People are fighting, screaming and yelling all around you. Did you fall asleep and wake up playing the Squid Game? The crowd fights and claws to get past you. How can this be the beginning of the merriest time of year?

In the United States, Black Friday is the day after the Thanksgiving holiday. It is known for huge discounts, angry crowds and very long lines of shoppers waiting to purchase limited quantities of merchandise. Black Friday has become notorious for violent conflicts, human stampedes and people being crushed to death by other shoppers.

So, how can you avoid being trampled to death when you’re trying to get that last video game console? Should you travel in groups? How can online shopping be just as dangerous? And why is it best to avoid sugar?

Black Friday is no joke. Since 2006, this outrageous day of discounts has resulted in 14 deaths and 117 injuries in total. If you’re not careful, you could become just another one of those statistics. So grab onto your shopping cart and listen closely. The store’s about to open.

Step 1: Adults Only

While we all love to spend time with our children, this is not the occasion to do that. On Black Friday in 2011, an off-duty police officer in North Carolina sprayed pepper spray into a crowd of people who were grabbing items off shelves before the employees had finished putting the merchandise on display.

It injured 20 people, including children, according to eyewitness reports. One young girl had to go to the emergency room immediately because she had asthma. But if you have to take children with you, make sure they know how to identify a security guard or employee and ask for help if they get lost.

Step 2: Have a Plan

Always prepare your shopping list ahead of time. Look at what’s on sale, and adapt your list ahead of time if need be. But make sure you know what you want before going into a store. Remember to stick to your budget too. You do not want to fall victim to impulse buying and purchase items you do not need.

Step 3: Use the Buddy System. Don’t go alone.

Take a shopping buddy with you who wants to shop for the same things. And choose someone who prefers the same pace and shopping hours as you do. If you shop slowly, pair up with another slowpoke. And if you’re a “power shopper,” your shopping buddy should be a power shopper too.

Step 4: Go Cyber

In 2020, a Deloitte survey found that about 51% of American buyers were worried about shopping in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So online shopping on Black Friday increased by 8%, setting a record with over 100 million online shoppers.

There are many Black Friday deals online available by midnight on Thursday. This will save you gas, time and money if you find everything you need online. But remember that online shopping also comes with its own set of dangers. When you buy things on the internet, your personal financial information could be stolen by cyber criminals.

That’s why it’s important to make sure you only shop from websites you can trust. One indicator of a website’s security is whether their URL begins with “https” or “http”. Https is usually more secure. Another good tip is to avoid using public Wi-Fi to buy things online, as this makes your information vulnerable to hackers.

Step 5: Watch Your Diet

It’s a good idea to Take water/juice and snacks so that you can easily replenish yourself while shopping. This will ensure you do not become exhausted quickly and it will save you from having to navigate and stand in line in malls’ food courts. Although that cinnamon roll looks tasty, avoid eating sugary foods. They will quickly spike your blood sugar level, so you feel a “crash” in your energy.

You will need that energy to pack all your items in your car. And be careful in the parking lot since carjackings are very popular during the holidays. Do you know where the best place to park is to avoid being a target?

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