Stay safe on Black Fri­day

News-Herald (Perkasie, PA) - - OPINION -

As shop­pers gear up to hit the malls and other re­tail­ers in search of Thanks­giv­ing Day and Black Fri­day bar­gains, AAA Mid-At­lantic urges shop­pers to use cau­tion, es­pe­cially in park­ing lots and garages.

“Whether it’s the thrill of hol­i­day shop­ping hus­tle and bus­tle or the hunt for the ul­ti­mate gift deal, hol­i­day shop­ping should not come at the ex­pense of safety,” ac­cord­ing to a re­lease from AAA Mid-At­lantic. “This year more re­tail­ers are open­ing ear­lier than ever be­fore, af­ter dark on Thanks­giv­ing night, and oth­ers will open be­fore day­break on Black Fri­day. AAA ad­vises shop­pers to be aware of their sur­round­ings, es­pe­cially in dark park­ing lots, and stay alert while out and about.”

Ac­cord­ing to a pre­lim­i­nary Black Fri­day shop­ping sur­vey, up to 147 mil­lion peo­ple plan to shop Black Fri­day week­end (Fri­day, Satur­day and Sun­dayF in 2012, a slight de­crease from the 152 mil­lion who planned to do so last year, ac­cord­ing to WKH 1DWLRnDO 5HWDLO )HGHUDWLRn. 6SHFL­fiFDOOy, 71 PLOOLRn VDLG they would shop and an­other 76 mil­lion said they would wait and see what re­tail­ers have in-store that week­end.

The NRF is fore­cast­ing that hol­i­day sales will in­crease 4.1 per­cent to $586.1 bil­lion this year, but two-thirds of shop­pers UHVSRnGLnJ WR D UHFHnW 15) VuUYHy VDLG WKH fiVFDO FOLII DnG other eco­nomic con­cerns would af­fect their hol­i­day spend­ing. In NRF’s re­cently-re­leased hol­i­day spend­ing sur­vey, just over half – 52.3 per­cent – of those polled said the state of the econ­omy is im­pact­ing their hol­i­day spend­ing plans, but that’s down from 62.2 per­cent last year.

AAA Mid-At­lantic also re­minds shop­pers to pack their pa­tience when nav­i­gat­ing through crowded park­ing lots and garages. Care­less and inat­ten­tive driv­ing in these tight ar­eas could re­sult in ad­di­tional hol­i­day ex­penses, in­clud­ing fend­er­ben­ders, per­sonal in­juries and a gen­eral Grinch-like at­ti­tude. Ac­cord­ing to the In­sur­ance In­sti­tute for High­way Safety, about 20 per­cent of all ve­hi­cle col­li­sions that re­sult in dam­age claims oc­cur in park­ing lots. AAA’s Black Fri­day Safety Tips Stay on guard in park­ing lots. Pay at­ten­tion to where you park, note park­ing lot signs and mark­ers. Choose a well-lit area to park dur­ing early morn­ing hours and at night. When re­turn­ing to your ve­hi­cle, have keys ready in hand and check the car’s in­te­rior be­fore en­ter­ing, us­ing a pen­light at night. Re­port sus­pi­cious peo­ple or cars.

See and be seen. Use your head­lights when scour­ing park­ing garages for spa­ces, even dur­ing the day. Avoid park­ing be­tween a pair of tall SUss 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.

Stay on track and alert. Pedes­tri­ans should use walk­ways DnG FURVVZDONV, LI DYDLODEOH. ,I ZDONLnJ Ln WUDI­fiF ODnHV LV un­avoid­able, be alert for cues — in­clud­ing ex­haust or re­verse lights — that sig­nal a ve­hi­cle is about to pull out. When be­hind the wheel, al­ways be on the look­out for pedes­tri­ans, HVSHFLDOOy VPDOO FKLOGUHn. ,n SDUNLnJ ORWV, LW FDn EH GLI­fiFuOW to see small chil­dren, who may make quick, un­pre­dictable move­ments.

Thieves like to win­dow shop. Place all shop­ping bags and valu­ables in the trunk, in­clud­ing the GPS units and their mounts. It takes a thief just sec­onds to smash a win­dow and steal your loot.

And if all of that sounds like it’s too much, wait un­til Cy­ber Mon­day. Avoid the crowds and take ad­van­tage of spe­cial on­line pro­mo­tions.

News-her­ald photo — DEBBY HIGH

SLEEP OUT FOR HOME­LESS­NESS ... Ewan Mal­colm, 10, be­gins to learn what it feels like to sleep out in the cold on a makeshift bed dur­ing the Sleep Out for Home­less­ness event held as part of Hunger and Home­less­ness Aware­ness Week at Trin­ity Lutheran...

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