With each Thanksgiving that passes, outdoor, gas-fueled turkey fryers become more and more popular. Although these fryers may cook turkeys in just a fraction of the time it takes to roast them in the oven, they also pose enormous risks of injury.
Murfreesboro Fire & Rescue Department is joining the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the State Fire Marshal’s Office in discouraging the residential use of these outdoor, gas-fueled turkey fryers.
“Outdoor fryers heat gallons of cooking oil to very high temperatures to cook the turkey. The risk of this oil being spilled is significant, and the resulting injuries can be severe,” State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak says.
Turkey fryer hazards:
• The fryers are often bumped or tipped over when the turkey is put in or taken out, presenting a greater risk for the oil to splash or spill. Outdoor fryers that come with a stand pose the greatest risk of tipping.
• The oil is heated to such a high temperature for frying that the vapors could ignite, resulting in a fire.
• If you use a turkey fryer during rain or snow, the risk of injury is increased. When rain or snow hits the hot oil, the oil can splash or turn to steam, which can cause burns.
• Numerous fires have ignited when fryers have been brought indoors or into a garage to keep the appliances out of the rain.
• Moving the turkey from the fryer to a serving plate presents another chance of contact with hot oil.
• Turkeys that are not completely thawed may cause the oil to splash, which can cause burns.
• Children have been severely burned when running into turkey fryers while playing nearby.
It is recommended that consumers utilize the oil-free models that are available or seek commercial professionals to prepare this entrée. Fried turkeys can be ordered from some supermarkets and restaurants during the holiday season.
If frying your own turkey is an absolute must, the following safety measures should be carefully followed:
• Turkey fryers must always be used outdoors and a safe distance from buildings and other flammable materials.
• Never use turkey fryers indoors or on a wooden deck.
• Make sure the fryer is used on a flat surface to prevent accidental tipping.
• Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will 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 prevent 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.
• The National Turkey Foundation recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds of weight.
• Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease or oil fire. If the fire is manageable, use your all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call the fire department by dialing 911.
Caution should always be used when using any kind of deep fryer. Since 2008, 76 fires have been reported in Tennessee as a result of deep frying. These fires injured three civilians and three firefighters and damaged $1,993,887 of property.
If you are not using a deep fryer for your Thanksgiving feast, you still want to exercise caution when preparing your meal. Thanksgiving is the leading day of the year for home fires involving cooking equipment.
General Thanksgiving Safety Tips from NFPA:
• Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.
• Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
• Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.
• Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy, or coffee could cause serious burns.
• Keep the floor clear so that you do not trip over kids, toys, handbags, etc.
• Keep knives out of reach of children.
• Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffeemaker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
• Keep matches and utility lighters out of reach of children—up high in a locked cabinet.
• Never leave children alone in the room with a lit candle.
• Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
If you do not have working smoke alarms or are in need of additional smoke alarms, you may be eligible for MFRD’s Project SAFE “Smoke Alarms for Everyone” program. Please contact MFRD at 615-893-1422 for more information.
The safety of our community is MFRD’s ultimate goal. We hope that these Thanksgiving Safety tips will help you and your family have a safe and enjoyable holiday!