Deep Fried Turkey Safety Tips for a Safe Thanksgiving

Fran
Fran Majidi
November 27, 2019

People like to deep-fry. The foods we drench and heat in oil include deep-fried ice cream, deep-fried butter, deep-fried Oreos and yes, deep-fried turkey. In fact, deep-frying turkeys have become increasingly popular over the past few Thanksgivings, despite the fact that deep-frying a turkey puts people at very high risk for house fires.

Insurers see more fire claims directly related to deep fryers on Thanksgiving than they do any other time of the year. While deep frying a turkey is a delicious option, it is a dangerous one that should only be done with the strictest safety requirements in mind.

Many local fire departments have issued warnings about cooking with deep-fat turkey fryers. This is mainly because turkey fryers have a high risk of tipping over, overheating or spilling hot oil. Deep frying a turkey raises the chances of fires, burns and other injuries.

Check out our tips below so you can enjoy this holiday season without any mishaps.

What are the Dangers of Deep Frying a Turkey?

  • The pot can tip over, spilling hot oil.
  • Hot oil can spill when the turkey is inserted, especially if the pot is overfilled.
  • The cooking oil can spill onto the burner and cause a large fire.
  • The deep fryer can overheat the oil and cause the turkey to combust.
  • The cooking pot, lid and pot handles can cause severe burns because they get dangerously hot.
  • Deep frying turkeys that are more than 12 pounds creates more risk.

Where Should I Deep Fry My Turkey?

The best and safest place to fry your turkey is outside, at least 10 or 12 feet away from the main structure, the garage and shed. You should also avoid trees and anything that can catch fire.

How to Deep-Fry a Turkey Without Getting Hurt or Burning Down the House:

  • Thaw the turkey before you deep fry it. The National Turkey Federation recommends refrigerator thawing and to allow approximately 24 hours for every five pounds of bird thawed in the refrigerator.
  • Make sure the spot you choose is a solid level surface.
  • Don’t overfill the fryer with oil because when you submerge the turkey, it may overflow. To avoid overfilling the pot with oil, test out how much water the pot can hold with the turkey submerged in it. Use a ruler to measure how high the water comes after you take out the bird.
  • Do not allow children or pets near the fryer (no, not even after use; the oil will be hot for many hours).
  • Protect yourself with goggles, long sleeves, and appropriate potholders.
  • Keep fire extinguishers nearby in case there is a fire. The sooner you contain it the better.
  • Use oils with high smoke points. Oils that work best are peanut, canola and safflower oil.
  • Make sure the fryer is completely dry before you add the oil.
  • Allow the oil to heat anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour, as several factors determine how fast the oil will heat.
  • Before putting the turkey in the oil, dry the bird with paper towels to prevent splattering.
  • Maintain an oil temperature of 350º F.
  • Do not leave the fryer unattended.

What if There’s a Fire?

Call 911 immediately if a fire erupts and you cannot contain it. Remember not to throw water on fire because the oil and water will repel, and flames will ricochet and spread the flames even farther. If you can, smother the flames or put a lid on it. Fire extinguishers work the best, so have one on hand if you’re frying a turkey this Thanksgiving.

Will Insurance Cover a Fire?

Fire is a covered peril with a reliable homeowners insurance policy but you’ll still be responsible to pay the deductible before your losses are covered. You may also be scrutinized for being neglectful of taking proper measures to prevent the fire. Think about why it’s a bad idea to cook a combustible meal in a basement or garage.

Places Where You Should Not Deep Fry Your Turkey:

  • The garage
  • The basement
  • Under a tree
  • Under an overhang
  • A wooden deck
  • Under a patio cover
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