Forget Troy Polamalu; when it comes to Pittsburgh tailgating, there’s a different kind safety that Steelers fans need to be concerned about. Aside from the black and gold losing to their biggest rivals, there’s nothing that can put a damper on your tailgating party like food poisoning or getting a DUI. To be certain that your next tailgate is an enjoyable time, follow these tips and guidelines designed to keep you safe while tailgating in Pittsburgh.

Prevent Food Poisoning

From Pittsburgh’s Polish sausage and authentic pierogies to the traditional tailgate grilled grub, eating is practically as much a sport as football for many tailgaters.

Invest in some well-insultated coolers and ice packs to keep your cold foods, like veggie trays, for instance, at the proper temperature during transportation to the stadium. Ideally, cold treats should be stored at below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Foods meant to be served hot, on the other hand, should be kept at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to avoid the possibility of food poisoning. Storing these foods separately using lids or wraps will also prevent cross-contamination and keep you healthy by preventing leaking or dripping of meat, fish or poultry. Pack your food thermometer to ensure that any grilled meats have reached their ideal internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit for tenderloin steaks and pork chops and 180 degrees Fahrenheit for chicken.

Even if you consider yourself king of the grill, be sure to keep a fire extinguisher nearby. You never know if your contained fire will turn into an outrageous bonfire quickly. For those using a charcoal grill, be sure to allow plenty of time for your coals to cool properly before you throw them away or load the grill into your car.
Don’t Drink and Drive

In a city that markets itself as a drinking town with a football problem, alcohol is as much a tailgate staple as hot wings and hamburgers. Combine your favorite booze with the exhilarating atmosphere of a tailgate, however, and this Pittsburgh party pastime can be a dangerous combination. If hosting a dry tailgate isn’t an option, you can help keep your tailgating crew safe by taking a few precautions.

First, designate a driver prior to heading to Heinz Field so that there’s no confusion over who is and is not drinking. If you don’t have anyone willing to step up to the plate, consider using one of Pittsburgh’s forms of game-day public transportation, like a taxi or bus, the Gateway Clipper or the free “T” to get you to and from the game safely (Best Local Transportation To Get To Heinz Field).

Keep an eye on the amount of alcohol your partygoers are drinking. Encourage those who may be a bit too tipsy to take it easy and cut them off altogether if their drinking starts to get out of control. If playing the role of beer police doesn’t sound like fun, bring a limited amount of cases or liquor with you and let your crew drink until it’s all gone. Once the party runs dry, that’s it for the tailgate drinking.
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Jessica Wasik lives in Pittsburgh and is a graduate of Robert Morris University with a degree in English Studies. Jessica is also a contributing writer for Allegheny West Magazine. Her work can be found at