Going shopping on Black Friday? Check these safety tips first.

Want to stay safe this Black Friday?

Stay home.

Not only will you protect yourself and those in your household from potential exposure to COVID-19, but you also won’t be missing out on all the discounts.

As in years past, retailers are offering Black Friday deals online, meaning there will be plenty of opportunities to take advantage of slashed prices before Cyber Monday and after you’ve stuffed yourself to the gills on Thanksgiving.

If you still must head out to hunt for those coveted items on Black Friday, here are some ways to reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure.

Black Friday

At some stores, you can avoid lines (and exposure to others) by staying in your car.Philip Pacheco | Getty Images

Plan ahead

Don’t waste time in the store. Know what you want, along with where and how you’re going to get it.

Want that TV? Figure out the pricing details and, ideally, the exact store where you plan to buy the TV (as opposed to going from store to store).

The risk of COVID exposure increases with the amount of time you spend in any one place in proximity to people from outside your household. If you can’t stay home, be meticulous about social distancing. Is someone getting too close to you in a line? You might ask them to respectfully leave some space or exit the scene altogether — a good buy isn’t worth “braving” crowds this year.

“The more time you spend near somebody else, the more risk you are creating,” says Justin Beck, CEO of Contakt World, a tech company in Oceanside, California that conducts digital contact tracing, which helps alert people who may have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Black Friday

Curbside pickup is your friend.Philip Pacheco | Getty Images

By the same token, a fleeting contact can be dangerous enough.

“It’s a misconception that it takes 15 minutes to transmit COVID-19,” Beck says. A Black Friday shopper could be standing in line next to someone who is shedding virus and be exposed after just a minute in the same airspace.

But don’t think you necessarily have to enter a store to make a purchase. After all, this is 2020. We do almost everything online or in a car.

Stay in the car

Curbside pickup isn’t just for food.

Many stores allow customers to order the items they want online and drive by for pickup — no trip inside the store necessary. Check each retailer’s website for pickup options.

This virtually contact-free shopping experience is infinitely preferable to the alternative — a holiday rush in which masks don’t prevent people from bumping into each other.

Look for ventilation

If you absolutely have to dive into Black Friday in person, do so wearing an FFP2 or KN95 mask, Beck says.

Another precaution to take is to figure out the ventilation situation, especially if a store is on the smaller side. You may want to support your local mom and pop store or small business, but smaller spaces have the potential to ramp up risk.

Look for open doors and windows that can aid airflow and cut down on the dangers of shopping in public.

“It might get cold in there, but there is far less risk,” Beck says.

Limit trips

Just as it’s important to know where you’re going and what you’re buying before you leave the house, consider just how many stores you’ll visit over Black Friday weekend.

Maybe you’re also going to buy groceries. What’s the difference in risk between going to the supermarket and heading to other retailers for Black Friday deals on things like home appliances?

“You need to eat — you may not need to buy a TV,” Beck says.

Plan accordingly, and wherever possible, arrange curbside pickup.

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Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at [email protected].

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