Thanksgiving is here again, and we all know what that means: A big feast, followed by Black Friday shopping! Will you be one of the millions of Americans (and thousands of Georgians) heading out to find killer deals on all your holiday shopping this Friday? If so, we’d like to share a few safety tips to help you get through the biggest shopping day of the year unscathed.

Black Friday is known for more than just heavy discounts. It’s also known for injuries, and even fatalities. From car accidents to fights and people getting trampled in department stores, every year we hear about seemingly countless holiday shopping nightmares. So, how can you take advantage of great deals and keep yourself and your family safe this Friday? Start with these tips.

Plan Ahead and Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Black Friday accidents can happen on the road, in parking lots, in stores, and even at home. And, often, these accidents happen because people are distracted and feel pressured to get where they’re going as quickly as possible. Whether you’re trying to make it to your favorite local boutique the moment they open their doors, or you’re camping out at a shopping center on Thanksgiving night, be sure to plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to go.

Remember, with a lot of non-retail businesses closed on Black Friday, traffic patterns will be unpredictable. You can expect heavier traffic throughout the day, especially around large shopping centers and retail districts. If it usually takes you 20 minutes to drive somewhere, give yourself at least 30-40 minutes to get there (or more). And, if you’re not sure how bad traffic will be, you can always check Google Maps or Waze for some insights on traffic density and route options before you leave home.

Of course, there’s more to planning ahead than just leaving a little bit early to allow for traffic. Consider everything you need to accomplish for your Black Friday shopping. Are you planning on going to more than one store? How long do you think you’ll be out? Do you need to bring some water and snacks, or plan a stop for lunch or a cup of coffee?

Take a few minutes today or tomorrow, before you actually have to go do your Black Friday shopping, and plan out your whole shopping trip. Think about which stores you’ll visit and in what order. Then pack a kit with emergency snacks and drinks, and be sure to plan your day to include plenty of downtime as you face the throngs of other shoppers.

Minimize Distractions

Speaking of planning, let’s talk about preparing for a safe trip. Black Friday is a high-stress day, and distractions can be even more dangerous than they normally are. Taking your eyes off the road for just a second could cause you to miss another driver’s erratic behavior. Letting your kids distract you in a parking lot could mean that you don’t notice someone whipping their car out of a parking space, or driving the wrong way down a one-way lane.

All kinds of things can happen on the road, in parking lots, and even in stores. You already know that it’s now illegal to handle mobile devices while driving in Georgia. However, while it’s perfectly legal to use your phone and other mobile devices while crossing a parking lot or walking through a store, we recommend putting your phone away and staying alert. The more aware you are of your surroundings, the less likely you are to get involved in an accident or other incident.

Of course, our mobile devices aren’t the only distractions in our lives. As much as we love them, our kids can be very distracting, especially when they’re restless after a long day of shopping. If you can, you may want to consider leaving your children at home or with a babysitter while you go out and get the holiday shopping done. This will help you stay focused, and you won’t have to worry about hiding any of “Santa’s” gifts from the kids while you’re shopping.

Don’t Fight Over Deals (or Anything Else)

You want to get your kids everything on their list. And you want to find an amazing deal on just the right gifts for your spouse and everyone else on your lists. Supplies are limited, and deep discounts drive demand up. People get frenzied and aggressive, and fights can break out over even the smallest things. And, when this happens, people can get badly hurt.

If you catch yourself starting to grab something or fight over a product, let go, step back, and take a breath. Even the biggest discount is not worth your health and safety. Your kids, family, and friends will appreciate spending time with you without any trips to the hospital or urgent care clinic this holiday season.

Dress for Success (and Safety)

We know a lot of you will be heading out early in the morning on Friday (or even late in the evening on Thursday). Take this timing into consideration when you choose what to wear for your shopping expedition.

If you know that you’ll be waiting outside in the cold for an extended period of time, be sure to wear warm layers and keep your head, hands, and feet protected. If you’ll be walking outside before the sun comes up (or after it sets), don’t wear dark clothes. Instead, opt for brightly colored outer layers. And, if you have anything that’s reflective, like a running vest or reflective jacket, wear that for added safety.

Also, check the weather before you grab your keys and run out the door. You don’t want to get stuck in a downpour without a raincoat or umbrella, and you certainly don’t want to be outside in chilly weather without a coat and hat. And, of course, don’t forget to wear your most comfortable pair of shoes. You can expect to be on your feet a lot in the next few hours, so don’t put yourself through the added torture of pinched toes and blistered heels.

Thanksgiving week is a wonderful time to spend with friends and family, and Black Friday can be a really fun shopping day. Keep these simple and effective safety tips in mind before you brave the crowds, and you’ll be set. Of course, accidents do happen, even to the most prepared and cautious shoppers. At The Champion Firm, we’re here for you all year-round. If you have questions about an accident or injury caused by someone else’s negligence, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.