We are counting down the days until Black Friday, and each year local and national reports indicate that consumers and customers get harmed during some of the mad rush to get into doors to grab limited-quantity “door-buster” deals. Everyone has to exercise caution and be safe. Self-Defense expert Jarrett Arthur offers some tips for the Black Friday season. Jarrett, a high-ranking Krav Maga black belt instructor and Program Director at the Krav Maga Worldwide National Training Center has taught hundreds of men, women and children self defense, has these 5 tips:
1) Pay attention to your surroundings, not the Tickle Me Elmo in aisle 3. I doubt it’s caused by the overconsumption of Tryptophan, but Black Friday tends to bring out the crazy in people. From shoppers pepper-spraying other shoppers to armed robberies, fistfights to all out stampedes, there is an undeniable spike in the crime rate. People lose their freakin’ minds on this particular day of the year, and shoppers are so focused and intent on snagging the item they want that they miss important cues around them that may signal danger early on. Avoid chatting, texting, or running price comparisons on your smart phone, and instead opt to use your eyes, ears, and gut instinct as you shop. Frequently check the space and people around you, open your field of vision by occasionally scanning the entire store or parking lot. Don’t ignore someone who is behaving oddly, utilize one of the many armed guards that major stores will be hiring and let them know what you saw and where you saw it.
2) Check your ego at the door. Seriously. Did you see it first? Where you first in the line? Was it in your cart? Probably. While I’m all for standing your ground and not letting anyone hassle you or take advantage, I’m also for remaining intact and alive. Without a doubt, the number one culprit of crime on Black Friday is out of control ego and the bewildering life or death urgency that people put on the purchase of material possessions. And argument can quickly escalate into a shoving match, which can easily escalate into strikes being thrown, and potentially a weapon being brandished. If the threat of escalation becomes real, your best option is to walk away, particularly if your kids are in tow.
3) Have an escape plan and a pre-determined meeting place with family. Violence has a ripple effect. Especially in crowded places, a confrontation in one section of a store can spread to chaos throughout with unbelievable speed. Take a few moment upon entering a building, store, or shop to identify less-obvious exits (read: the ones in the back), which will be easier to navigate in an emergency since the majority of shoppers will immediately flock to main entrances. Determine a quick emergency escape route with your family, and choose an easily identifiable location outside the building to use as a safe meeting place in case of separation.
4) Crowds are dangerous. Any competent self-defense instructor will agree that the key to staying safe in a confrontation is to create as much space as possible by any means necessary. Super tricky to do when you and a couple hundred strangers are packed in front of a sliding glass door like sardines counting down the seconds until you can get your hands on a brand new _____. Here’s where vigilance and listening to your gut are extra important. Small scuffles can rapidly turn into chaotic and very dangerous situations. If something doesn’t feel right, throw in the towel and head home. Merchandise X is definitely not worth your safety and wellbeing. Additionally, pickpockets love lines and crowds because you’re forced into close quarters. Keep wallets, purses, and bags tightly zipped (a small luggage lock is added protection) and on the front of your body. Standing sideways in lines also gives you a little bit more space.
|Jarrett Arthur, Self-Defense Expert
5) Parking lots and vehicles are prime territory for bad guys (and gals). Think about it. It’s dark outside, hundreds of shoppers are flooding parking lots at odd hours of the morning and night, parking way far away from entrances, wandering back to their isolated cars distracted by post-purchase reveling, most likely on their phones, with tons of brand new, expensive loot. Two words: prime pickings. Park as close to entrances as possible. Utilize security guards as escorts if you have to park in remote areas of the lot or garage. If you can’t easily carry your purchases in one hand or one one arm you should get a shopping cart. Get your keys (and pepper spray or stun gun if you choose to carry one) out before you even leave the store. Get off your phone, take out your earbuds. Check your surroundings frequently and check your vehicle (back seat, both sides, underneath) before approaching. Load items quickly. Stay put until automatic sliding doors, hatch backs, or lift gates shut completely before you get in, lock the doors, and drive away. Don’t spend time idling in the car organizing receipts and planning the next stop. Get in and go.