You might think that visiting your local shopping centre won't be a hazard, but that's not always the case. On 22 January 2012 a young girl damaged her foot while barefoot on an escalator at a shopping centre in Durban. Mishka Roux, 6, lost three toes in the terrible accident. Soon after, she was rushed to hospital, where a section of her foot had to be amputated.
These types of accident can happen, but there are ways to avoid shopping injuries and disasters.
Most shopping centres have disclaimers at their entrances, telling you that this shopping experience is at your own risk – and that risk is not only of financial ruin. If, however you can prove that the shopping centre was negligent, you can still claim damages from the management. But this is difficult to prove.
So what are the risks and how can you minimise your chances of getting hurt?
Trolley trepidation. Trolleys are handy things and can be loaded sky high with groceries, household necessities, and it's even got a seat for your toddler. But trolleys are heavy metal things and if someone were to bump into you with one that was fully laden, you could sustain nasty bruises and cuts. Not to speak of broken bones if one were to go over your foot. Watch out for these, especially if you are standing still and someone comes zooming round the corner. The term 'trolley rage' was not coined for nothing.
Slip slide in the shop. Slippery floors, wet weather and high heels don't go well together. Sometimes floors are wet from being washed or having things spilled on them. Nasty injuries can be sustained from slipping in or on things such as broken mayonnaise jars on the floor. Watch out especially for signs indicating that the floor is being washed.
Tower of tins. Promotional displays in supermarkets often consist of a pyramid of tins of a particular product. A toddler dislodging a tin near the bottom can result in an avalanche of heavy tins, which can cause some serious injuries. Be on the lookout.
Crazy crowds. Try and avoid doing your shopping when everyone else is. Most shopping centres stay open late and open quite early. When there are thousands of people, your shopping trip will take three times as long and the chances of anything going wrong, are much greater. Early Sunday mornings or after 7 pm at night are good times for grocery shopping.
Escalator scare. Escalators can be scary things. Their sides are not very high and long dresses could easily be caught in the moving stairs. It is easy to fall getting on or off these. Escalators should never be used to play on. If you have small children with you, it is safer to take the lift. If you have no option, carry them.
Revolving doors. These are electronic doors that move at a set pace. Several years ago there was an incident where a woman was badly injured when caught in a revolving door at a Cape Town shopping centre. As with escalators, extreme care should be taken when getting on and getting off one of these.
Parking lot paranoia. Be paranoid in parking lots. They are often quite dark and there are many places where potential muggers could hide. You are also easily distracted here, as your attention is focused on finding the keys, getting your shopping into the car and strapping in children. Be alert.
Out, out, damned spot. Wash your hands after touching lift buttons, toilet handles, doorhandles or escalator railings in shopping centres. Viruses are often spread when you touch things in public places and then touch your face. Don't eat anything without washing your hands first.
– (Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated August 2010)