Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving – officially launches the holiday shopping season. Many stores open at midnight or in the wee hours of the morning, drawing crowds by offering deals with limited supplies of expensive items at low prices.

Lines can form in the early morning hours or the night before. Many people make it a tradition to begin their shopping on Black Friday and don’t consider the very real danger of suffering an injury in the commotion. However, in recent years there have been a number of cases in which shoppers have been seriously injured or even killed on Black Friday.

Stores Need Added Security on Black Friday

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) advises retailers to hire additional staff and trained security or crowd-management personnel when a large number of customers are expected.

There are several safety measures beyond increased staffing that should be in place for the safety of shoppers, including barricades and emergency protocols should there be an accident, incident or injury.

Retailers want to move as much merchandise as possible over the holiday shopping season that begins on Black Friday. But they also have a duty to protect their customers from harm. Every retailer that expects large crowds should carefully plan for the event, with the safety of customers as the top priority.

Avoid the Dangers of Black Friday Shopping

You can protect yourself and your family by being alert to the potential risks of shopping on Black Friday or other crowded shopping days. If it appears that the retailer does not have adequate security in place, you should leave – no matter how good the deals are.

Here are some tips for staying safe while shopping this holiday season.

  • Theft – Park as close to the building as possible, in a well-lit area that has security personnel in place. If you have a large number of purchases, take them home. Don’t stuff your purchases in your trunk and return to shop. Thieves are watching for those who fill their trunks with packages and then leave. Look for security personnel before you go to your vehicle, and ask for security to escort you if you have concerns about safety. Do not hang your purse over a stroller or your shoulder, but carry it so that it hangs in front – over-the-shoulder bags are a target for thieves who prey on shoppers, grabbing cash, wallets and credit cards. Avoid talking on your cellphone while you are shopping. Thieves are aware that a distracted shopper makes a good target.
  • Assaults – Assaults have occurred in stores where there are limited supplies of popular items. Customers may push, shove and punch others in an effort to get to the item that they want. Riots have broken out in some locations, with multiple assaults and injuries. Assaults and thefts can also take place in parking lots as shoppers return to their vehicles with loaded shopping carts or bags. Retailers and malls have a duty to protect shoppers from assaults, both inside the store and in the parking lot.
  • Falls – The winter months can mean wet and slippery floors, as well as icy and snowy sidewalks and parking lots. With hundreds of shoppers flooding into a store, the situation can quickly become dangerous. The crush of the crowd on wet and slippery floors creates a danger for shoppers. Look before you step, and avoid being caught in the crowd pushing forward, as a fall could mean being trampled, which has happened during Black Friday sales.
  • Head Injuries – Items placed high on shelves or on displays can fall and injure shoppers. A slip or trip and fall may also lead to serious head injuries with long-term physical damage.
  • Car Accidents – With herds of pedestrians trying to enter a store, and many vehicles circling to find parking spots, the risk of being injured in a pedestrian/vehicle accident increases on Black Friday and the rest of the holiday shopping season. Be alert to traffic and keep children close at all times.
  • Cluttered Walkways – Stores may have large displays of heavy items that could fall on customers, or displays that obstruct walkways, putting customers at risk of tripping and falling. Every store owner or manager is expected to exercise reasonable care for the safety others, and this includes keeping walkways clear of obstructions that could endanger shoppers.

Black Friday is a great day to receive major discounts on expensive items. However, do not let these deep discounts come at the cost of serious injury to you or your family. Be mindful of the situation and your surroundings at all times to avoid injury or possible robberies during this time.

If you or a loved is injured in a Black Friday accident, our the Pisanchyn Law Firm can help get the compensation deserved for your injuries. Call 1-800-444-5309 for a free consultation. We have offices in Scranton, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg and will travel to you.