Tips for Staying Safe When You Have a Yard Sale

seller at a yard sale taking a break
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Having a yard sale isn't known as a dangerous activity, but it never hurts to take basic precautions. Yard sale shopping safety is important, and seller safety is just as crucial. You are, after all, inviting an unknown number of complete strangers to visit your home. Before you set out the merchandise, read these safety do's and don'ts for yard sale sellers.

Yard Sale Safety Do's for Sellers

  • Lock all the doors leading to your home during the yard sale, unless you're holding the sale inside. That includes the door from the garage to the interior, even if you're going in and out frequently. You may plan to guard the door, but your attention will be needed elsewhere at some point during the sale.
  • Keep your exterior and garage doors locked before the sale starts, including the night before. Yard sale shoppers are a congenial bunch in general, but some early birds do get aggressive about getting the first look.
  • Protect yourself from sun and heat. Wear sunscreen, even if it's cloudy. You may get more rays that you realize. Wear a wide-brimmed hat if you're fair or if it's especially hot outside, and check your prescription medicines for warnings about sun exposure.
  • Stay hydrated. Keep a bottle of water handy and drink it.
  • Spritz yourself regularly with a spray bottle of water if you don't handle the heat well. If it doesn't irritate your skin, add a few drops of peppermint to the water. The scent makes you feel cooler, and you'll smell better when you get sweaty.
  • Consider setting up a portable canopy in your checkout area if you're not using a garage for your sale. The type many flea market vendors use has a covered top and open sides, which allows you to watch the sale while undercover. You'll have to venture out to answer questions and mind the sale, but you can retreat to the shade during lulls.
  • Enlist a friend or family member to assist you on sale days, if at all possible. Or, make it a joint sale with a neighbor who's available for duty. It helps to have a partner during rush times at any sale. It's crucial if you can't see the entire sale at all times, such as when you're having an indoor estate sale or when some of the items are in your side yard or storage sheds. Some customers do steal, and a lone seller is easy prey to thieves who work in pairs. One party distracts you while the other helps herself to your merchandise.
  • Keep your charged cell phone in your pocket. You may just need to call someone to relieve you for a bathroom break, or you may need it to call for help with an unruly shopper.

Yard Sale Safety Don'ts for Sellers

  • Don't use a cash box unless you have a designated cashier with no other duties. No matter how good your intentions, you'll leave a box unattended at some point when you need both hands, and it may disappear. If you're running the sale alone, it's best to keep the money on your person. Opt for a fanny pack, or even better, an apron with lots of pockets.
  • Don't let your young children or pets roam the sale unattended, no matter how well-behaved they are. Yard sales get too hectic to keep a proper eye on them at all times. At best, they'll get underfoot and annoy your shoppers. At worst -- and it's a big, scary, horrible worst -- they'll get hurt or snatched when you aren't looking.
  • Don't leave your yard sale unattended, not even for a quick bathroom break. Your best merchandise may walk away. If you don't have full-time help for the sale, ask a friend or neighbor to stop by to relieve you a couple of times each day.
  • Don't allow shoppers inside your house to use the bathroom unless you already know them, no matter how desperate or harmless they may seem. Even little old ladies can be thieves. They could be casing your home for potential valuables, or they could slip something small in a pocket on their way to the bathroom. It's just not worth the risk. Direct anyone who asks to the nearest gas station or convenience store with a public restroom.