signs. Do your best not to engage if someone is combative or aggressive. That won’t end well for anyone involved. After all, Black Friday is about buying things. And no thing is more important than your overall safety and wellbeing.

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•· Wear well fitting, closed-toe shoes and clothing that you can move easily around in. It’s likely that you will end up standing in lines for long periods of time, and you want to be as comfortable as possible. Because it is likely to be warm inside but quite cold outside, dress in layers to avoid overheating or risking hypothermia, depending on where you are at the moment.

•· Keep your wallet or purse close to you at all times, and don’t brandish any money or credit cards while paying for your purchases. Make sure that you are not presenting an easy target for a pickpocket, and never ever leave your purse or bag unattended in a cart.

•· Only pick up as much as you can safely carry, or fit in your cart. Trying to pick up something that is too heavy, or trying to carry too many things at once can lead to an accident in which you may injure yourself and others.

•· If you notice a package or a bag left unattended, or any sort of suspicious behavior, be sure to alert a security guard right away.

Keeping these simple safety practices in mind while you’re navigating parking lots, searching through crowded stores, waiting in lines, and making your purchases will go a long way towards keeping you and your family safe on Black Friday.

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