Fall marks the start of football season and tailgating parties. It's one of the fun aspects of college, but it can also be dangerous, especially when there are some fierce rivalries going on.
Tailgating can be scary — and I learned that the hard way.
What started out as a fun party wound up turning into a violent brawl after two people got into an altercation. Of course, there was drinking involved, and that's ultimately what escalated the matter. Before we knew it, everyone (except me) was getting in on the fight.
Drinking and sports can be a bad combination, which is why we now host sober tailgating parties.
Staying Safe During Tailgating Parties
Whether or not there's alcohol involved, it's important to understand how to stay safe when tailgating.
1. Keep tabs on your drinking
If you're 21 or older and plan on drinking during the party, keep tabs on how many drinks you have. Limit yourself to avoid going overboard. Try drinking an equal amount of water after each drink to slow down your pace and keep yourself hydrated.
If you need to drive home, avoid drinking entirely. It's not worth the risk of endangering yourself and others just for a drink.
Remember that you don't have to drink just to fit in with everyone else. Tailgating can still be fun without alcohol and you don't have to deal with a hangover the next morning.
2. Arrange for sober rides home
If you're adamant on drinking, make sure that you have a sober ride home. Never get behind the wheel if you've been drinking. And don't let your friends get behind the wheel either.
If you're the one hosting the party, make sure that you have safe options for your guests to arrive home.
3. Keep spirits light
Try to keep the party light and fun. If arguments are getting heated – whether over sports or something else – try to diffuse the situation before it escalates.
Keep the number of people to a minimum, and make sure there's adequate separation of supporters of each team. Altercations involving two or more people can easily escalate into brawls with dozens of people. That's when things can get ugly and dangerous.
Make sure that you have an escape route in mind, so if things do get out of hand, you can get out without becoming a victim in the process.
4. Don't forget about cooking safety
What would a tailgate party be without food? If you're grilling food, make sure that you bring a fire extinguisher and everything you need to cook food safely.
If you're bringing raw or uncooked meat, make sure that you pack it in a cooler with plenty of ice to prevent food poisoning. A friend of mine didn't follow this rule and he paid the price for it.
Being sick for two days with food poisoning is no walk in the park, especially if you have a class early the next morning.
5. Clean up before driving home
When the party's over, don't just hop in your car and drive away. Clean up. Make sure that you can see properly. Get rid of the cans, bottles and plates before you head back home.