Cooks, avoid turkey fryer dangers on Thanksgiving

November 20, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 20, 2012

Thanksgiving is all about the turkey, but the state fire marshal urged caution for holiday cooks preparing to fry a bird for the big feast.

State Fire Marshal Chuck Duffy said residents should remember fire safety during the Thanksgiving celebration. Duffy’s office offered information Monday from the Underwriters Laboratories regarding turkey fryers.

UL considers turkey fryers as dangerous to use, because the units present safety hazards to consumers.

“We’re worried by the increasing reports of fires related with turkey fryer use,” John Drengenberg, UL consumer affairs manager, said in a statement. “Based on our test findings, the fryers used to produce those great-tasting birds are not worth the risks. And, as a result of these tests, UL has decided not to certify any turkey fryers with our trusted UL Mark.”

Many turkey fryer units easily tip over, spilling hot oil from the cooking pot.

If the cooking pot is overfilled, oil may spill out when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may hit the burner or flames, causing a fire to engulf the entire unit.

Partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can cause a spillover effect and may result in a fire.

With no thermostat controls, the units have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion.

The lid and handles on the sides of the cooking pot get dangerously hot, posing burn hazards.

The fire marshal and UL recommended for cooks using turkey fryers to consider safety tips:

  • The fryers should only be used outdoors at a safe distance from buildings and any other flammable materials.
  • Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.
  • Make sure the fryer is used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil may continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot hours after use.
  • To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water do not mix, and water causes oil to spill over causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
  • National Turkey Federation recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator about 24 hours for every 5 pounds in weight.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If the fire is manageable, use your all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call the fire department for help.
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