Dangers Associated with Turkey Frying

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Provided by Prince William Fire & Rescue

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The Thanksgiving Holiday is just around the corner, a time when family and friends come together to celebrate all it has to offer – including a home cooked meal. Cooking fires is the number one cause of home fires and injuries in the U.S. with Thanksgiving being the peak day for cooking fires. On Thanksgiving Day, more than any other day throughout the year, the average number of home fires more than double, resulting in injuries, deaths and millions of dollars in property damage.

One contributor of Thanksgiving fires is turkey frying. Over the years, turkey frying has become extremely popular during the holiday season. Retailers anxious to capture the market during this brief and prosperous holiday season, stock their aisles and shelves with turkey fryers. Although the industry has made great strides in the improvement of turkey fryers, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states they still are not safe to use due to the amount of oil and high temperatures used to cook a turkey. Even well-informed and careful consumers are at risk when using this product. The use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers is discouraged by the NFPA unless used by properly trained professionals such as grocery stores, specialty food retailers and restaurants, who use professional quality equipment. The dangers associated with turkey fryers are:

  • Hot oil can spill or splash over onto the flame igniting a fire. This can occur during the cooking process especially when placing the turkey in the fryer or when removing it.
  • Fryers designed for outdoor use with or without a stand are prone to collapse causing a major hot oil spill.
  • Cooking oil is combustible. If heated beyond its cooking temperature (375°), its vapors can ignite.
  • Steam can result from hot cooking oil exposed to snow or rain causing a splattering of the hot oil leading to burns.
  • The use of turkey fryers in close quarters poses a burn hazard/danger to children and others in the home. Oil inside a pot can stay dangerously hot for hours after use.
  • DO NOT use in, on or under a garage, deck, breezeway, porch, barn or any structure that can catch fire.
  •  Frozen or partially frozen turkeys, when cooked, will cause the hot oil to splatter or produce hot steam leading to burns.
  • Should a grease fire occur:
    • NEVER use water to extinguish it!
    • Get out and stay out! Once you’re safely out of the house, call 911. Does the taste outweigh the risk? Click here to view a video presentation on the dangers of turkey frying: youtube.com/watch?v=XvQ1HZGZrXI

Additional Safety Tips

Chief Kevin McGee of the Prince William County Department of Fire & Rescue (pwcgov.org/fire) would like to remind residents that the leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking. These fires are preventable by simply being more attentive when using cooking materials and equipment. Chief McGee urges the community to follow these simple safety tips to keep you and your family safe during the holidays and every day:

“Look When You Cook”

  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food.
    • Turn off the stove, if you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stove, e.g., oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains.
  • Should a grease fire occur:
    • NEVER use water to extinguish it!
    • Get out and stay out! Once you’re safely out of the house, call 911.

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