Nov 21, 2022

Fire Marshal: If you want fried turkey for your holiday meal, do it safely

Posted Nov 21, 2022 7:46 PM

Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Hutchinson Fire Marshal Mike Cain is clear. Frying your Thanksgiving turkey has its risks, but if you feel it necessary, there are some precautions you should take.

"It should be in a commercially made, purchased fryer, not a homemade fryer," Cain said. "That's because the commercial ones generally have temperature settings and thermostats on them, so you're not getting that oil way, way too hot."

If the oil is too hot, it can ignite on its own, separate from the turkey. Also make sure the fryer is on level ground, so that it can't tip over and lose the hot oil. When it comes to the bird, it needs to be fresh or fully thawed.

"Make sure everybody stays away from it, including the pets," Cain said. "You don't want your 120 pound lab running up and hitting it and knocking it over. Keep everybody away from it, on level ground, at least 10 to 15 feet away from any structure, but anything combustible. That's house, garage, vehicle, pile of firewood, anything combustible, at least 10 to 15 feet away."

The danger is really the expansion of the steam created if the bird is not fully thawed, as it can make the hot oil go places it shouldn't, which is how such fires generally ignite.

"I would suggest taking and using a paper towel and patting it down, getting as much moisture off of it as you can before you decide to put it in there," Cain said. "That's what ultimately causes the problem is that frost and that moisture boiling off. Then, when you go to put it in, do it very slowly, it's not just a walk over and drop it in."

Cain said such fire calls are relatively rare. His department sees one about once a year.