Frying the turkey this year? Be careful

For many Massachusetts families, deep frying a turkey is as much a Thanksgiving tradition as apple pie. Others might be trying out the cooking technique for the first time tomorrow. While a deep-fried turkey is a delicious alternative to the traditional roasted bird, preparing the main course by dunking it in a vat of hot oil is dangerous.

When cooks are not careful, or when a deep fryer is defective, deep frying a turkey can cause fires and serious injuries. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, about 4,300 fires occur every year on Thanksgiving, and many of these are caused by deep fryers.

Fortunately, most deep fryer fires are completely preventable. In order to avoid starting a dangerous grease fire, it is necessary to do the following:

  1. Ensure that the bird is thawed completely before placing it in the fryer. Water and oil do not mix.
  2. Do not fry the turkey on a porch or deck, or inside the home or garage. Fry the turkey outdoors and away from anything flammable, such as trees and fences. 
  3. Do not leave the appliance unattended while in use.

In addition to the three tenets of turkey frying, it is of course important to read the owner’s manual before using a deep fryer. This can inform the cook about the proper amount of oil – using too much oil will cause an oil spillage and possibly a fire.

Finally, be sure to keep kids and pets away from the fryer. A fire extinguisher should be kept nearby, and remember that water should not be used to put out oil fires.

In the event that a mishap does occur, homeowners’ insurance policies often cover the damages caused by fires, and in some cases a products liability claim against the maker of a deep fryer may be warranted. It is best, however, to take safety measures to prevent fires and burn injuries in the first place. 

Source: Insurance Journal, “Penn. Regulators Offer Tips to Avoid Turkey Frying Homeowners Catastrophe,” Nov. 26, 2013