Turkey Talk: Keeping Your Thanksgiving Safe

Did you know that Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous days of the year for cooking-related fires. The popularity of turkey fryers is one major reason. 

By design, most fryers hold a large amount of extremely hot cooking oil, which catches fire easily. When placing a large, cold and sometimes web bird in the oil, splashing oil causes skin burns and can easily ignite.

Here are a few tips to help you keep Thanksgiving dinner safe. (Taken from Amanda Prischak;s article on ErieSense)

Before Cooking

  • Buy the right-sized bird. Know what size bird your fryer can safely cook. A 12- to 14-pound turkey is usually the biggest bird a turkey fryer can accommodate.If you are having a large crowd for dinner, it's better to cook two smaller birds than one larger one. 
  • Make Sure Your Bird is Completely Thawed and Dry. Water causes oil to bubble up, increasing the chances of a spill. (The National Turkey Federation recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every four or five pounds of whole body turkey.)
  • Choose A Safe Location. Make sure to set up your outdoor propane fryer on a level spot far away from your house or any structure.Indoor electric fryers are best used on porches, patios, garages or an outdoor area within reach of an electrical outlet; otherwise, place it on a countertop that’s a safe distance from any overhead cabinets.
  • Do not exceed the “fill line.” Most fryers have a “fill line” indicating how much oil to put in the fryer. If yours doesn’t, place the turkey in the fryer and fill three to five inches from the top of the fryer.

During Cooking

  • Keep an all-purpose, dry-powder fire extinguisher close by. Before the big day, make sure you have the correct extinguisher on hand. Never use water on a grease fire.
  • Heat the oil slowly. Also monitor the oil’s temperature. (Check your user manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation.)
  • Stay Close. Watching the fryer, even before the turkey is cooking is essential in preventing accidents. Many flare ups happen when no one’s keeping an eye on things.
  • Follow Your Fryer's Instruction Manual. Manufacturers provide instructions on how to safely use your specific fryer. Be sure to review them, even if you've used your fryer before.
  • Be Sure To Thoroughly Cook The Turkey. Frying turkeys is a much different cooking process from traditional roasting. Consult your fryer's manual for specific information on making sure your turkey is fully cooked, especially if this is your first time using a fryer.

While turkey fryers account for many Thanksgiving Day accidents, other cooking-related problems can derail your celebration just as easily. Always follow safe cooking tips when working in the kitchen.