Some of us anticipate savoring the dishes we’ve come to associate with a traditionally prepared Thanksgiving meal, however many prefer to embrace the growing trend of deep fried turkey. While the preparation of Grandma’s oven roasted turkey with sage dressing comes with some peril, its replacement with a deep fried bird can be significantly more dangerous. The US Fire Administration reports that cooking is the leading cause of the nearly 4300 fires that occur on Thanksgiving each year (www.usfa.fema.gov) causing 15 fatalities, about 50 injuries and nearly $27 million in property damage. Many of these incidents are related to deep frying accidents (www.insweb.com). Further the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov) says that many turkey fryer accidents occur while the oil is being heated, prior to adding the turkey, and from the splashing of hot oil.
The USFA and the CPSC recommend that you adhere to the following when deep frying a turkey:
- Use turkey fryers outdoors only and at a safe distance from buildings and flammable materials.
- Never use a turkey fryer in a garage or on a wooden deck.
- Fryers should be used on a flat surface to reduce the chance of accidental tipping.
- Never leave a fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls; if not watched carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
- Never let children or pets near the fryer, even if it is not in use as the oil inside can remain dangerously hot hours after use.
- To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
- Center the pot over the burner on the cooker.
- Raise and lower food slowly to reduce splatter and avoid burns.
- Cover bare skin when adding or removing food.
10. Check the oil temperature frequently.
11. If the oil begins to smoke, immediately turn off the gas supply.
12. Use well-insulated potholders and wear safety goggles to protect from burns and splattering oil.
13. Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinade. Oil and water do not mix, and water causes oil to spill over causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
14. The National Turkey Federation recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds in weight.
15. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If a fire occurs, immediately call 911.
We hope you find this information useful and that you enjoy a safe and Happy thanksgiving holiday. Please share it with your neighbors, friends and colleagues. As always, my agency is available as a resource so please let us know if we can be of assistance.