Shopping for the holidays? Follow these safety tips

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Black Friday has passed but there’s still plenty of shopping left to do for the holidays!

AAA is reminding shoppers of important tips to follow to enjoy a safe and fun shopping experience.

1) Look out for children and distracted pedestrians. It can be difficult to see small children in busy parking lots. Children may make quick, unpredictable movements. Hold the hands of your children to keep them safe from traffic. Also, watch out for those not watching out for themselves because they are focused on their smart phones.

2) Hide your purchases but not your keys. Keep everything you buy in the trunk of your car, if possible. That way, potential thieves won’t be tempted to break into your vehicle. Don’t forget to lock your car and keep track of your keys to avoid misplacing them.

3) Stay on guard in parking lots. Be aware of your surroundings and park in well-lit areas when shopping during early morning hours and at night. When returning to your vehicle, have keys ready in hand, check under your car and in the back seat before getting in, and lock your doors as soon as you get in.

4) See and be seen. Use your headlights when scouring parking garages for spaces, even in the daytime. Avoid parking between a pair of tall SUVs or minivans where it might be hard for you to back out of the space. If you can’t see well enough to back out safely, get help from one of your passengers.

5) Slow down, buckle up and obey the laws. Drive the speed limit, stop at stop signs, don’t park in handicapped spaces, and don’t text and/or talk on the phone. Ensure all passengers are buckled up even if it is a short trip to another part of the parking lot as even a low-speed collision can result in injuries.

6) Head for the side door. Many shoppers prefer to park near their favorite stores or near the mall entrance. Most malls have secondary entrances on the sides and those entrances usually have less traffic and additional convenient spaces.

7) Play the outfield. Outlying areas normally have more open spaces, lighter traffic and a lower risk of collision. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to walk off the holiday treats. In some cases, however, those spaces may not be as secure so be aware of the risks.

8) Refrain from reverse. If possible, avoid backing out of a space by either backing into it or pulling through two spaces that are open nose-to-nose.

9) Stay on track and alert while walking. Pedestrians should use walkways and crosswalks, if available. If walking in the traffic lanes is unavoidable, be alert for subtle cues – including exhaust or reverse lights – that signal a vehicle is about to pull out. Avoid distractions and put down your smartphone and do not wear headphones in both ears.

10) Remember where you parked. This is especially important if you are shopping at a major outlet, retail center or mall with extensive parking lots. Your afternoon is sure to take a turn for the worse if you forget where you left your car, resulting in you having to lug around shopping bags while you search for it.

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