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Deep-fried turkeys have become increasingly popular for the annual Thanksgiving feast. And while these crispy birds are delicious—and even considered to be less labor-intensive than traditional cooking methods—they can also pose a serious danger to you and your home.
From splatters to minor burns to spills and major disasters, turkey fryers can be extremely unsafe. Forget about worrying whether or not the turkey is cooked properly; you could find your whole home cooked for good.
These are just some of the dangers of deep-frying a turkey:
- Fryers can easily tip, spilling hot cooking oil.
- Overfilled or a partially frozen turkey will cause overflow when the turkey is inserted.
- A small amount of cooking oil coming into contact with the burner can cause a large fire.
- Most fryers don’t have thermostat controls. The oil can continue to heat to the point of combustion.
- The sides of the pot, lid and handles can get extremely hot and create a burn hazard.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, turkey deep fryer fires cause more than $15 million in property damage every year, plus injuries due to fire or splash burns. The National Fire Protection Association and the Consumer Product Safety Commission offer the following safety essentials if you plan to deep-fry your Thanksgiving turkey.
- Deep fryers should only be used outdoors.
- Your turkey should be completely (we mean COMPLETELY) thawed before inserting it into the hot oil. Partially frozen turkeys can explode when they make contact with the oil. They can also cause splattering and spillage.
- Don’t drink and fry! Alcohol can impair your judgment and slow your movements. You need all of your faculties up and running if you plan to man the fryer.
- Do not place the deep fryer anywhere near your house, deck, garage, shed or any other structures.
- Wear shoes, pants and a long-sleeved shirt while frying.
- Have a fire extinguisher nearby. Do NOT attempt to put out a fire with water (oil and water don’t mix and water will make the fire worse).
- Carefully measure the amount of oil that you place in the fryer. Too much oil will overflow when the bird is inserted into the unit. Follow these steps:
1. Place the turkey in fryer
2. Fill the unit with water until the turkey is covered by about 1/2 inch of water
3. Remove the turkey and dry it completely
4. Mark the water level, then dump the water
5. Dry the fryer thoroughly
6. Fill the unit with oil to the marked level or just below
- Heat the oil to between 325 and 375 degrees. Lower the bird and cook it for three to four minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees
- Keep children and animals away from the fryer.
- Turn the fryer off immediately if any smoke appears. Fires can start quickly.
- NEVER leave the fryer unattended for any length of time.
- Be sure that the fryer pot is centered carefully over the burner on the cooking unit.
- Check the oil temperature frequently.
- If a fire occurs, call 911.
- Make sure the fryer is on flat ground to reduce the chance for tipping.
- Keep people away from the fryer even after the turkey is done. The oil will remain hot for hours.
- Use well insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching the pot or lid handles. Consider using safety goggles to avoid getting splatter in your eyes.
- If you are not prepared to follow these safety precautions, do not attempt to deep-fry your turkey. Even the slightest mishap could turn into a major fire or cause serious injuries. Plan your turkey-frying endeavor carefully, avoid distractions and keep a close eye on the bird at all times. A crispy, delicious bird may be wonderful, but crispy hand or a house fire is not.
Have you ever deep-fried a turkey? Did you have any mishaps? Did you follow all of the safety precautions?