Thanksgiving. The word gets my tastebuds going every time!
Personally, I can’t have the holiday without my Aunt Joyce’s stuffing (or dressing if you prefer) — but I know the turkey often steals the show for most families.
Over the past several years, deep frying your turkey has been increasing in popularity. I’m told it’s a great way to get a moist, flavorful bird — but it can also be pretty dangrous if you’re not careful.
According to insurance company records, grease and cooking-related claims more than double on Thanksgiving Day. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says deep fryer fires lead to an average of five deaths, 60 injuries and more than $15 million in property damage every year.
In fact, the NFPA recommends letting the professionals (grocery stores, specialty food retailers and restaurants) prepare your fried turkey due to the danger posed by heating such a large amount of cooking oil to such a high temperature (350° F or higher). A small splash or spill can be enough to cause serious burns.
If you’re still determined to fry your turkey, please keep these safety tips in mind:
- Know Your Science: Remember back in middle school when you learned about displacement? That experiment where you fill up a beaker to the rim and then drop something in? What happened? That’s right, the water overflowed. The same principle applies to your super-heated oil. Make sure you leave enough room in the fryer for your turkey to displace the oil without overflowing.
- Thaw Completely Before Frying: Placing a frozen or partially-frozen turkey into a fryer is a recipe for disaster. When ice or water comes into contact with hot oil, the water vaporizes, which leads to hot (HOT) oil spraying out of the fryer. For the same reason, don’t use water to thaw your turkey.
- Fry on a Flat, Non-Combustible Surface: Many fryers are top-heavy and unstable, which can lead to a spill (which is dangerous on its own). That spill turns into a much bigger problem if the super-headed oil spills onto your deck (read: fire).
- Know How to Handle a Grease Fire: Again, NO WATER or ICE. Keep an extinguisher nearby and call 911 for help immediately.
Want to see what happens when you don’t follow the guidelines? Check out this video from the Associated Press: