Avoid Turkey Fryer Dangers
With Thanksgiving fast approaching, thoughts turn to turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie. Delicious deep-fried turkey, historically prevalent in the southern states, is growing in popularity around the country, thanks to celebrity chefs such as Emeril Lagasse. The only problem is that the turkey fryers used to create this succulent dish are unsafe and not certified by Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
Turkey fryers are devices, resembling a large commercial coffee pot, that are filled with oil heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Turkeys are placed in this hot oil to fry the birds. The big problem, though, is that people often fill the fryers too full of oil, and it overflows when the bird is placed inside. This cascading oil hits the heating flames below, causing an instant fire. In addition, the turkey fryers are often quite unstable and easy to tip over. Lastly, many of these fryers lack adequate thermostat controls. Thus, the units have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion. For these reasons, UL does not certify any turkey fryers with its trusted UL mark.
UL and other safety organizations strongly urge people to discard their existing turkey fryers. But for those people who insist on using their turkey fryers, UL offers the following tips:
- Always use turkey fryers outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other burnable materials.
- Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks or in garages.
- Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce the chance of accidental tipping.
- Never leave the fryer unattended since most units lack proper thermostat controls. If people do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
- Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use. Even after use, never allow children or pets close to the turkey fryer. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot for hours after use.
- To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer. Test it beforehand with water.
- Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect eyes from oil splatter.
- Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby.
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International Risk Management Institute, Inc.
- Q&A: Deep frying a Thanksgiving turkey (blogs.consumerreports.org)