Football Season is in full-swing which means tailgating is as well. Tailgating is a time bond with other fans while grilling and enjoying a drink or two. This can present a few hazards that shouldn’t be ignored. Prior to heading out to the game, learn how to avoid food poisoning, protect yourself from sun scorching, avoiding dangerous driving and more. I hope you enjoy Cathy’s Tuesday Tip! ~ Cathy
Be Aware When Eating Meat
Because tailgating and grilling burgers, chicken and other meats go hand-in-hand, you should be especially careful to prevent cross-contamination. Wash utensils, cutting boards and other surfaces every time raw meat comes in contact with them. Wash your hands before and after touching raw meat, and dry them with paper towels (not dishtowels). Have lots of paper plates on hand, so you never make the mistake of placing grilled meat on a plate that held raw meat. Pack raw meat in individual containers and place them in an ice packed cooler until they are ready for the grill. It’s a good idea designate one cooler to store extra bags of ice, so you’ll always have enough on hand to keep raw meat cold. Keep drinks in a separate cooler.
When you have hungry guests who are chomping at the bit, it may possible to take food off the grill before it’s ready. Doing so can be very dangerous. Even though meat will continue to cook a bit after it’s removed, you should follow well established guidelines to be sure it’s fit to eat. You need an instant-read food thermometer. Ground meats should reach an internal temperature of at least 160°F, steaks at least 145°F, pork chops at least 160°F, and chicken should reach at least 180°F. If you don’t want to remember these temperatures, just arm yourself with that instant-read food thermometer.
First Aid Kits and Fire Extinguishers
Packing a first aid kit is always a good idea. You never know when a friendly game of catch or a sharp knife might lead to an injury. As for the fire extinguisher, even seasoned tailgaters need to be prepared. When grilling, make sure you have a fire extinguisher in close proximity and not packed away. If you don’t need it, another tailgater might. If you’re grilling with coals, be sure to douse them with water and let them cool before placing them in a container to discard or pack in your vehicle. And be sure the container is one designed to store coals, not a random box or bag you found in the trunk.
When in Doubt, Toss it Out
“When in doubt, toss it out” should be your tailgating mantra. We all hate throwing away food, but as you wrap up your tailgating extravaganza, it’s time to throw away perishable foods that have been left out for more than an hour in hot temperatures or more than two hours in moderates conditions.
Count on a Designated Driver
Tailgaters are notorious for having too much to drink. If your tailgating party includes alcohol, be sure to have one or more DDs. Offer to buy the DD non-alcoholic drinks during the game and maybe pitch in for a few snacks to say thanks for their duty. Always offer your tailgating companions non-alcoholic choices, including bottled water. Encourage drinking partygoers to have plenty to eat and drink a non-alcoholic beverage in between drinking alcoholic ones.
Party in Numbers
Tailgating and socializing are nearly synonymous, but avoid gallivanting through crowds of rowdy tailgaters alone. Because alcohol impairs decision making, it’s especially important to sick with a buddy if you have been consuming alcohol. If you do head off on your own, make sure your friends know where you’re going and when you plan to be back.
Sun Protection and Hydration
The sun might not be sizzling like it was during summer, but even under a cloud covered sky it’s easy to get scorched while tailgating. If you’re hosting a tailgating bash, have plenty of sunscreen on hand for your guests and don’t forget to protect yourself. Dehydration is another potential tailgating villain. Mild dehydration symptoms include headache, dizziness, sleepiness, strong smelling urine and thirst. Drink water to battle dehydration, not soda, juice or alcohol. Drinking water in small amounts throughout the day helps guard against dehydration. If you’re sweating over a grill, you’ll need to be particularly vigilant about consuming water.
You’ve put a lot of thought into game day; don’t ruin an otherwise festive day of tailgating by being unsafe. Follow our crash course in tailgating safety and you and your guests will enjoy a healthy and entertaining day of pre-game partying that won’t soon be forgotten.
I hope you enjoyed Cathy’s Tuesday Tip this week. To view more of Cathy’s Tuesday Tips, visit our blog.