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Tailgate like the pros: Sustainable and safe tailgating tips

From: The Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

Tailgating before home football games is a large part of Virginia Tech football tradition. Practicing sustainable and safe tailgating is essential to the Hokie football experience. 

The typical tailgating setup includes generators, grills, portable fire pits, extension cords, TVs, satellite dishes, and more. In close proximity to fuels, combustibles, and people, these devices can present serious hazards. 

Excessive waste is also created during Virginia Tech’s football festivities, so recycling is strongly encouraged. The Game Day Green Team volunteers educate tailgaters about Virginia Tech’s waste reduction efforts and help them correctly recycle their bottles and cans. These efforts all support Virginia Tech’s 2020 Climate Action Commitment to be a zero waste campus by 2030. 

Refer to the following Virginia Tech Environmental Health and Safety tips before your next tailgate.

Grilling Tips:

  • Open flame fires, including fire pits, are prohibited. Propane and charcoal grills are permitted when used solely for food preparation. 

  • Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.

  • Grills are not allowed within 50 feet of campus buildings, parking decks, or other designated no-grill areas. Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from the grill area.

  • Place a fire extinguisher in the tailgating area at least 5 feet away from the grill. Make sure the extinguisher is a multipurpose extinguisher that can fight fires caused by ordinary combustible, flammable liquids, or electrical equipment. Fire extinguishers have numerical ratings. An ABC extinguisher is a good choice. 

  • All fires and hot coals must be contained within grills or other containers designed specifically for that purpose and should never be left unattended. 

  • If using a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. 

  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources. 

  • Charcoal fires need to be extinguished thoroughly with water before leaving them unattended. Tailgaters must place their charcoal in designated containers rather than dumping it on the ground or in dumpsters. A limited number of hot charcoal containers are located in tailgate areas and are designed to accommodate hot or cold briquettes. If a container is not available in the area where you picnic, remove charcoal for safe disposal.

  • Do not light a gas grill with the lid closed, as it can result in an explosion.

  • Be aware of changing weather conditions. Wind can carry embers and debris which can lead to fires spreading. 


Generator Tips:

  • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions and the associated hazards before operating a generator. 

  • Generators should be used in well ventilated locations outside at least 5 feet away from all doors, windows, and vent openings. Measure the 5 foot distance from the generator exhaust system to the canopy/tent or camper. 

  • Generators are not allowed within 50 feet of campus buildings and other designed no-grill areas, including parking decks.

  • Never operate a generator near combustible material.

  • Place generators so that exhaust fumes can not enter the camper or canopy/tent through any openings in the enclosure. The exhaust must be directed away from any indoor living area. 

  • All generators and fuel should be kept at a safe distance from cooking appliances. 

  • Turn off generators and let them cool down before refueling. Never refuel a generator while it is hot. 

  • Never operate in wet conditions. Protect generators and electrical cords from exposure to rain and puddles.

  • If using extension cords, be sure they are UL listed, have a grounding pin, and are rated for the application. Check all extension cords for damage before using and do not use if the cord is damaged. 

  • Be mindful of where the extension cords run to avoid tripping hazards. 

Up close shot of a maroon bin reading "VT Recycles"

Recycling/Green Tips:

  • Green recycling flags are posted in the Coliseum, Stadium, Track/Field House, and Chicken Hill parking lots to guide individuals to common recycling areas. 

  • Game Day Green Team volunteers will also be available to point tailgaters in the right direction to find their nearest recycling bin. 

  • Plastic bottles, glass bottles, and aluminum cans can all be recycled. 

  • Recyclable items should be placed in the recycling bins near the end of each row of vehicles.

  • Paper plates, napkins, Styrofoam, plastic bags, and food waste are not recyclable. 

  • Bring reusable cups, plates, and cutlery to your tailgate to cut down on waste.

  • Be aware of storm drains and keep them free of any liquid, food, or waste. 

  • Use alternative transportation to get to the game. Carpooling, walking, biking, and riding the bus are all great options. 

  • Use propane to grill.

  • Buy items in bulk rather than individually wrapped  to reduce packaging waste.


In addition, tailgaters should always have a first aid kit handy.  

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