If shopping is one of America’s favorite pastimes, the holiday season is its Super Bowl. It seems like everyone is out shopping in the week before and after Christmas. There are the before-Christmas shoppers grabbing last-minute stocking stuffers, the after-Christmas bargain hunters looking for sales, and the recipients who are looking to exchange their gifts for something they would rather have. As fun and innocent as it all is, holiday shopping can also be dangerous. Since no one wants to start off 2017 by filing an insurance claim, we are listing the safety tips you need to know before hitting the mall.
1. Traffic Safety
Getting to your destination can be tricky during the holiday season when a combination of wintery Wisconsin weather and congested roadways can complicate the drive. If at all possible, avoid driving when roads are slick, or visibility is poor. You should also plan to leave early to allow for delays. With so many people visiting retailers at the same time, expect to witness or perhaps be the victim of an aggressive driver. If you notice someone showing signs of road rage, do not engage them.
2. Parking Lot Safety
Parking lots can be dangerous for a number of reasons – especially during the holiday season. If you find yourself in the midst of this chaos, you know how frustrating it can be. However, there are also dangers that come with crowded parking lots.
First, choose a parking space based on how well lit it is, it’s proximity to the store you are visiting and the vehicles around it. You want to minimize the time you spend walking in the parking lot and ensure you and your vehicle are easily seen by passersby. Also, be aware of your surroundings as you approach or get out of your vehicle. Never roll down the windows for strangers who approach your car.
Next, never leave your car running unattended, even just to run into a gas station or make a quick return. Opportunistic thieves would love nothing more than the keys to your vehicle, already in the ignition. Plus, the heat from the exhaust is a dead give-away that the motor is running.
Finally, avoid storing valuables inside your vehicle, or at least do not leave them in plain sight. Packages, shopping bags, electronic devices, and purses are eye candy for thieves who wouldn’t mind shattering your car window for a quick getaway. Sure, your affordable car insurance and homeowner’s insurance might take care of car damages and personal belongings losses that exceed your deductibles, but who wants to file a claim during the holidays?
3. ATM Safety
Automatic teller machines (ATMs) are a convenient way of getting quick cash – especially when many banks and credit unions have limited holiday hours. However, they can also be targets for crooks who want to get their hands on your money. If you must use an ATM, make sure you choose one carefully. Avoid ATMs hidden in dark shadows. Instead, choose one that is well-lit, even if it means you might have to pay a small convenience fee. You should also carefully check the ATM card reader for signs of tampering, as advised by Consumer Reports.