tailgatingTailgating has become a age old tradition linked to sporting events in which several individuals gather before an event to eat, drink and socialize while supporting their favorite team. Over the years the idea of tailgating has transformed from simply cooking small items on an outdoor barbeque to now you will find tailgaters equipped with tented areas with televisions, speakers, bathrooms, full kitchens, and any other amenity you can imagine to make a tailgating experience more comfortable.

Football season and tailgating go hand in hand. Now that football season is in full gear it is a good time to be reminded of some basic safety tips to ensure you enjoy a safe tailgating experience.

Food Safety

A good tailgate is sure to have plenty of food options. However, spoiled food will ruin a good time. Make sure all food is cooked thoroughly, as partially cooked food doubles the risk of unwanted bacteria. For optimal safety, cold foods must be kept chilled and hot foods should remain heated and insulated. Never let food sit out, especially in hot weather. This is a very common problem especially for those Southern tailgaters, however, the best advice is to be prepared and plan on bringing a cooler or refrigerator. A full cooler will maintain its low temperature longer than one that is partially full, therefore pack empty spaces with ice or reusable cold packs.

Some other food related safety tips include:

  • If you’re grilling, make sure to bring a fire extinguisher. Check the expiration date on the fire extinguisher before packing it and keep it nearby while grilling.
  • Keep children and pets a safe distance from the grill at all times.
  • If you’re using a charcoal grill, make sure to cool the coals properly before putting them in a garbage container or back in your car.
  • If you’re using a gas grill, remember that loose gas hoses and improper lighting can cause numerous problems. A common mistake is lighting a gas grill while the top is closed, which can result in an explosion. If you’re unfamiliar with your grill’s safety features, read your safety guide before the game.

Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol is not a necessity for a successful tailgating experience, but it is often available and served at tailgating functions. If you are serving alcohol make sure people are playing it safe and do not get behind the wheel. Many tailgaters think that the alcohol they have drank tailgating prior to the game has “worn off” by the time they are driving home, but this is not always the case. It is a much safer bet to have a designated driver to drive tailgaters home after the big game.

Stay Hydrated

Tailgating often entails a very long day outdoors. Many people do not just tailgate before the game, but also during the game (if they were not lucky enough to score a ticket) and post game. Being out in the sun all day may not only result in a miserable sun burn, but also dehydration and even sun poisoning or heat stroke. Therefore it is important to remember to drink tons of water, especially if consuming alcohol in the sun, and apply sunscreen liberally and often.


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