Safety officials urge fans to tailgate responsibly

September 23, 2008

University Park, Pa. -- Tailgating is one of the great traditions surrounding Penn State football games, and with the Big Ten season approaching, excited fans will no doubt be in a celebratory mood before and after games at Beaver Stadium. However, tailgaters should also remember to exercise responsibility and good sense to ensure a good time does not give way to serious problems.

"Tailgating is a great opportunity for our fans to have fun," said Steve Shelow, director of University Police. "But sometimes irresponsible behavior can lead to medical or legal troubles. We want fans to remember they can have fun and be responsible at the same time."

Alcohol often plays a major role when problems occur at tailgates, and fans should treat their parking lot gatherings like they would any other party. Alcohol should only be served to people 21 or older, and a sober host should be designated to ensure that the tailgate stays under control and to drive people home if necessary.

"Under any circumstances, you should never let an intoxicated guest drive," Shelow said. "Make sure that people at the tailgate know who the sober hosts are so that other guests can go to them for help."

Shelow also warned of signs of serious trouble for some who overindulge. Alcohol poisoning is a risk and hosts should be aware of signs indicating a person needs medical attention. (See below for signs of alcohol poisoning.)

Tailgate hosts should know their guests and provide food and non-alcoholic beverages, and they should know who is at their gathering.

"The most trouble quite often is started by people you don't even know," said Rebecca Berdine, University Police officer.

Tailgaters should also be aware of the size and noise level of their gatherings. Disturbances will not only make for an unpleasant experience for fellow fans, but also draw the attention of police.

Responsible tailgaters also will clean up after themselves. Bags for trash and recycling are provided throughout the grounds around the stadium and bagged trash can be taken away or left to be picked up.

Numerous portable toilets also can be found throughout the parking lots, and fans should remember that public urination will result in a citation from police.

"Most importantly, tailgaters should have fun while obeying all laws to ensure that they and their fellow fans can enjoy the game, and the rest of the season," Shelow said. "If anyone finds themselves in need of help, they can call 911 or visit either the police command post or emergency first aid station on the east side of the stadium. Many officers also are on patrol throughout the stadium grounds, and they are there to help."

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

Too much alcohol could kill a person, Berdine said. Partiers should look for any of the following signs of alcohol poisoning:
•    The person is unconscious or semi-conscious and cannot wake up.
•    Cold, clammy, pale and/or bluish skin
•    Slow breathing — less than eight times per minute
•    Irregular breathing — 10 seconds or more between breaths
•    Vomiting while sleeping or passed out and not waking up
If any of these occur call 911 immediately, clear the person's airway, turn the person on his or her side to prevent choking and yell for help. Never leave the person alone.

  • Large tailgate parties can be a source of trouble and will draw police attention. University Police recommend tailgaters exercise responsibility and obey laws while having fun.

    IMAGE: Annemarie Mountz

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010