There’s no denying that deep-fried foods are delicious; however, there’s also no denying that the preparation of these foods in a deep fryer can pose a serious burn hazard. A deep fryer relies on oil at very high temperatures to create a crisp exterior texture and a moist interior of the food. Though the reward is great, the risks of personal injury should always be taken into account. It should not come as a surprise to anyone that deep fryers can be the cause of some extremely painful accidents.
One growing trend that tends to crop up around the holidays in particular is the act of deep frying a turkey. This requires a turkey fryer, culinary knowledge, skill, and most importantly, safety. While a deep fryer will suffice for most fried foods, due to the large size of a turkey, a specific turkey fryer is required. These turkey fryers are traditionally gas or propane powered and intended for outdoor use, but there are also electric turkey fryers for cooking inside the house. The National Fire Prevention Agency actually advises against the use of oil-based turkey fryers, and particularly against the use of outdoor gas-fueled fryers with a burner. The obvious danger of gas explosions, or the oil catching fire is the reasoning behind this. They recommend making use of a oil-less turkey fryer or having a professional establishment prepare it instead.
In either case, precautions are always necessary. A faulty fryer can cause personal injury from oil burns, or worse, start a house fire than can cause severe property damage, as well as mortal danger for anyone within the vicinity. A 2013 news report provided statistics showing that deep fryer fires were the cause of a handful of deaths, several injuries, a multitude of house fires, and millions of dollars of property damage each year. With the deep-fried turkey only growing in popularity, these numbers can only increase. If a deep-fried turkey is going to be on your table this Thanksgiving, take a look at these safety precautions to prevent burn injury.
Helpful Safety Tips for Frying Your Turkey
- Always keep the fryer in view when in use
- Keep the fryer in an open area away from any walls or fences
- DO NOT use the fryer in or on any structure that can catch fire (i.e. garages, porches, etc.)
- Be sure that the turkey is completely thawed and dried to prevent oil spatter
- Place and remove food in and out of the fryer slowly to prevent splash or spatter
- Always monitor the oil temperature
- Be sure there is sufficient space between the gas supply and the burner (CPSC recommends two feet)
- Cut off the gas supply if the oil begins to smoke
- DO NOT attempt to put out an oil fire. Call 911 right away
The CSPC provides a great list of safety precautions, as well as directions for using turkey fryers here.
It is always important to take care around any situation that can pose a burn hazard. Deep frying a turkey can make for a delicious and indulgent Thanksgiving dinner item, but without proper precautions it can become a Thanksgiving disaster.