Turkey fryer, Thanksgiving safety tips

  • Published
  • By Edwards AFB Fire Prevention Office
Each year during the holidays we look forward to that perfectly cooked turkey waiting on the dinner table like so many magazines and television commercials portray.

Unfortunately, since most of us do not have the cooking talents of Martha Stewart or Emeril, that dream is not always a reality.

That's why so many people are turning to deep frying their turkeys. With a turkey fryer, what used to take several hours with no guarantees now takes only 45 minutes with the assurance of a plump, moist bird every time. Fryer users say the flavor is outstanding with only a third of the normal cooking time. 

But the big question is: Are we willing to trade our safety for time and taste?

Every year, deep fat fryers are responsible for around 1,000 fires, resulting in 5 deaths and 60 injuries. As this trend increases, the statistics are likely to become worse - possibly leading to more loss of life. Because of the risks attributed to turkey fryers, Underwriters Laboratories will not certify any fryer with their trusted UL mark and other safety organizations warn against their use.

The primary reasons for the fires and injuries have been attributed to the following causes:

· Improper use by untrained persons 
· Improperly designed homemade fryers 
· Fryer placed too close to combustibles 
· Fryers used inside houses or garages 
· Overfilling the fryer with oil 
· Placing frozen/wet turkeys into the fryer 
· Plunging the turkey too quickly into the fryer 
· Leaving the fryer unattended

If you still feel that you want to deep-fry your turkey this holiday season, the following safety tips should be strictly adhered to:

· Purchase a factory-built unit, do not use homemade fryers. 
· Make sure you use the fryer outside in a well-ventilated area
· Make sure the fryer is a safe distance from buildings and combustible materials 
· Do not use the fryer on a deck, in the garage, or other combustible surface 
· Ensure that the unit is on a flat, dry surface 
· Never leave the fryer unattended 
· Keep all pets and children away from the fryer before, during, and after use
· Do not overfill the fryer with oil
· Use leather gloves or pot holders when touching the unit or lid
· Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry before placing it into hot oil
· Place the turkey in the oil slowly; this may take up to a minute depending on size 
· Keep a multipurpose (ABC) fire extinguisher nearby in case of fire 
· Never use water to extinguish a turkey fryer fire; oil and water do not mix
· Even after use, do not allow children or pets near the fryer; it can remain hot for several hours 
· If a fire occurs, clear the area and call 911

If not using a fryer, click here for additional Thanksgiving cooking tips in the kitchen.

The Edwards AFB Fire Department wants everyone to have a safe holiday season. By adhering to the safety tips above or better, by avoiding turkey fryers altogether, we can ensure this goal is achieved.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this article or any other safety tips, feel free to contact us at (661) 277-3643.