Beware of the Mobs: How to Stay Safe on Black Friday

November 20, 2013
by Michael Barber
Beware of the Mobs: How to Stay Safe on Black Friday

In many ways, Black Friday turns shopping malls and outlet stores into cage fighting arenas. Armed with heavy purses, coupons, ads and thermoses of coffee, eager shoppers seek out bargains galore in the wee hours of the night. Sadly, they occasionally find more than they bargain for, and visits to urgent care centers have become a common during Black Friday shopping.

Related: Accident Prone: Common Holiday Accidents [INFOGRAPHIC]

Know the Danger Zones

Walk-in clinics, emergency rooms, and first responders have realized there is a common theme to the worst shopping-related injuries that bring consumers to their urgent care locations. 

  • The front door - Although being first in line is the dream of every bargain hunter, it is also a dangerous place to find yourself. Unless you are nimble on your feet and plan on breaking into a jog, there is the danger of getting trampled by the crowd behind you.
  • Among angry shoppers - When the store sells out of the half-price plasma TVs in minutes, there are going to be unhappy shoppers. Do not get caught up in a mob that may escalate its behavior and either turn on those lucky enough to snag a bargain or those whom they identify to be somehow unsympathetic.
  • Carrying heavy bags - If you have lucked out and gotten your iPods, iPads, and other iWares, remember that you become an easy target for those who have not been so lucky. In a tight crowd, it can happen that someone will try to wrestle your bags away from you and make a getaway.

Plan Your Trips

Since you are not only racing the crowds but probably also against the clock, it pays to plan out your Black Friday shopping excursion like a military operation. Know ahead of time which stores you intend to visit and at what times. If you go shopping with other people, make a plan for your group. Know where and when you will meet. If at all possible, divide the shopping sprees so that every shopper targets a different consumer good.

Related: Care Continuum: Where to Go When Your Sick or Injured

Think of the Ancillaries

  • Wear comfortable shoes - There is a possibility that your feet will get stepped on by over-eager buyers. If you have sturdy work boots or hiking boots, do not feel weird about wearing them. It is better to wear unusual footwear than to visit an emergency retail clinic with a broken toe or two.
  • Charge your cell phone - Keep in contact with other members of your group via cell phone.
  • Fill the tank with gas - You may be stuck in the parking lot for a while as everyone else is trying to clear out. Having a full tank of gas lets you keep warm and cozy with no worries about running out of fuel.
  • Bring snacks - Although you may not think that after eating your Thanksgiving meal you could ever be hungry again, there is a good chance that your blood sugar will take a dip in the middle of the night. Have energy bars, yogurt, and fruit on hand for a quick healthy snack.

Shopping on Black Friday is an event many of us enjoy and others dread. Above all, avoid confrontations with angry shoppers and if you can't get the exact item you've wanted, there's always Cyber Monday. Or, as the Christmas holiday nears many retailers drop prices on the gift items you desire even more than the prices offered on Black Friday.