It’s finally football season! If you’re part of the 64% of Americans that watch football, you’re probably eager to start festivities, such as tailgating.

When planning your next event, don’t forget to think about these four safety tips to have an unforgettable tailgate.

1. Come Prepared

When it comes to tailgates, you never really know what to expect. Football fans are notorious for being excitable, so come prepared with the items you’ll need. Preparedness means plenty of food, extra ice and drinks, sure—but it also includes these items:

  • Cell phone charger (car charger) in the event your mobile phone’s battery runs low. 
  • Extra clothing for inclement weather. 
  • Fire extinguisher if you’re grilling.
  • First aid kit in case of small injuries.
  • Mobile phone with a security app for home.

You’ll be gone from home for a long time; many tailgaters start three to four hours before kickoff. To avoid running back home and missing any game time, bring the above supplies and any other items you need for your specific tailgate plans. Also, remember to lock up before you go, and make sure your house is prepared for the fall season.

2. Don’t Forget About Food Safety

Most people keep their menu pretty simple for a tailgate—hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, vegetable trays, etc.—so it should be easy to make sure you’re following food safety protocol. However, you have a lack of resources when you’re cooking in a parking lot, so it’s best to educate yourself beforehand. has some great suggestions specific to tailgating, such as:

  • Bring clean containers for leftovers. You should never put cooked meat in the same container that held raw meat.
  • Moist towelettes and hand sanitizer to use before and after eating. These are especially important if you’re preparing food at the game.
  • Plenty of ice. You’ll need more than you think. Keeping food cold is important for food safety.
  • Two coolers (at least). You need one for food and one for drinks. Wrap raw meats securely so that their juices don’t contaminate other food.
  • Two sets of plates and utensils. You need these specifically for meats—one for the raw items, and one for cooked food. also suggests bringing a meat thermometer. Even if you don’t usually use one at home, the conditions at the game will be different than those you’re used to. You must make sure your meat is cooked to at least the minimum temperature standards.

3. Be Aware of Your Situation

Keep yourself and your loved ones safe at a tailgate by assigning a designated driver. Most tailgates involve drinking, and you’d rather play it safe. Additionally, keep an eye on how much your tailgaters are drinking; intoxicated fans and huge crowds don’t always mingle well. Beyond awareness of these factors, be aware of the following:

  • Grill location. Try to keep the grill at least six feet away from vehicles, tents, or chairs. One big gust of wind is all it may take to create a fire. 
  • Other tailgaters. Consider hosting your tailgate next to like-minded tailgaters. For example, if you don’t like loud music, find a space where the neighboring parties are keeping it low.
  • Time. The reason most tailgaters start so early is because it takes significant time to set up, cook, let the grill cool, and pack up again. Plan your day accordingly.
  • Trash. Keep your trash contained and close to your own space. Avoid letting trash hinder other vehicles’ ability to maneuver through the lot.

4. Keep Your Home and Valuables Safe

There’s a certain camaraderie at tailgates when fans of the same team come together. Even so, it’s safest to lock up your belongings, because the parking lot can become unattended for a long time during the game.

Also, don’t forget your house will be unattended all day. Learn the clever methods thieves use to make sure you’re not at home before you leave. Additionally, follow these security tips:

  • Use a surveillance system to monitor the house while you’re gone.
  • Use home security that provides mobile solutions—you can make sure your home is locked up, and even watch home security footage right from your smart phone.
  • Utilize home energy management. There’s no need to precisely heat or cool the house if no one is there, and you can save money with an energy management solution. You’ll also be alerted if a lock or thermostat is changed.

How do you make your tailgate safe? Share in the comments below.