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Thanksgiving Cooking Safety
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By Vice President / Lieutenant Scot Best
November 20, 2023

On Thanksgiving Day, many families customarily spend the holiday inside their home or at the home of a friend or family member with the family dinner being the highlight of the day. Thanksgiving is the leading day for home fires involving cooking equipment, at three times the average number per day.

• An estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an estimated average of 5 deaths, 25 injuries, and $21 million in property loss.
• Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings occur most frequently in the afternoon hours from noon to 4:00 p.m., peaking from noon to 1:00 p.m.

With the speed of deep-frying a turkey, the irresistible flavor, and juiciness that results, turkey frying has become a Thanksgiving tradition for some. But turkey fryers have the potential to cause fire and serious injury, which is why organizations like Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) advises against using them. NFPA continues to believe that turkey fryers that use cooking oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer. These turkey fryers use a substantial quantity of cooking oil at high temperatures and units currently available for home use pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process. In addition, the burners that heat the oil can ignite spilled oil. The use of turkey fryers by consumers can lead to devastating burns, other injuries, and the destruction of property.

Tips to help prevent deep fried turkey accidents:
• Keep outdoor fryers off decks, out of garages, and a safe distance away from trees and other structures.
• Make sure the turkey is thawed and dry before cooking. Ice or water that mixes into the hot oil can cause flare-ups.
• Watch the weather. Never operate a fryer outdoors in the rain or snow.
• Place the fryer on a level surface, and avoid moving it once it's in use.
• Leave 2 feet between the tank and the burner when using a propane-powered fryer.
• Follow the manufacturer's instructions to avoid overfilling. Oil can ignite when it makes contact with the burner.
• Choose a smaller turkey for frying. A bird that's 8 to 10 pounds is best; pass on turkeys over 12 pounds.
• Never leave fryers unattended.
• Purchase a fryer with temperature controls, and watch the oil temperature carefully. Cooking oil that is heated beyond its smoke point can catch fire. If you notice the oil is smoking, turn the fryer off.
• Turn off the burner before lowering the turkey into the oil. Once the turkey is submerged, turn the burner on.
• Wear goggles to shield your eyes, use oven mitts to protect your hands and arms and keep an "ABC" or grease-rated fire extinguisher close by. Do not use water or a garden hose on a fire related to turkey fryers.
• Skip the stuffing when frying turkey, and avoid water-based marinades.
• Keep children and pets away from the fryer at all times.
• Once finished, carefully remove the pot from the burner, place it on a level surface and cover to let the oil cool overnight before disposing.
• Air fryers are a safe alternative to oil fryers and taste just as good!

If you plan to deep-fry your holiday bird, be sure you know how to safely use the fryer, and take these precautions to protect yourself, your guests and your home.


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Ridge Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.
13820 Point Lookout Road
P.O. Box 520
Ridge, MD 20680
Emergency Dial 911
Non-Emergency: 301-872-5571
E-mail: info@ridgevfd.org
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