5 Simple Tailgating Safety Tips
Football season and tailgating go hand in hand. While spending the weekend grilling outside before cheering on your favorite team is tradition, it’s still a good idea to review these tailgating safety tips ahead of the next game.
1. Store and Cook Food Properly
Whether you’re grilling hot dogs or serving steak, cook and store foods properly to help avoid food poisoning, cross-contamination or spoilage. Before you get to the game, store raw meat separately from ready-to-eat foods, like fruits and veggies, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Use a meat thermometer to make sure the foods you’re grilling are cooked to the proper temperature. Be sure to keep perishable foods, like guacamole or potato salad, cool by nesting the serving dishes in a bowl of ice, says the CDC. Remember to wash hands after handling uncooked meat, and wipe down tables before serving your family and friends.
2. Use Your Grill Safely
Food hot off the grill is a good way to get the crowd cheering, but you need to exercise caution when grilling. First, be sure grills are allowed at the stadium or field, and understand the rules for grilling when it is allowed. For example, the University of Southern California prohibits grilling under tents, and grills must be at least 15 feet away from any structures.
A hot grill can be a fire hazard, so be prepared with a fire extinguisher. It’s also a good idea to have a first aid kit on hand. Keep the extinguisher nearby while grilling, and make sure children and pets are a safe distance from the grill at all times. And, never leave a grill unattended.
Whether you’re using a gas grill or prefer the flavor you get with a charcoal grill, follow these tips for using your grill safely.
Before using a gas grill, check the hose for leaks by applying water with a little soap mixed in, says the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). You’ll see bubbles if the propane is leaking, and you should have the grill repaired by a professional. Always leave the lid open when you light the grill, says the NFPA. Also, if the flame goes out while you’re cooking, turn the grill off and wait 5 minutes before lighting it again.
If your pregame routine involves firing up a charcoal grill with lighter fluid, make sure it is charcoal lighter fluid, says the NFPA — and never add lighter fluid once the fire has already started. Make sure you’ve put out all the embers and that the coals have cooled completely before you head off to the game, and dispose of ashes in a metal container, says the NFPA.
3. Protect Yourself From the Sun
Tailgating often means a long day in the sun. Even on cool days, it’s a good idea to help protect yourself from sunburn and dehydration. Be sure to apply (and reapply) sunscreen throughout the day. The CDC also recommends wearing sunglasses and a hat. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
4. Tackle Your Trash
Leaving garbage on the ground or parking lot is not only irritating to other tailgaters, it can also be a potential hazard. Clean up your tailgating area before you head into the stadium. Be sure to pack heavy-duty trash bags before you leave home, says The Kitchn. Know where you can recycle cans, bottles and other recyclables, and have a way to safely pack up leftovers.
5. Protect Your Valuables
Tailgating has become high-tech in recent years — from satellite TVs to coolers with wireless speakers. While you’re at the venue watching the game, your gear could be at risk for theft. Purdue University recommends tailgaters lock valuables out of sight. Also, secure coolers, chairs, barbecue grills and other items.
Tailgating can be a great way to kick off a day of cheering for your favorite team with family and friends. Help keep the day fun with a game plan to protect yourself and your gear.
Originally published on January 1, 2013.