Deep-Fried Turkeys & Kitchen Fires
November 7, 2023
For many households, your kitchen is about to heat up. Many have a lot of cooking to do! If you’re hosting or attending a ‘Friendsgiving,’ then it might even be this weekend that you’re putting your kitchen and cooking skills to work.
We want you to have fun being thankful but we do need you to know that Thanksgiving is the number one day for cooking-related fires. Add a deep-fried turkey to that, and now your odds are even greater. Please follow these fire prevention tips for your holiday cooking!
Turkey Fryer Tips
We really do hate to be the bearer of bad news but we must inform you that organizations like Underwriters Laboratories and the National Fire Protection Association advise against deep frying your turkeys. That being said, they are delicious so, if you choose to fry a turkey anyway, we do advise the following:
- Always fully defrost your turkey, otherwise you risk hot oil splatters.
- Attend your deep fryer at all times once in use.
- Never fry your turkey in an enclosed space – homes, garages, sheds, enclosed porches, etc. (use the same rule of thumb as grilling).
- Stay off wood decks and away from trees and other flammable structures.
- Never operate an outdoor fryer in the elements, such as rain or snow.
- To avoid tipping, find a level surface and don’t move the fryer once in use.
- If using propane, leave two feet between the tank and the burner.
- Do not overfill the oil as it can ignite if it touches the burner. You can pre-test this by placing water and turkey in prior to cooking to determine the fill line.
- Keep it small! 8-10 pounds is reasonable, anything over that increases the chances of fire.
- Use temperature controls and turn your fryer off if the oil begins to smoke.
- Deep fry only the turkey – no stuffing or water-based marinades.
- When you are ready to submerge the turkey, turn off the burner until it’s all the way in, then turn the burner back on.
- Wear goggles and oven mitts long enough to protect your arms.
- Have a fire extinguisher on hand and ready to go (see below for which type to use for grease fires).
- Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away.
- Once your turkey is cooked, remove it and then carefully remove the pot from the burner, place it on a level non-flammable surface and let the oil cool overnight.
Some of the same rules apply to everyday cooking in your home. Many of these kitchen fire prevention tips will be familiar to you but we want you to have them top of mind as your kitchen heats up this holiday season!
- Keep your fire extinguisher handy (see below for which kind to use for general cooking fires).
- Do not leave your oven or stove unattended while in use.
- Do pay attention – if your food starts smoking or grease starts boiling, remove the item and turn the oven or burner off.
- Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove, reducing the chances of bumping or knocking them over when someone walks by.
- Use a pan lid or baking sheet to suffocate a kitchen fire.
- Keep anything that can catch fire at least three feet away from your stovetop (think oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging kitchen towels/paper towels).
- Be aware of loose clothing and hair and keep them away from open flames.
- Keep children and pets away from hot surfaces and open flames.
- Test your smoke alarms prior to cooking to ensure they are in proper working order.
Extinguishing Cooking-Related Flames
Referring back to our recent fire extinguishers blog will take you into much more detail but the bottom line is that you want an A:B:C (a.k.a. ABC) fire extinguisher for your kitchen and any other area you are deep-frying a turkey. It fights all three types of fires, ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids, and electrical. Always have one in the kitchen in a known location; five pounds is recommended for most residential kitchens. Remember the acronym PASS should you ever need to use it: