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Firefighters Urge Caution with Turkey Fryers

Nationally, firefighters respond to some 155,000 cooking fires each year.

Frying a turkey may result in a juicier bird, but firefighters remind cooks not to let safety fly away in favor of taste.

More than 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires are reported each year, causing an average of $21 million in property damage and five deaths, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Thankfully, no fryer-turkey related accidents have occurred in Arlington in the last two years or so, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Gregg Karl.

If you are planning on frying a turkey, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Cooking anything above 375 degrees Fahrenheit increases the risk of igniting vapors from the oils used in cooking. Furthermore, hot oils can spill over into the flame, especially when taking the turkey in and out of the fryer, firefighters said.
  • Steam produced when a frozen, or partially frozen turkey is fried or when hot cooking oil mixes with snow or rain can burn you.
  • Make sure the bird is completely thawed. Twenty-four hours of thawing is recommended for each five pounds the bird weighs.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pots or lid handles. Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  • Though extinguishing a turkey fryer fire is difficult and unlikely because of all the hot oil, it’s still a good idea to keep an all-purpose, dry powder fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Use the fryer on a completely flat outside surface, but not in a garage, wooden deck or porch.
  • Use caution when frying with marinades: oil and water don’t mix and doing so can cause a fire or explosion.
  • Keep children and pets away from the fryer while cooking and for several hours after.
  • Call 911 in case of a fire.  


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