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Drew: Ways to stay safe doing mall shopping this holiday season

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By Samuetta Hill Drew

With the recent mall occurrence of the unfortunate tragic situation in Hoover, Alabama the night of Thanksgiving 2018, I believed it important to review some basic safety tips for shopping in large malls/shopping centers, especially during the holiday season. The safety tips referenced in this article are meant solely to help you have a pleasant shopping experience as you navigate through the increased store traffic during the holiday season. The focus, and intent is it help you remain alert and aware of your surroundings to better respond and remain relatively safe if faced with a safety/security situation while shopping in a mall.They are also meant to help you better prepare for your shopping experience by making good decisions to increase safety while mall shopping.

Please note the contents contained in this article does not have any direct bearing on the current investigation into the Hoover Mall situation. Be aware these safety tips or any others can never guarantee that you will not ever experience a safety sensitive or high-risk safety scenario.

  • When preparing to shop make sure you have cleared your trunk to allow enough space to store your packages. Some of you may already have filled your trunks with holiday packages. but you never want to leave packages inside your vehicle in plain sight either at the mall or at home (if you don’t park inside of your home garage). This makes your vehicle a target for a possible break-in. Remember thieves are very tech savvy and smart as it relates to vehicle alarm systems. So, don’t place your trust solely on your vehicle alarm system to protect you.
  • Make sure you are aware of all mall and store exits when shopping. Merely take a few minutes to scan around current location and look for the exit signage. By law all malls and stores must display a sign indicating how to exit their mall or store. It is also located on the mall directory. In today’s world, this is a basic habit you should establish when you’re shopping, eating out or attending an event anywhere in the public.
  • Pay close attention to mall and store restrooms. Never allow your child to enter alone! If they persist because of their age and you’re of another gender let them know you will remain outside until they come out. Society has changed so, it is no longer a good idea to ask a stranger who looks safe to watch your child. Create a code word between only you and your child. Let them know this word is to be used not for play but, if they are in distress. With younger children you may want to provide examples of distress situations. Make sure you don’t frighten your child, but, let them know it’s another way as a parent you can continue to protect them against harmful situations or people.
  • Also, be on the alert of large garbage bins, especially in the food courts. They can be a good storage place for criminals to hide weapons, explosives or suspicious packages.
  • Underground parking is another location you may want to steer clear of, especially if you’re alone shopping at night. It is not recommended that you shop alone, if possible. If so, always park in a well-lit area preferably close to the mall or store entrance. This recommendation is a good one to follow whether mall shopping alone or in a group.
  • Follow your instincts. If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable walking out to your vehicle because of some suspicious situation or individual, ask for the mall or store security to escort you to your vehicle.
  • If you hear a lot of loud noises, run in the opposite direction and report it. Don’t let your curiosity get the best of you.

There are many other safety tips for mall shopping, some of which were addressed last season, but Keeping an Eye on Safety during the holiday season is a must. Whether it’s these safety tips or others, make sure you put them in place. There are persons who are eager for you to let your guard down, so they can turn a profit from your misfortune.