Deep frying has become a trend in recent years for turkey lovers on Thanksgiving. Deep frying a turkey results in a crispy finish on the outside with tender, juicy meat on the inside. It also frees up the oven for other Thanksgiving food staples. Before you decide to deep fry, however, recognize the serious risks that can come with this cooking technique. Deep frying a turkey is so dangerous, in fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends avoiding this cooking method completely.
6 Dangers of Deep Frying a Turkey
The NFPA believes the level of risk associated with turkey deep fryers is such that even a prudent and well-informed consumer cannot safely use one. Cooking turkeys in hot oil poses significant risks, including the fryer tipping over or the oil coming in contact with burners – two things that could ignite uncontrollable fires. Turkey frying appliances could also experience defects with temperature control, potentially overheating the oil and causing combustion. Deep frying a turkey can come with many potentially life-threatening risks, even for careful users.
- Hot oil splashing or spilling over
- An overfilled cooking pot
- A pot tipping over
- Thermostat defects and combustion
- A dangerously hot fryer
- Kids or pets touching the fryer
These risks could cause third-degree burns as well as damage to the eyes from splashed oil. Turkey fryer mishaps could also lead to dangerous and potentially deadly home cooking fires. According to the NFPA, Thanksgiving is the number one holiday for home cooking fires. The U.S. Fire Administration seconds this assertion, finding an estimated 2,400 residential building fires, 25 serious injuries and 5 deaths occur each year on Thanksgiving Day. The average number of house fires on Thanksgiving is more than double (2.3 times) the number of fires on other days.
5 Deep Frying Safety Tips
If you must deep fry a turkey this Thanksgiving or know someone who is, do so with the highest degree of care. Recognize the high risk of burn injuries and fires associated with deep fryers. Prepare for the worst by investing in a grease-rated all-purpose fire extinguisher and keeping it close by while frying your turkey. You may also want to purchase a burn kit. While deep frying a turkey, use a few general safety tips to help prevent a calamity.
- Wear protective gear. Before you fry your turkey, suit up with flame-retardant clothing that fits snugly to your body, with no loose or hanging pieces. Wear long sleeves and grilling mitts. Use safety goggles to prevent injuries from oil splatter.
- Choose the right location. Only deep fry a turkey outside. Situate your deep fryer at least 10 feet away from your siding and any wooden decks. Do not put it under any eaves or low-hanging branches. Place it on a level, flat surface away from anything flammable.
- Completely defrost your turkey. Failing to completely defrost a frozen turkey has led to numerous deep-fryer disasters. A partially frozen turkey could lead to oil splashes and fires. Thoroughly thaw your turkey before placing it into the fryer.
- Do not overfill the oil. Read and follow your deep fryer’s cooking directions exactly. Never overfill a fryer, as this could lead to overflow and splashing of hot oil onto the appliance’s heating element.
- Supervise deep frying. Stay with your deep fryer at all times. Never allow children or pets near the appliance unattended. Keep an eye on the fryer and check the thermostat regularly for signs of overheating. Turn the fryer off immediately if the oil is getting too hot.
If a fire starts, use a fire extinguisher to try to put the flames out. Use the technique of stop, drop and roll if your sleeves or clothing catch on fire. If you cannot douse the flames, evacuate everyone from the yard immediately and call 911. Do not attempt to go near the fryer or your home, in case the flames travel to your house. Wait in a safe location away from the fryer and your home for the fire department to arrive. See a doctor right away if you suffered any burn injuries from a deep fryer. Avoid deep frying a turkey this Thanksgiving for the best chances of preventing fires and burns.