Farmington Hills Fire Department Warns About Turkey Fryers

Almost all outdoor, gas-fueled turkey fryers pose a 'significant safety risk'.

This article and safety advice has been released for the past four or five years, yet we still get information every holiday season on residents who defy the odds and risks associated with turkey fryers.

It’s possible that some of these residents are actually monitoring their turkey the entire time they are being cooked, but for some reason, we doubt it. And if they are standing there, watching the turkey being deep fried for hours, it would have been much easier to place it in the oven and set a timer to check on it when it is finished cooking.

With that said, the , along with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Underwriters Laboratory (U.L.), are strongly discouraging the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse a turkey in hot oil.

Many people rave about the taste and time saved in the kitchen, but most people are sacrificing safety for good taste.

These fryers use a substantial amount of cooking oil at a high temperature, and almost all units pose a significant safety risk, as hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process. The use of these fryers has led to devastating burns, other injuries and homes completely destroyed by fire. The Fire Department urges those who prefer a fried turkey to consider a new type of “oil-less” turkey fryer.

Here are some hazards associated with the use of turkey fryers:

  • Most units easily tip over, spilling the hot oil from the cooking pot.
  • If the pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill out of the unit when the turkey is placed into the pot. Oil may drain onto the unprotected burner or flames, causing a fire to engulf the entire unit and its surroundings.
  • A partially frozen turkey can cause a spillover effect. This too may result in a devastating fire.
  • These units have no thermostat controls, and they have the potential to overheat to the point of combustion.
  • The lid and handles on the sides of the cooking pot get dangerously hot, and pose a severe burn hazard.

If these concerns aren’t enough to discourage you from using a turkey fryer, consider the following tips to prevent a fire or disaster while cooking your turkey:

  • Always use a turkey fryer outdoors, away from anything combustible or flammable.
  • Never use them in a garage, under a shed or on a wooden deck.
  • Always use them on a flat surface to reduce the possibility of tipping over.
  • Never leave your fryer unattended.
  • Never let children or pets near the frying unit.
  • Do not overfill the pot. Follow manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Be sure your turkey is thoroughly thawed before placing it into the hot oil.
  • Use oven mitts to prevent burning your hands.
  • Have a portable fire extinguisher handy or ready to use if needed. Dial 911 if there is a fire.
  • If the weather is forecasting rain or snow, consider scrapping the entire frying option, as water and hot oil do not mix!

Finally, the hot oil inside the pot will remain hot for several hours after your turkey has been removed. Continue to follow the tips and recommendations for safe use until the oil has completely cooled.

Be safe and enjoy the upcoming holiday season with your family and friends!

Lieutenant Denny Hughes is a fire and safety educator with the Farmington Hills (MI) Fire Department. He may be reached at 248-871-2823 or at DHughes@fhgov.com. Some material re-printed with permission of the NFPA and UL


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