Frying a turkey for Thanksgiving? It may result in a juicier turkey than traditional preparation methods, but firefighters say don't put your taste for turkey over safety and sensibility.
More than 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires are reported each year, causing an average of $21 million in property damage and fire deaths, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
Some of those fires start when a turkey fryer is misused or left unattended, firefighters said. Leaving cooking food unattended and falling asleep while cooking is a main cause of kitchen fires.
Over the years, turkey fryer manufacturers have improved the devices, but superheated oil and high temperatures still make them risky to operate, according to National Fire Protection Association.
Cooking anything above 375 degrees Fahrenheit increases the risk of igniting vapors from the oils used in cooking. Furthermore, hot oils can spill over into the flame, especially when taking the turkey in and out of the fryer, firefighters said.
Steam produced when a frozen, or partially frozen turkey is fried or when hot cooking oil mixes with snow or rain can burn you.
Fire officials prefer leaving the turkey frying to the professionals, but offer some reminders for people who still want to give it a go:
1. Make sure the bird is completely thawed. Twenty-four hours of thawing is recommended for each five pounds the bird weighs.
2. Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pots or lid handles. Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
3. Though extinguishing a turkey fryer fire is difficult and unlikely because of all the hot oil, it’s still a good idea to keep an all-purpose, dry powder fire extinguisher nearby.
4. Use the fryer on a completely flat outside surface, but not in a garage, wooden deck or porch.
5. Use caution when frying with marinades: oil and water don’t mix and doing so can cause a fire or explosion.
6. Keep children and pets away from the fryer while cooking and for several hours after.
7. Call 911 in case of a fire.