All across the country, fire departments will today -- on Thanksgiving -- respond to fire calls due to improper use of deep fryers. WGFC has seen fires from deep frying turkeys, and we've visited homes where deep fryers were being used in garages and even indoors.
WGFC has a lot of experience deep frying turkeys -- they are the centerpiece of an emergency services dinner that serves 200+ people each December just before Christmas at our firehouse. We cook 20+ turkeys in a few hours each year this way -- so here are some safety tips for you to keep in mind if you choose to deep fry your holiday bird:
-Do not overfill the fryer.
-Fryers should always be used outdoors, on a solid level surface a safe distance from buildings and flammable materials.
-Keep all-purpose fire extinguishers nearby.
-Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before it is placed in a fryer.
-Never leave the fryer unattended because, without thermostat controls, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
-Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use or after use as the oil can remain hot for hours.
-Never use a fryer on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, in a garage or enclosed space.
-Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts and wear long sleeves and safety goggles to protect from splatter.
The most common error is over filling the pot with oil. To properly measure, place your wrapped (not yet opened turkey) in the pot and fill it with water to just above the turkey. Remove the turkey and mark the pot where the water level remains -- that is the amount of oil you need for your cooking. Remove all water and dry the pot - and make sure the turkey you are using is fully defrosted before cooking.
Here is a video that shows the dangers of overfilling and frozen birds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjUynq0HXdQ
Thanksgiving fires also come from unattended cooking in the kitchen: Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires with more than three times the daily average for such incidents. Christmas Day and Christmas Eve ranked second and third, with both having nearly twice the daily average. Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths.
Cooking causes half (49 percent) of all reported home fires and more than two of every five (42 percent) home fire injuries, and it is the second leading cause of home fire deaths (20 percent).
Be careful this holiday season. Best wishes for you and your family on Thanksgiving and for the holidays.