To The Daily Sun,
Over the past decade there has been a new trend for cooking turkeys — the turkey fryer. The traditional method of cooking a turkey could take hours; a turkey fryer can complete the job in less than an hour. Unfortunately, every year deep fat fryers are responsible for around 1,000 fires, resulting in five deaths and 60 injuries. As the fryers become more common, the fires and deaths will continue to increase. Because of the risks attributed to turkey fryers, Underwriters Laboratories will not certify any fryer with their trusted UL mark and many safety organizations warn against their use. The majority of reported incidents occurred while the oil was being heated, prior to adding the turkey. For this reason, it is very important consumers monitor the temperature of the oil closely. If any smoke at all is noticed coming from a heating pot of oil, the burner should be turned off immediately because the oil is overheated. A flash fire can occur very quickly at this point.
Should you choose to fry turkeys follow these safety guidelines:
— Turkey fryers are not meant to be used indoors.
— Keep the fryer in FULL VIEW while burner is on.
— Do not let children get anywhere near the fryer.
— Place the fryer in an open area AWAY from all walls, fences, or other structures.
— Never use IN, ON, or UNDER a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or any structure that can catch fire.
— Raise and lower food SLOWLY to reduce splatter and avoid burns.
— COVER bare skin when adding or removing food.
— Check the oil temperature frequently.
— If oil begins to smoke, immediately turn gas supply OFF.
— If a fire occurs, immediately call 911.
— DO NOT extinguish fire with water.
Follow these guidelines as you prepare to use a turkey fryer:
— Make sure there is at least two feet of space between the liquid propane tank and fryer burner.
— Place the liquid propane gas tank and fryer so that any wind blows the heat of the fryer away from the gas tank.
— Center the pot over the burner on the cooker.
— Completely thaw (USDA says 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds) and dry turkey before cooking. Partially frozen and/or wet turkeys can produce excessive hot oil splatter when added to the oil.
— Follow the manufacturer's instructions to determine the proper amount of oil to add. If those are not available:
— Place turkey in pot
— Fill with water until the turkey is covered by about 1/2 inch of water
— Remove and dry turkey
— Mark water level. Dump water, dry the pot, and fill with oil to the marked level.
Remember you are heating combustible oil to a very high temperature. There could easily be several gallons of oil in the fryer. If this ignites it will create a very serious fire and produce huge amounts of thick black smoke. I dealt with one of these fires about 15 years ago. It wasn't a Thanksgiving turkey, however the resulting fire destroyed the home's kitchen and left major damage to the rest of the home.
Chief Ken Erickson
Laconia Fire Department