While mascots provide sideline entertainment in the form of dancing with cheerleaders and fans, races with other mascots and other fan interactions, safety precautions must be taken to avoid potential injury to the person inside the suit. Extreme heat and limited vision and hearing are just some of the safety issues mascots and their handlers must take into consideration when preparing the costume for wear.
Mascot costumes need to be designed with safety features in mind. Costumes can weigh between 6.8 and 13.6kg., and up to 22.7kg. when wet. Use costumes with breathable material that is flame-retardant and easily removable in case of emergency. Also note whether there is any part of the costume that can hurt the mascot if he falls down. Such issues should be remedied or explained in detail to the mascot to avoid injury.
Often a mascot's costume hinders her ability to see. For example, a costume with a large head can make it difficult to see what is around and even in front of you. Large costume heads can also make it difficult to hear. Mascot escorts, or handlers, are therefore required to become the mascot's eyes and ears. Escorts help the mascot avoid habits such as vehicular traffic and emotional fans. Hand signals are also helpful and are a way for the mascot to signal the escort that she needs a break or other help.
Mascots need to practice in their costumes before game day to get used to wearing the costume as well as moving around in it. Practice also helps avoid potential injury. Try practicing in the head, feet and hands, if applicable, first before wearing the entire costume. Practice any dance routines before wearing the costume, and add a costume piece as you continue to learn the routine. Wearing the suit before game day or events is also necessary in case the costume needs adjustments.
Staying Cool and Additional Tips
Mascot costumes are often made of thick material that can cause excess sweating and the potential for overheating, which can result in heat stroke. If the costume is not properly ventilated, consider frequent breaks to avoid overheating. Wearing cooling vests or costumes containing fans are also options. As costumes are often worn for hours and in extreme temperatures, the costume should be cleaned frequently to prevent viruses and bacteria from making their homes in the costume.