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How to safely deep-fry a turkey (Video)

Sunday - 11/18/2012, 2:25pm  ET

Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Deep-frying can be a great way to get that Thanksgiving turkey extra juicy, but it can also lead to a holiday disaster.

As turkey fryers grow in popularity, firefighters and paramedics are trying to get out the word about safety.

"We can set it like clockwork that we will unfortunately burn down at least two homes because of people using turkey fryers improperly," says Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor.

The juice-infusing method of cooking the traditional Thanksgiving bird includes a few common mishaps that can lead to house fires.

"Not only will they leave [the fryer] unattended, they'll leave it within a couple feet of the house," Bashoor says.

Last year in Prince George's County, two house fires started as a result of turkey fryers set close to a home and right next to pine trees.

Another major mistake is plopping the turkey in the fryer frozen.

"That ice creates a popping and a boiling of the water that then creates an over pressure and a boil over that can cause a fire," Bashoor says.

Here is a full list of turkey fryer tips from Prince George's County Fire and EMS:

  • Use turkey fryers outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other combustible materials.
  • Always follow manufacturers instructions on the set-up and use of the fryer.
  • Inspect the propane tank and all associated tubes and connections to ensure there are no leaks of the flammable gas.
  • Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.
  • Make sure 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 do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot hours after use.
  • 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 do not mix; water causes oil to spill over causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
  • The National Turkey Federation recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds in weight.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If the fire is manageable, use your all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call the fire department for help.

State Farm Insurance made a video about how easily a turkey fryer can start a fire:

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)