On football’s biggest day, spectate in good health

By Julie Jordan
Published January 28, 2019

Atlanta is hosting Super Bowl 53 this year, and Georgia expects to welcome around one million fans from across the nation. Whether you’re watching the game at home or traveling to Mercedes Benz Stadium on Sunday, there are some common health practices to remember to have a healthy, enjoyable time as the New England Patriots take on the Los Angeles Rams.

1. Prepare food safely.

Planning to fire up your grill and invite people over for the game? Make sure you follow basic food safety tips to avoid foodborne illness.

“Clean, separate, cook and chill,” said Georgia Department of Public Health Food Service Program Director Galen Baxter. “Foodborne illness can be caused by contaminated equipment, undercooked foods, foods from an unknown source, or foods held out of temperature for more than four hours. It can also be caused by a sick cook, unwashed hands, or hands with a cut or sore touching ready-to-eat food.”    

  • Clean — Wash hands and surfaces often.
  • Separate — Don't cross-contaminate.
  • Cook — Cook to the right temperature.
  • Chill — Refrigerate promptly.

If you’re planning to go out, be aware of restaurants’ food inspection scores.

2. Stay flu-free.

It’s still flu season, but in the frenzy of game-time excitement, it’s easy to forget. However, flu spreads more easily in large public gatherings like the Super Bowl. If you’re going to the game or planning to be around a large crowd, your chances of catching the flu go up.  

Remember flu protection basics:

  • Get your flu shot.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people and stay home if you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Or use antibacterial hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

For more information: https://dph.georgia.gov/dont-let-flu-wreck-your-resolutions

3. Practice and promote safe sex.

There is a reason the Super Bowl is considered one big party. Make sure your celebrating doesn’t include the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

  • Use latex condoms with a water-based lubricant every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex. Condoms will protect you from STD much of the time.
  • Use plastic (polyurethane) condoms if you’re allergic to latex.  These come in both male and female styles.
  • Talk to your partner about past sex partners and about needle drug use. Don’t have sex with someone who you think may have an STD.
  • Look closely at your partner for any signs of an STD, a rash, a sore or discharge.  If you see anything you’re worried about don’t have sex.

Remember that not having sex is the best way to protect yourself from STD. But having sex with only one, uninfected partner who only has sex with you is also safe.

Also, be aware of sex trafficking which commonly occurs around big sporting events: “Are you being forced to do anything you do not want to do,” or “have you been threatened if you try to leave?” Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

4. If you are drinking, do not drive.

Do you plan to drink during Super Bowl festivities? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises:  

  • Before drinking, choose a non-drinking friend as a designated driver.
  • Don’t let your friends drive impaired.
  • If you have been drinking, call a taxi, a ride sharing service, or a sober friend.
  • If you’re hosting a party where alcohol will be served, make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.
  • Always wear your seat belt—it’s your best defense against impaired drivers.

5. Drink plenty of water.

During big events, and during travel, it can be easy to forget to stay hydrated. Make sure you drink enough water. The American Heart Association advises that drinking plenty of water will help your heart more easily pump blood to your muscles making it easier for them to work well. On the contrary, without enough water, dehydration may cause swollen feet, headache or illness.

  • Pay attention to the color of your urine. The darker it is, the more water you need.
  • If you’re traveling, you may sweat differently in Georgia’s climate. Notice your perspiration, and drink water as necessary.
  • If you drink alcohol during the game, drinking water is even more important, as alcohol accelerates dehydration. Combat dehydration from alcohol by drinking plenty of water.

6. Keep dry and stay warm.

For those headed to the game, the current forecast for Atlanta on Sunday on Feb. 3, 2019 is:  

  • High of 66 degrees
  • Low of 52 degrees
  • 60 percent chance of rain

Give yourself plenty of time to get to the stadium, especially with rain forecasted. Visit the city’s Super Bowl webpage, SB53.Atlanta.gov, for details on getting around. Drive slowly and with caution in the rain and especially on Atlanta’s interstates. If possible, avoid driving altogether and use MARTA or a ride share service.   

Remember that germs travel more easily in humid and damp climates. Tighten up your cleanliness habits on Sunday, and be extra cautious about what you touch. Do not put your hands on your face where germs can get into your nose or mouth and make you sick.

Bring your rain jacket and wear enough clothing to stay warm. The stadium does not allow large umbrellas. A list of prohibited items may be found on their website in the A to Z Guide under “prohibited items.”

7. Avoid opioid-related dangers.

You may have seen the billboards around Atlanta saying, “It only takes a little to lose a lot.” Opioids are addictive and sometimes deadly. Take them as directed by your healthcare provider. In case of an opioid-related emergency surrounding game day activities, call 911. Georgia’s Medical Amnesty Law protects victims and callers seeking medical assistance during drug or alcohol overdose situations.