How to Stay Safe While Tailgating in New England
After beating the Texans on Monday night 42-14, the Patriots stand as the top contender in the AFC East and second in the overall conference. This Sunday, Patriots fans will be watching as their favorite team faces the San Francisco 49ers for arguably the NFL’s top game of the season
Gillette Stadium has a capacity of more than 68,000 people, and it’s probably no secret that sports fans can get a little rowdy – especially when they’ve had too much to drink. The number of Patriots fans taken into custody for misconduct or intoxication has been relatively low this season, but certain situations can still push fans over the edge.
Just this past October, San Francisco’s Candlestick Park was the backdrop for ugly acts of fan violence after fans broke out into a parking lot brawl when the 49ers lost to New York 26-3. A month prior, Washington Redskins fans broke out into a brawl of the parking lot at FedEx Field.
Tailgating is a great way to show team spirit. Knowing how to stay safe while tailgating can ensure a good time and that no one gets hurt.
Don’t consume too much alcohol. According to Foxboro’s Police Chief Ed O’Leary, games that are held in colder weather typically result in fans drinking hard liquor rather than only beer. It comes as no surprise that higher alcohol content leads to quicker drunkenness and, subsequently, more extreme behavior. Drink responsibly and remember, less is more.
Don’t fight or taunt other fans. This should come as a no-brainer, but everybody is just out to have a good time. Don’t be vulgar or abusive towards others, and don’t make threatening remarks or gestures. “At the end of the day, we are all fans of the sport,” says the nonprofit group Fans Against Violence.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re safety is of concern or if you have a medical emergency, you can “flag down any one of the stadium security employees who are equipped with pagers that, with the push of a button, can signal for help.” Fans may also text an anonymous message to 508-928-3838 or text the word ‘CONDUCT’ to 78247 to automatically deploy a security team.
Prevent food poisoning. Invest in some well-insulated coolers and ice packs to keep your cold foods at their proper temperatures. Ideally, cold meats should be stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Store raw and cooked foods separately to prevent cross-contamination. That also goes for any utensils – don’t use the same fork to pick up something cooked as you did that raw steak. Pack your thermometer, too, to make sure meats have reached their ideal internal temperatures. Chicken should ideally be a minimum of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, while beef, lamb, pork and veal should rest at 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
Practice grill safety. Keep a watchful eye on your cooking methods. Make sure to check nozzles on propane grills to ensure there are no leaks or compromise to the tank. Watch for any grease overflow and never leave a deep fryer on high heat with the lid on, or it can overflow and even explode. Keep a fire extinguisher close by at all times.
Know where you can access first-aid. First-aid stations are located on both the east and west sides of midfield, as well as the main and upper concourses of Gillette Stadium.
Be prepared for New England weather. New England is known for its strong weather, especially during winter seasons. Be prepared for freezing temperatures, high winds and ample rain or heavy snowfall. Visit the bad weather survival guide for tailgating in New England.
Don’t drink and drive. Safety concerns don’t diminish once you leave the parking lot. Even if your last drink was several hours ago, you could still be feeling the effects. Designate a driver prior to heading to Gillette to make sure your ride home is just as safe as your game day was. You can register your driver with Gillette’s Designated Driver Program. Registered DD’s will receive “a complimentary non-alcoholic beverage and may also be eligible for entry in drawings for certain raffle prizes. The Designated Driver booths are located at the main entrance gates and at the 50-yard line customer service booths at the stadium.” If you don’t have a DD, consider using one of New England’s forms of public transportation.
Check out Tailgate Fan to keep the party going at tailgatefan.cbslocal.com.
Victoria Myers is a freelance writer covering all things Boston. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.