Top 10 tailgating tips

Are you ready for some football? With college and professional seasons getting underway, many will be packing up the truck and heading for the stadium parking lot. Beyond wearing your team colors and preparing your favorite foods ahead of time, there are several tips to make your time on the tailgate more enjoyable and safe.

1. Organize cooking utensils. Use a tool box with drawers to transport and organize spatulas, bottle openers, tongs, skewers and the like. Other drawers can store condiments, spices, plastic zip baggies, toothpicks, and other useful supplies.

2. Freeze water bottles. They will help keep your perishables fresh and you can drink the water when they melt.

3. Maintain food safety. Tailgate staples like potato and macaroni salads, chicken, and steak can spoil quickly. Keep refrigerated items cool with ice and insulate cooked foods.

4. Put soup in a large thermos. It keeps it hot, makes dispensing easy, eliminates spills, and takes up minimal space.

5. Dispose of hot coals properly. Be sure charcoal is cooled prior to disposing or putting back in your vehicle. Bring a metal pail with a lid to store remaining coals. Many stadiums have designated receptacles for disposing of hot coals.

6. Bring a fire extinguisher. Even the most seasoned of grill-masters needs to be prepared.

7. Check grills for safety. Propane and charcoal grills should be inspected prior to leaving for the game. Make sure all hoses, gauges, and vents are working properly.

8. Bring a large empty plastic tote. Line it with a garbage bag and use it as a trash bin. Remove the full bag, and then use the tote to quickly and efficiently pack up supplies.

9. Bring a large helium balloon. Float it on a long string from your vehicle as a familiar marker so friends know how to find you.

10. Drink responsibly. This is the most important of all tips. Keep you and your family safe, and ensure that you treat others with kindness and respect.

No matter which team you’re rooting for, stay safe and have fun as you cheer them on to victory. You’ll find that this pre-game ritual can be just as much fun as watching the game, especially if your team is on the losing side.