Tailgating Safety Tips

Health & Safety Tips

Sep 3, 2023


For many, it’s the most wonderful time of the year — football season — and we’re here to share our favorite tailgating safety tips! Put on your jerseys, grab your coolers and your grills, and head on down to your team’s stadium for a day of fun, food, and friends. 

The act of tailgating during football season can bring many fans together, but if you aren’t aware of how to tailgate safely, you may find yourself fumbling before the game even starts! When it comes to lit fires, alcohol consumption, and sharing food, a lot can go wrong at a tailgate. Follow this guide if you want to make it through football season safely.

What are the risks of tailgating?

Southerners, Texans in particular, see tailgating as a way of life. It is a fun and community-oriented practice that allows fans and friends alike to come together for a common goal: to eat, drink, and cheer on their favorite team. Tailgating, however, can be an environment that breeds chaos if those involved are not putting safety first. Here are some of the common risks associated with tailgating along with our tailgating safety tips.

If any injuries or accidents occur at your tailgate, head over to a Complete Care facility for help. Our doors are open 24/7 so you can get the care you need as soon as possible. 

1. Grilling accidents

The food that you choose to prepare can make or break your tailgate experience. Hot dogs, steaks, burgers, and other grillable veggies are a typical crowd-pleaser! However, even the most experienced grillmasters are still prone to experiencing grilling accidents. Burns, knife cuts, smoke inhalation, and choking are all risks you take when you decide to fire up the grill at a tailgate. 

Accidents happen, so be prepared. Have a fire extinguisher and a first-aid kit handy at your tailgate so you can be ready to put out any fire (literally) that arises. Handle your tools with care, wear protective clothing and gloves, and cut back on the beers to ensure no slip-ups occur. 

2. Food poisoning 

Because food is typically the center of any good tailgate, food preparation safety and maintenance are a high priority for keeping you safe at any sports gathering. First, any perishable food must be kept in a cooler or ice chest and not left out in the sun for too long. Bring food storage containers to pack up the food when no one is currently eating it and keep it on ice. Food left out in the sun can spoil, and eating spoiled food will result in someone experiencing minor food poisoning symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and a low-grade fever. 

Lastly, if you’re going to be grilling or cooking with raw ingredients, particularly meat, be sure that the raw foods are completely separated from the ready-to-eat foods. Prepare all raw food away from the fresh ingredients and cook it through to the correct temperature before consumption. And remember to wash your hands between every step! This will reduce the risk of cross-contamination which reduces the risk of someone getting food poisoning. 

3. Alcohol poisoning 

At its core, tailgating is a celebration of your favorite team, and Texans love to celebrate with a cold one. It is very likely that alcohol will be present at any given tailgate, so practicing safe drinking habits is a must. There’s nothing worse than seeing your friend get too sloppy before kick-off and you both end up missing the game to take care of them. 

To avoid this, limit the number of drinks you have, drink water alongside those beverages, and be sure to eat before, during, and after consuming alcohol. These tips for tailgating with alcohol present will help you to metabolize the alcohol slower so you won’t get too intoxicated and can still enjoy the game. 

If you see that someone is exhibiting symptoms of being dangerously drunk — such as confusion, clammy skin, unconsciousness, or vomiting — here are the steps to take for how to help someone with alcohol poisoning. You’ll want to get them to an emergency room as soon as possible. 

Don’t be that guy that ruins the fan fun by getting sent to the ER due to alcohol poisoning. 

4. Dehydration 

If there’s one thing to know about tailgating, it’s that it is a day-long commitment. You might get to the stadium early in the morning and not leave until late at night! With all of the excitement happening around you, you may forget to hydrate yourself properly throughout the day and risk becoming dehydrated. 

That being said, ensuring that you are drinking water consistently throughout the day is the best way to avoid dehydration. Keep a refillable water bottle with you at all times and bring extras for everyone at the tailgate. Most college campuses or stadiums will have water fountains or water stations present for you to refill. 

It’s also important to know when to go to the ER for dehydration so that you can spot an emergency before it becomes dangerous. If your muscles begin to cramp, your urine is dark, you begin to experience heart palpitations, or you feel lightheaded, have someone drive you to the emergency room for help. 

5. Sun poisoning

There’s nothing like tailgating with loved ones on a warm and sunny day…until it gets hot and miserable. Tailgates for the most take place outside and can be a day-long affair. Especially here in the South, the sun can be brutal during football season, making sun safety all the more important. 

First, apply sunscreen throughout the day, approximately every two hours to avoid getting sunburnt. Next, hydrate as much as possible to keep your body temperature consistent and cool. Lastly, stay in the shade as much as possible or wear protective clothing, hats, and eyewear (in your team’s colors of course).

Sun poisoning symptoms share a lot in common with dehydration and food poisoning symptoms, but be on the lookout for hot, red, or blistering skin. This will tell you that the person may be suffering from sun poisoning. If this is the case, take that person out of the sun and somewhere cool as quickly as possible, give them water to drink, and grab cold compresses to cool their body down.

Football tailgate checklist: What to bring to the tailgate

These tips for tailgating can help you prepare for what could happen during a day of tailgating. We’ve created a football tailgate checklist to help you remember what to bring to the stadium to ensure a safe and fun day for you and your fan friends! This is not a full list of every item, more so the safety essentials. 

Safety items to bring 

  • First-aid kit
  • Refillable water bottles
  • Cold water bottles in a cooler
  • Ice chest and coolers 
  • Sunscreen (SPF 50)
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Protective clothing, eyewear, and footwear
  • Protective items for cooking (heat-resistant gloves, aprons, etc.)
  • Meat thermometer
  • Soap and hand sanitizer
  • Cleansing wipes for hands and surfaces

Complete Care is here to help you tailgate safely

We hope that these tailgating safety tips will score more points with you this football season as you cheer on your favorite team. However, anything can happen at a tailgate no matter how much you prepare ahead. No matter what injuries or incidents come to light, you can feel safer knowing that Complete Care’s 24/7 emergency rooms are here to help. 

Whether you burn yourself on the grill or take a bite of spoiled buffalo dip, our emergency medical staff can get you in, out, and back in time for the game. We have multiple ER locations in Texas (Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, East Texas, Lubbock, and San Antonio) and in Colorado Springs

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