From the looks of it, baseball is still a favorite American pastime. League stats show that more than 74 million fans came out to a Major League Baseball game last year.
If you’re among the millions looking to do the same this season, you’ll want to make sure game day lives up to expectations. Here are some safety tips to remember before you head out to cheer on your favorite team.
Check the weather and seats. If you’re going to an outdoor stadium – or one with a retractable roof – check the weather forecast, and then cross-check that information with the stadium seating chart. Baseball stadiums are notorious for having “microclimates,” which means that the way you’ll experience the elements will vary dramatically depending on where you’re sitting – from the exposed sunny bleachers to the breezy, covered upper-level seats.
Dress for the elements. You’ll need loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing to keep cool if the game is accompanied by high heat, advises the Mayo Clinic. Excess, tight or dark-colored clothes can prevent your body from cooling properly, the healthcare organization says. Likewise, the expectation of rain, wind or cooler temps requires that you to bring along the right gear: Small umbrellas, light sweatshirts and rain ponchos pack easily. Layers can also be helpful, allowing you to adjust as the conditions change.
Do the sun right. For some fans, a ball game is all about time spent in the sun. But it’s important not to overdo a good thing. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends using a broad spectrum sunscreen (offering UVA and UVB protection) with an SPF of at least 30, making sure to reapply every couple of hours. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also advises wearing a wide-brim hat (where the brim wraps full circle) because it not only shades your head, but your face, ears and neck, too.
Stay hydrated. There’ll certainly be other liquid temptations at the stadium, but your best choice for hydration is good old-fashioned water, says the National Safety Council. Sports drinks are also a good bet, but alcohol and caffeine are out, the Council says, because they force your body to get rid of water and can actually contribute to dehydration or heat exhaustion.
Keep your head up. Regardless of where you’re sitting, there’s always some risk of an unexpected flying object at a game. Foul balls can come seemingly out of nowhere, as can pieces of a broken bat. Further commotion can come from overzealous fans vying for homers. The advice here is simple: Keep your attention on the activity on the field. And think before you ever lean on a wall or railing to go after a flying ball – not only can it compromise your safety, but it can quickly earn you the ire of other fans for interfering with their beloved game.