Each year, Americans prepare a whopping 45 million turkeys for the traditional Thanksgiving Day feast. However, for those who decide to center their meal around a fried turkey, the potential hazards of cooking that dinner in the turkey fryer can be far worse than putting on a few extra pounds. UL is urging consumers to take extra caution if they are going to use turkey fryers this holiday season.
Manufacturers have made strides toward enhancing product features in an attempt to make turkey fryers safer for consumers. These new features include designing non-heat conducting handles and sturdier stands; but, based on continued observation, turkey fryers still pose a considerable risk if not used correctly.UL remains firm in its decision not to certify any turkey fryers with its trusted UL Mark.
“We’re worried by the increasing reports of fires related to turkey fryer use,” said John Drengenberg, UL consumer affairs manager. “Based on our test findings, the fryers used to produce those great-tasting birds are not worth the risks.”
Here’s why using a turkey fryer can be dangerous:
Although some manufacturers have improved the stability of their fryers, some units could tip over, spilling as much as five gallons of hot oil out of the cooking pot.
If the cooking pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill out of the unit when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may hit the burner/flames, causing fire to engulf the entire unit.
Partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can also cause a spillover effect, resulting in an extensive fire.
Most turkey fryers have no thermostat controls, increasing their potential to overheat cooking oil to the point of combustion.
The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.
Use extreme caution when using turkey fryers. If you absolutely must use a turkey fryer, here are some tips for safer use:
Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors, located a safe distance from buildings and any other flammable materials.
Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks or in garages.
Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you don’t watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use. After use, continue to exercise extreme caution as the oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot for hours.
To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don’t mix and water can cause oil to spill over, starting a fire or even an explosion hazard.
The National Turkey Federation recommends refrigerator thawing and to allow approximately 24 hours for every five pounds of bird thawed in the refrigerator.
Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. Remember to use your best judgment when attempting to fight a fire. If the fire is manageable, use an all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call 9-1-1 for help.
Firehouse Cooking With Chief Rich
Many families gather in the kitchen to spend time together, but it can be one of the most hazardous rooms in the home if you don't practice safe cooking behaviors. Cooking equipment, most often a range or stovetop, is the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries in the United States. Cooking equipment is also the leading cause of unreported fires and associated injuries.
It's a recipe for serious injury or even death to wear loose clothing (especially hanging sleeves), walk away from a cooking pot on the stove, or leave items that can catch fire, such as potholders or paper towels, around the stove. Whether you are cooking the family holiday dinner or a snack for the children, practicing safe cooking behaviors will help keep you and your family safe.
Watch What You Heat!
Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking