Turkey Fryer Fires Increase during Thanksgiving

Avoid Serious Burns, Fires and Insurance Claims by Following Turkey-Frying Tips

Editor’s note: This is the third of three 2015 posts about fire safety. Have a safe, claims-free, Happy Thanksgiving!

In 2013, more than 240 million turkeys were raised; more than 200 million were consumed in the United States; and an estimated 46 million were consumed on Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation.

turkeyWhen you think about the sheer number of turkeys gobbled up each Thanksgiving, you can imagine that somewhere, someone is going to have a turkey-cooking mishap. Perhaps even lots of folks, particularly if they live in Texas…but, more on that later. Chances are, turkey calamities will be related to turkey fryer fires.

More cooking fires occur Thanksgiving than any other day of the year, according to State Farm claims data. Grease- and cooking-related claims more than double on Thanksgiving Day compared to an average day in November.

Out of the Roasting Pan, Into the Fryer

Deep-frying turkeys is a popular method across the United States, not only because of the taste but due to the short cooking time involved (roughly 3 minutes per pound). However, care must be taken to avoid not only injury but potentially burning down your house, garage, or other nearby structure.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says that deep fryer fires result in more than $15 million in property damage each year. The splatter of boiling-hot oil can cause serious burns and even life-threatening injuries. The reasons are many: too much oil or frying a partially frozen bird can cause searing-hot splatter; failure to use oven mitts can lead to burns; using a turkey fryer too close to a structure or leaving a fryer unattended can instigate fires; and touching a perilously hot fryer can produce severe burns. In short, frying a turkey can be downright dangerous.

In fact, the Underwriters Laboratory—the not-for-profit organization that performs safety and quality tests on a broad range of products—refuses to certify turkey fryers with its trusted “UL” mark.

TurkeyFryer_(cropped2)Regardless of the downsides, many will still fry their Thanksgiving bird. If you choose to use a turkey fryer, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission suggest the following safety tips:

  • Never leave a fryer unattended.
  • Place fryer in an open area away from all walls, fences, or other structures.
  • Never use your fryer in, on, or under a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or any structure that can catch fire.
  • 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.
  • Center the pot over the burner on the cooker.
  • Raise and lower turkey 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 attempt to extinguish fire with water.

Using the aforementioned tips will help keep you eyebrows unsinged and your skin burn-free. And remember, they take longer to cook, but good-old-fashioned roasted turkeys are delicious, too.

Top 10 States: Most Turkey-Frying Claims

According to Propertycasualty360.com, the Top 10 states for turkey-frying claims are:

  1. Texas, 19
  2. Illinois, 18
  3. New York, 18
  4. Ohio, 13
  5. Florida, 13
  6. California, 12
  7. Louisiana, 12
  8. Pennsylvania, 12
  9. Minnesota, 11
  10. South Carolina, 11


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