As much as your loved ones appreciate the material gifts you buy for them each year, the most meaningful present of all is your continued safety - so don't forget about personal security while you rush around in the holiday bustle. Here are 10 tips for shopping safely.
- Stick together - especially if you're with children
There's safety in numbers, and for children, there's safety with trusted adults. Make sure you stick together with your party and have everyone with you before you leave each store. Have a meet-up location planned in case anyone gets lost.
- Pay with credit card when possible
In a worst-case scenario where your purse or wallet gets stolen, would you rather it contain cash that you may never see again, or a credit card you can immediately cancel? Of course, be sure to call your bank to cancel the card and dispute fraudulent charges as soon as possible.
- Prep your purse
Essentials for a day out shopping: fully charged cell phone and power bank, license and car insurance information (in case of a breakdown), any medication needed, snacks and water. Place some emergency cash in your inside coat or front pants pocket in case your billfold gets stolen.
- Use light to your advantage
The cover of darkness makes those who wish you harm feel more comfortable committing crimes. Light deters crime by signaling to criminals that there’s a chance of a security camera, police officer or another bystander catching them in the act. Park and walk under streetlights whenever possible, and have your exterior home lights on as you exit your car and enter the house. Even better, get all of your shopping done during daylight hours.
- Be alert & goal-oriented when walking to your car
Have your car keys out and at the ready when walking to your car. This way, you won't have to spend any time in a dark parking garage fumbling for your keys. In addition, walk with your head up and shoulders back to emulate confidence.
- Lighten your load
Criminals want an easy target, and they see this in someone who has their hands too full to defend themselves effectively. Don't buy more than you can carry to your car with one hand free. If you have more merchandise than this, see if you can mail it to your home or get help from a store employee.
- Carry a personal safety tool
The best thing to do with your one free hand is carry your car keys and a personal safety tool, such as pepper spray or personal alarm.