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'Tis the season to head to the poultry aisle to pick up a big ole bird! Now, let's talk cooking for a sec. Turkey fryers provide an extra level of excitement and festivity when it comes to Thanksgiving meal prep, but they are also extremely dangerous. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association strongly discourages the use of turkey fryers. The NFPA believes that turkey fryers that use oil are not suitable or acceptably safe by even a well-informed or careful consumer. The fryers use a large quantity of cooking oil at high temperatures that can pose a significant danger for burns and fires. The majority of fires due to turkey fryer incidents happen when the oil is being heated -- even before the actual food is added to the fryer.
The problem with turkey fryers is that all that oil and grease is being heated to an extremely high temperature, and remember, fires need heat, fuel, and oxygen to live. So, all that hot oil has a significant risk of inspiring a fire to ignite. The reminder is that trying to use water to put out a grease fire can often lead to the fire spreading. As many people don’t know this or panic when a fire ignites, that creates an even larger potential for burns and injuries.
We know that even with all the risks, some of y’all are still going to want to give it a go. So, though we strongly discourage the use of turkey fryers, we will provide these safety tips to keep you protected and reduce fire risk.
Note: If you plan on using a turkey fryer to fix your holiday dinner, it is critical that you know how to properly work the device.
1. Only use turkey fryers outdoors and at a safe distance from buildings and other combustible materials.
2. Never use a turkey fryer on a deck or inside of a garage.
3. Use the turkey fryer on a flat surface to prevent spillage of any hot oil.
4. NEVER leave a turkey fryer unattended. There is not a thermostat on most fryers, so you cannot tell how hot the oil is. The oil can get overheated to a point where it can catch fire if you are not diligent.
5. Do not allow children or pets near the turkey fryer while it is in use.
6. Do not overfill the fryer with oil. Follow the manufacturer instructions on the proper amount of oil that is needed to cook your turkey.
7. Wear safety glasses and long sleeves, and use insulated pot holders to protect from oil splatters.
8. Make sure that the turkey is completely thawed when you put it in a turkey fryer. Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator 24 hours for every 5 pounds of weight. Also, make sure that the meat is completely dry before you place it in the fryer. There is a risk of injury from splashing oil due to cooking partially frozen meats.
9. Avoid touching the sides of the turkey fryer without protection as you could be severely burned.
10. Keep a Class K fire extinguisher nearby for accidents. Do not use water to extinguish an oil fire. If a fire is not manageable with a fire extinguisher, call 911 immediately. Shop STOP-FYRE extinguishers now.
11. If any smoke is coming from the fryer, the device should be turned off immediately because the oil has become overheated.
12. Raise and lower food inside the turkey fryer slowly to reduce spatters and avoid burns.
Remember that possessions and turkeys are replaceable, but you are not! Keep the safety of people and animals top of mind as you go into your cooking expeditions.
Stay safe out there, and God bless!