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The holiday season is in full swing with malls overflowing with shoppers and cars jammed into packed parking lots. Not only is your car in danger of a ding or two, but children are especially vulnerable during the hectic holiday shopping time from the dangers of heavy traffic in parking lots and overloaded malls.

Even though the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season is exciting for everyone, there are some precautions that drivers should take to keep their cars and parcels safe from damage and theft. Additionally, parents should exercise caution with their children during this frenzied shopping time since attention spans are short, parking lots are congested and separation can occur causing panic for both the parent and child.

Car Safety:

As you happily shop your way through the mall, there are many things that can put your car in jeopardy while it sits in a mall parking lot. First, there are those testy drivers who give no quarter and insist that they can fit their car into a tight fitting parking spot. This poor lack of judgment can result in your car getting a ding, dent or scratch by the opening doors. Next is the shopper who leaves the shopping cart stranded in the parking lot instead of returning it to the holding bay. Unfortunately, a cart can roll aimlessly through the lot from the slightest breeze and your car could be the recipient of a nasty scratch. While these incidents may seem like the price your car has to pay during the holiday shopping season, there are many things that you can do to keep you and your car safe.

Since after work and weekends are the most popular shopping times for most people, consider doing your holiday shopping during the day or before noon on the weekends. This tactic will help you avoid overcrowded parking lots and reduce the number of cars you have to contend with for a spot. Best of all, it gets you out of the mall before the rush of people arrive during the peak shopping hours. With a bit of planning, you can dodge the potential for theft and damage.

Safety should always be your first priority for your car when you go holiday shopping because shopping center parking lots are prime targets for theft and vandalism. Whenever possible, park in a spot with plenty of light and close to your destination. Make certain that your windows are closed and doors are locked. Make a mental note where you parked and which store or entrance is closest to your car. Keep your parcels out of view by placing them in the trunk or under a cover where they are hidden from plain sight. Be aware of your surroundings and have your keys ready when approaching your car with parcels, especially in a garage parking lot.

child in shopping cart with familyChildren Safety:

Because it’s Christmas time, your children are overly excited with all of the festive sights and holiday shopping, but packed parking lots and crowded stores aren’t playgrounds for kids. Since kids can be unpredictable, you never know what will catch their eye or divert their attention. Therefore, always hold your children’s hand tightly in parking lots. With drivers paying more attention vying for a parking spot, they are not necessarily being alert to the potential disaster of a youngster darting out between cars. The same goes for drivers backing out of a spot in a crowded parking lot. They are hassled and harried at this time of the year, so their concentration may be lessened to children in their vicinity. Additionally, winter weather can make visibility difficult and children cannot be seen as easily as an adult, so make it a rule to hold your child’s hands when walking through any lot or parking garage. If you have to make a mad dash into the mall for a quick gift pick up, you should either take your child with you or leave them at home. Under no circumstances should you leave your children unattended in your vehicle, even for five minutes.

While in the mall, teach your children to stay close to you or hold your hand at all times while shopping. If you happen to be using a shopping cart, have your child buckled in and remain seated. In the event that your child is separated from you, instruct them to go to a store employee and ask for help. You can also map out a plan with your child ahead of time just in case a separation does occur. Pick a central meeting spot, such as your child’s favorite store since it is easier for your child to remember. Another way to handle being separated in the mall is for your child to go to the mall’s security officer for assistance. A great tip for parents is to take a picture of your child with your smart phone before entering the mall. The photo will help personnel locate a lost child because they can see exactly what the child is currently wearing. Lastly, remind your child not to talk to strangers and always accompany your child to the restrooms. An ounce of prevention is the best advice when heading into a busy and crowded mall.

Make It Wonderful:

By following some simple tips for you, your car and your child, the holiday shopping season will be fun and exciting for the whole family.

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