Crowd Control: Black Friday Mob Safety Tips
When prices on flat screens are slashed and savings on bed sheets hit rock bottom shoppers can get excited. Combine that with a lack of sleep and lines that rival Disney World rides and sometimes the outcome is not so pretty. Black Friday mobs have been known to get out of control, but thankfully stores are doing more to prepare for the onslaught of shoppers. And there are simple things you can do to keep yourself safe as well.
Learning From Past Black Friday Mistakes
Tragically Black Friday hasn't always been festive fun. This raw video shows what happened when an excited crowd entered a North Buffalo Target store a few years ago. Some shoppers were trampled and a local news photographer caught it all on tape.
Back in 2008 when a Long Island Walmart employee was trampled by a Black Friday mob the Occupational Safety and Health Administration stepped in, creating guidelines for retailers. OSHA sends retailers a pre-planning checklist that includes advice for managing Black Friday crowds. OSHA tells retailers to prepare by:
- Setting up barricades or rope lines for crowd management well in advance of customers arriving at the store.
- Making sure that barricades are set up so that the customers' line does not start right at the entrance to the store, allowing for orderly crowd management entry and making it possible to divide crowds into small groups for the purpose of controlling entrance.
- Ensuring that barricade lines have an adequate number of breaks and turns at regular intervals to reduce the risk of customers pushing from the rear and possibly crushing others, including workers.
- Designating workers to explain approach and entrance procedures to the arriving public, and direct them to lines or entrances.
In settings with big, unruly crowds there is safety in numbers. To avoid falling in the middle of a Black Friday mob lock arms with your shopping companions. That will keep everyone more stable and less likely to endure an injury.
Wear Comfortable Clothing
Black Friday is not the time to pull out your fancy heels. Wear tennis shoes and comfortable clothing. Not only will it make the long lines a little easier to handle, but if you need to make a quick exit you'll be glad you're wearing shoes with non-slip soles.
Keep Belongings Close
Thieves also see Black Friday as a great opportunity to score big. When crowds are large and confined that's when crooks have the best opportunity to pick your pockets. Consider using a cross-body bag to keep your wallet and phone close. Pockets with zippers can also help deter a criminal looking for an easy target. Carry as few valuables as possible because the less you have to steal the less intriguing you'll be to bad guys.
To reduce the frenzy, try shopping at stores where doorbusters are guaranteed. That lowers the adrenaline rush for people who think they may be competing for just a handful of items at the reduced price. For instance this year Walmart is offering a one-hour in stock guarantee. That means if you're at the store between 6pm and 7pm on Thanksgiving you are guaranteed to get the doorbuster deal. If the product sells out simply purchase a Guarantee Card to lock in the low price.
Consider Shopping Online
Many retailers are now offering Black Friday deals that once would have been in-store exclusives, online in advance. The hope is that more people will be able to take advantage of the deal in a way that doesn't require battling crowds. Kohl's has already started their Black Friday deals, along with several other retailers who are turning what was once a one-day event into a week-long shopping extravaganza. And not only does it mean you don't have to brave the cold to score great deals, but you can also stay away from the huge crowds.