It’s the time of year we all look forward to in Alabama – tailgating season! For those of us who are old pros at these pre-game parties, we know that one unwelcomed guest is often the heat. Summer isn’t over yet, and there’s plenty of warm weather left to take us through the beginning of football season.
The problem with the Southern heat is that it can be brutal. If you’re not used to it, or if you overindulge in a few too many party libations, the heat can create a situation that is downright dangerous. Every year, there are at least a few stories of someone suffering from heat exhaustion or stroke at sporting events. What can you do to keep yourself cool and healthy while still having a good time?
The #1 thing you can do to protect yourself is to stay hydrated. That means drinking water or sports beverages that help to restore electrolytes, not alcohol. We aren’t saying that you can’t indulge a little, but remember that alcohol encourages dehydration. Put the adult beverages down occasionally and pick up a water bottle to keep yourself in good shape for game time.
Wear the Right Clothes
Now is not the time for heavy jeans or black t-shirts. Instead, wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes that breathe. Usually, the advice is to wear natural fibers, but there are all sorts of technical fabrics out there now that can help you stay cool while you’re active. Preparing with the right clothing will help you stay comfortable for hours.
Create Some Shade
When you are creating your tailgating setup, remember to incorporate some shade. Some people like to bring along pop-up event tents or umbrellas, which are a great portable option. Anything you can rig up that provides an escape from the sun will serve you well. And remember to wear sunscreen! It won’t keep you cool, but it will help you avoid a whole lot of pain the following day.
When it’s extremely hot outside, it’s no time for being active. On those game days that are scorchers, take a seat and just relax with your friends. It might be fun to play games and wander around, but sometimes you just need to conserve your energy for safety’s sake.
Freeze That Water
A trick that a lot of us are familiar with is freezing your water bottles the night before you plan on heading to the stadium. This serves the dual purpose of making sure you have ice cold water throughout the day while also keeping the items in your cooler extra cold. Plus, there is nothing better than opening a half-frozen water bottle and taking a big drink when it’s in the triple digits outside.
Soak Your Hat
If you opt to wear a hat, go ahead and soak it down in some cooler meltwater. It will help to keep your body temperature down and you will get a cooling effect as the water begins to evaporate.
Stick to Cold Foods
Sure, we all like food from the grill during tailgating season, but sticking to cooler treats will help you maintain a comfortable temperature when it’s hot outside. Things like chilled fruits (not soaked in alcohol) and veggies are great because they also provide a second source of hydration.
Consider a Portable Fan
There are so many options out there for portable fans and mister units that can be recharged or operate on batteries. Consider bringing something like this with you to your next tailgating event. Even investing in a small fan that attaches to your phone can make a big difference, especially on those days where there is no breeze.
Know the Warning Signs of Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke
Even if you are playing it safe, sometimes the heat can be a little too much to endure. Be very careful of both heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If you think someone is suffering from heat exhaustion, the best thing to do is to get them out of the hot weather and into an air-conditioned environment ASAP, as it can quickly develop into heat stroke.
Heat Exhaustion Symptoms:
- Pale Skin
- Profuse Sweating
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Muscle Cramps
- Nausea, Vomiting, or Diarrhea
Heat Stroke Symptoms:
- High Body Temperature
- Dry, Flushed Skin
- Rapid Breathing & Heartbeat
- Change in Mental State or Behavior
- Nausea or Vomiting
The Bottom Line: Following a few simple tips can help you beat the heat and still have a great time tailgating. Watch out for heat exhaustion and heat stroke symptoms, however, and don’t be afraid to call for medical help – heat stroke can be fatal.