Compared to the tradition of roasting the turkey in the oven on Thanksgiving, many families prefer a little more flavor by frying it instead. But many organizations, including the National Fire Protection Association and Underwriters Laboratories, are strongly against them due to the dangers they pose. If you have ever watched a turkey fryer fire video, you will notice that once the fire starts, it shoots up in seconds, engulfing the fryer and surrounding materials in a thick, fiery cloud.
But if these videos don’t scare you from sticking the bird in the hot oil, be sure to follow all instructions and practice extreme caution before doing so. Check out these turkey fryer fire safety tips to keep you, your loved ones, and home safe from a Thanksgiving fire disaster.
Emergency Fire Damage Restoration
While not all disasters can be prevented, knowing who to call after a fire damage emergency is crucial when it comes to restoring your property and contents. ServiceMaster is a professional fire and smoke damage restoration company that is available 24/7 to handle all property emergencies. From the initial inspection to rebuilding the structure, they will restore your home’s previous condition within a timely matter.
They can also restore personal items to their original conditions with professional content cleaning and pack out services. Using commercial cleaning products, they can remove that thick, oily residue left behind from the smoke and soot byproducts. As soon as the flames have been extinguished on your property, you can rely on these professionals to handle all aspects of the restoration process.
Cause of Turkey Fryer Fires
One of the best ways to prevent turkey fryer fires is to know what causes them. When a frozen turkey is submerged into a pot of oil, it won’t mix with the frozen water on the turkey. Instead, heavy pockets of water will sink to the bottom of the fryer while the oil surrounding them quickly heats it beyond its boiling point. The water then evaporates, expands, and splatters the oil everywhere.
As soon as the beads of oil hit the burner, they heat up instantly, igniting into flames that will quickly spread in all directions from the fryer. This is why the turkey can never be frozen or saturated before being fried.
Turkey Fryer Fire Safety Tips
While many families are successful in frying up a perfectly cooked bird, others become victims to large, thick clouds of fire that destroy their home and/or send them to the emergency room. This is why it is so crucial to know what you are doing before firing up the burner (no pun intended).
Location is key
Even if you have been frying your turkey for years and have never experienced a problem, you should know that doing it at least 10 feet away from all buildings is the most crucial safety tip. Because hot oil will spray everywhere when cooking, it can easily start a fire when making contact with combustible materials, such as wood or fabric. If the oil touches bare skin, it can also cause severe burns.
When finding an ideal spot to fry the bird, keep it at a safe distance away from all housing structures. The base should be made of dirt or concrete, a non-flammable material that won’t ignite when coming into contact with hot oil. Also keep the burner’s propane tank as far away from the burner as possible without causing too much tension on the hose or tipping over the tank.
For extra safety, keep a fire extinguisher next to you in case anything gets out of control.
Finally, keep everyone out of the frying area for their own safety – unless their help is absolutely necessary.
Thaw the turkey
Even if you choose to roast the turkey, thawing it is an essential part of the preparation process. Before adding any spices or seasonings, make sure that it is fully thawed.
To do this, allow it to sit in the fridge for every 4 pounds of meat, or if you are running short on time, place it into a cold water bath, and let it sit for one hour for every 2 pounds.
After ensuring that the turkey is fully thawed by checking it for ice, dry it out completely and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Be careful with the seasonings
While everyone has their own opinion about which seasonings to add to a turkey, extra attention must be put forth when deep frying the bird. If you are marinating it first, make sure that it dries completely before placing it into the hot oil. You can also inject the liquid seasoning deep within the muscles, under the skin so that the oil won’t splatter when it cooks.
Measure the oil thoroughly
While you are waiting for the seasonings to dry (if you used liquid), you can start the measuring process. This is also another essential step to prevent the oil from spilling over the sides, landing on the burner, and causing everything to go up in flames.
To measure the perfect amount of oil, first practice with water. Place the turkey into the pot and fill it with water until it reaches between 4 and 6 inches below the rim. Then remove the turkey and measure the volume. This will be the exact amount of oil you will want to use when frying the turkey. Just make sure that both the pot and the bird are thoroughly dried before adding the oil.
Lowering the turkey
As soon as you are ready with the seasonings and have ensured that the bird is fully thawed, it is ready to be placed into the oil. If you choose to do it by hand, make sure to cover every inch of bare skin. This includes wearing oven mitts, long sleeves, pants, and close-toed shoes. Otherwise, the hot oil will stick to bare skin, causing severe burns that can result in an emergency trip to the hospital.
If you want to use something else to lower it, make sure that it can hold a lot of weight by testing it with heavy books, rocks, or a strong fryer basket. Then practice lowering them to get the feel of how to do it slowly.
After practicing, be sure that the turkey is securely attached to the rope, or it won’t slip from your hands. Then carefully lower it into the oil. If it starts spitting, DO NOT DROP THE TURKEY, but lift it out of oil and find out what’s wrong.
While grease fires are the most dangerous risk when frying turkeys, don’t forget about the most general cooking risk: undercooked meat. But it can be difficult to dip the meat thermometer in boiling oil to measure the bird’s internal temperature.
A general rule is to cook the turkey for three minutes per pound. Then you can carefully remove the turkey from the hot oil to take its temperature. If it reads 145 degrees, allow it to cool down at room temperature for 20 minutes before carving into it.
Cleaning up the mess
Even after a successful frying job, cleaning up the oil can be a chore. First allow it to cool down before taking it out of the pot; you can measure its temperature before disposing of it. As soon as it safe to do so, do NOT dump the oil down the drain.
Instead, pour it into a disposable container, such as a large can or plastic container, and then throw it in the garbage. If you are afraid it may leak, place the container into the freezer until it becomes solid, and then throw it away.
Afterwards, wipe away the grease from the burner with either dish soap or vinegar. And there you have it – a successfully fried turkey and undamaged house!
Always be Prepared
Even if you have been frying turkeys for years, accidents can still happen. The turkey can slip from your hands when lowering it into the fryer or your rope-and-pulley system could break, spilling the oil everywhere and igniting a fire. The point is that something can always go wrong when frying a turkey; therefore, you should always be prepared. Ensure to have all emergency contact numbers, including your local hospital, fire department, insurance company, and fire damage restoration company.
Especially during Thanksgiving, ServiceMaster has restored numerous homes that have caught on fire due to turkey fryer accidents. In fact, they are always prepared for the unexpected, being available 24/7 to start the cleaning, demolition, and rebuilding process as soon as possible. As a result, they have been known to not only restore homes but restore peace of mind during a Thanksgiving disaster.