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Black Friday Safety Tips for Holiday Shoppers

Black Friday CrowdThanksgiving is time for family traditions, and turkey of course. Maybe you watch the parade on TV while you cook. Maybe you go around the table saying what you’re thankful for. Or maybe, like millions of Americans, you relish in Black Friday shopping bargains. The biggest shopping day of the year, and the unofficial start to the holiday season, stirs shoppers into a frenzy of mapping out sale items while fighting against the inevitable turkey-coma that follows any big Thanksgiving meal.

With all of this stirred up activity and drive to buy, buy, buy, it’s no wonder that Black Friday can be dangerous. The sheer amount of car and foot traffic is risky enough, but sleep deprivation is added on top when sales begin at midnight or 4 a.m. Then there are those who take advantage of the weary-eyed shoppers; thieves and pickpockets are frequenters of the Black Friday hullabaloo. Follow these safety tips to protect your money, purchases and yourself on Black Friday.

In the Parking Lot

  • Lock your doors and roll up the windows any time you leave your car.
  • If you’re shopping while it’s dark outside, avoid parking in secluded areas and park under a light when possible.
  • Take note of where you parked so you don’t spend extra time wandering the parking lot in search of your car.
  • Dig your keys out of your purse or pocket as you leave a store so you don’t have to fumble around in the parking lot. Perform a quick check underneath your car and in the backseat before getting into your vehicle. You may choose to keep a small can of pepper spray on your key ring.
  • Loading your arms with bags can limit your range of vision and prevent you from defending yourself if you get into a sticky situation. Bring a friend or spouse, ask a store employee for assistance or make several trips to your car so you don’t have to carry too much.
  • Lock your purse inside of your car (make sure your keys are in your hand first) before loading in your purchases. Never leave you purse unattended in a shopping cart.
  • Load purchases directly into your trunk to prevent thieves from seeing what you have (pertains mostly to shoppers who plan to travel to several stores). Never leave anything of value in your back seat or anywhere else in plain sight. Hide items before leaving a location; if you move them into your trunk once you reach your destination, thieves can see that you’ve left valuables unattended.
  • Always look both ways before backing out of a parking spot. A bigger truck or SUV to your side may block your view of an oncoming car, so back out slowly.

In the Store

  • Keep your purse zipped and close to your body. Do not leave your purse or wallet unattended in a shopping cart.
  • If you have another shopper with you (particularly a child), plan ahead of time where to meet if you get separated. Cell phone reception may be spotty with the influx of people in one area.
  • Do not push or shove anyone to reach a particular item. This type of activity can cause others to trip and fall.
  • Use a credit/debit card so thieves cannot take a wad of irreplaceable cash from you. If possible, only carry one credit card; it’s easier to cancel one card than to cancel all of them if your wallet is stolen. To that note, leave all personal effects at home. Carry only what you’ll need to shop.
  • Do not take your credit card out until the cashier is ready to receive payment. This will prevent someone from extracting your account information while looking over your shoulder.

If you choose to shop online from the safety of your personal computer, make sure that you only shop from trusted, verified retailers to prevent identity theft. However you choose to spend Black Friday, stay safe and enjoy your holiday!



Tips for Avoiding Fires on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the number one day for home cooking fires across America, according to the National Fire Protection Association, with Texas taking the lead for the highest number of fires occurring on the beloved holiday. It’s easy to get sloppy with safety while cooking for such a large group of people; there are simply too many things to worry about in order to get your feast just right. But safety should never be forsaken. Ensuring the safety of your kitchen just makes the pumpkin pie that much sweeter.

Cooking SafetyUse Cooking Appliances Properly
The leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking. Stay in the kitchen at all times when frying, grilling or broiling food. For simmering, roasting, baking or boiling, feel free to set the table and finish other household chores, but remain at home the whole time. If you find that you are absentminded while cooking, set a timer to alert you when food must be checked.

When cooking, wear clothes that fit snugly. Dangling sleeves can easily catch fire on the stovetop. To that end, keep oven mitts, potholders, wooden utensils, paper products, towels, food packaging and other flammable objects away from the stove as well. Leftover food debris on your stove or in your oven increases the risk of fire, so keep your cooking appliances clean.

Preventing and Treating Burns
Accidentally knocking over a pan full of hot food can cause unpleasant burns, but these scenarios are easy to prevent. Using the back burners whenever possible and turning pan handles away from you reduces the risk of accidental tipping. All cords to countertop appliances, such as a mixer or blender, should be neatly coiled and stored away from the counter’s edge.

Wearing snug long sleeves and closed-toe shoes reduces your skin’s exposure to hot liquids and cooking surfaces. However, protecting your hands is key to your ability to continue preparing for the holiday. Always wear oven mitts or use potholders when moving hot food vessels. 

In the event that you do get burned, treat it immediately by submerging your skin in cool water for three to five minutes. If the burn is larger than your fist or looks to be higher than a first degree burn, seek medical help as soon as possible.

If your clothes catch fire, partake in the good ‘ole stop, drop and roll. Stop what you are doing right away, drop to the floor (with your hands covering your face for protection) and roll side to side to put out the fire. Once again, cool any burns with water and seek medical attention if necessary.

Fighting or Fleeing From Fires
Fire SafetyIf you think you can safely fight a small fire, there are certain techniques you should use. Always keep an oven mitt and non-glass lid nearby for such occasions. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, don the oven mitt and carefully slide the lid over the pan to smother the fire. Immediately turn off the burner and leave the lid in place until the pan is completely cool. Removing the lid prematurely can restart the fire. Remember to never pour water into a grease fire! It can cause burning oil to splash and spread the fire.
If a fire starts in your oven or microwave, leave the door shut and turn the appliance off immediately. Do not open the door until the fire is completely out. If an appliance fire should happen in your kitchen, have the oven and/or microwave inspected by a professional before using again.

If you have any doubt at all about your ability to contain or extinguish a fire, vacate your home right away. Close any doors behind you as you leave to prevent the fire from spreading further. Alert any other people and ensure that they exit as quickly as possible. Grab a phone on your way out so you can call 911 for help.

The Dangers of Turkey Fryers
Turkey fryers are becoming increasingly more popular among Thanksgiving connoisseurs. However, they are the biggest fire hazard one can face on turkey day. These top-heavy fryers have a tendency to tip over, spill hot oil and/or overheat. These appliances should always be used outdoors in a well-ventilated area a distance away from your garage, carport, walls and fences. Never leave a heated turkey fryer unattended.

Start by completely thawing and drying your turkey before cooking. Frozen, cold or even wet birds can produce bubbling oil spills over the pot’s rim and onto the burner, which can catch fire. Cover your bare skin and raise/lower your turkey very slowly to reduce oil splatter.

Keep your propane tank at least two feet upwind from the burner to keep the wind from blowing heat toward the gas. If you notice the oil smoking, turn off the gas supply immediately. In the event of a fire, call 911 and avoid any attempt to put out the fire with water. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby as a safety precaution.

Thanksgiving rolls many people’s favorite foods into one celebratory day. Tack on spending time with friends and family and the recipe for a great holiday is complete. Taking safety measures while preparing your Thanksgiving favorites will ensure a happy, healthy holiday.

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