Football season is officially upon us! That means it's time to break out your team's jersey, prepare your favorite snacks and enjoy the games. For many of us, football season also means tailgating and spending time with friends. Whether you're at the stadium or in a friend's driveway, it's important to take the proper precautions to ensure your tailgate goes smoothly. Here are five tips to consider when planning your next tailgating extravaganza.
1) Grill your food properly. Just as you would for any occasion, it's important to remember the proper way to prepare your raw meats before serving them. When traveling for an event, keep all perishables in a cooler with ice and monitor them throughout your travels to ensure they are staying cool. Even in a cooler, meats and vegetables can get warm if left in the sun for too long, so it's best to cook earlier in the outing if you're going to be outside for an extended period of time.
When grilling, make sure your meats reach the minimum required temperature before serving. Chicken should have an internal temperature of at least 165°F, ground beef at least 160°F, and steaks, chops and fish at least 145°F.
While it may be tempting to try and save leftovers following a tailgating session, any perishable food that has been left in the heat for over an hour should be tossed out if not consumed.
2) Be prepared for a grilling emergency. Keep a fire extinguisher and first aid kit on hand when using a grill. Keeping a small, portable fire extinguisher in your trunk is a good idea for all occasions, but becomes extra necessary in a grilling scenario. If grilling with coals, be sure to use water to dose the coals prior to leaving the site and check that all embers are completely extinguished.
A small first aid kit could come in handy should there be any cuts, burns or twisted ankles (touch football in the parking lot can get extreme!)
3) Sunscreen and water are your friends. Although you're not at the beach or a park, tailgating often involves long periods of time out in direct sunlight. Be sure to apply sunscreen every few hours to avoid burns and make sure to stay well hydrated. While it may be tempting to only fuel yourself with burgers and beer, make sure to mix in a water.
4) Navigate the parking lot safely. See and be seen at all times. While driving through the lot looking for a spot, go slowly and keep your eyes peeled for pedestrians, errant footballs and other miscellaneous objects. Similarly, when you're walking around or playing games, be mindful of traffic in your area. There are a lot of moving pieces in a packed parking lot so slow and steady is always the best method.
5) Always have a designated driver. It goes without saying that many of us enjoy having a drink or two (or three or four) while tailgating or enjoying the game, but it's crucial to establish ahead of time who in your party will be the designated driver and ensure they are taking that role seriously. Tailgating is a fun and exciting part of football season but celebrating responsibly is the most important thing to keep in mind.
Now get out there and grill up some burgers, enjoy friendship and the crisp fall air and cheer on your favorite team! It's the most wonderful time of the year.