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Fire officials demonstrate the dangers of turkey frying

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Posted at 11:07 AM, Nov 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-17 14:04:28-05

Firefighters say they see it every year: Turkey frier fires that could have been easily prevented.

Officials in Chicago demonstrated how quickly a fire can burst into flames. Their demonstration showed that it only takes seconds for a massive fire to erupt.

“While deep frying a turkey may add irresistible flavor, we all like a deep fried turkey, and juiciness to your Thanksgiving meal, there is also the potential for fire and serious injury. And we see that year after year,” said Chicago Fire Commissioner Nancy Holt.

If you are looking to fry a turkey, Erie Insurance Group has the following tips:

Before you start cooking:

1. Buy the right size bird: A 12- to 14-pound turkey is usually the biggest bird a turkey fryer can accommodate.

2. Follow the thawing process: Let your turkey thaw and dry. Excess water causes oil to bubble up, which increases the chances of a spill. The National Turkey Federation recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every four or five pounds of turkey.

3. Find the right spot: Place a propane-fired outdoor fryer on a level spot far away from your house and any other structures. Indoor electric fryers are often safest on porches, patios, garages or an outdoor area within reach of an electrical outlet; otherwise, place it on a countertop that's a safe distance from any overhead cabinets.

4. Do not overfill: Most fryers have a "fill line" indicating how much oil to put in the fryer. If yours doesn't, place the turkey in the fryer and fill three to five inches from the top of the fryer. Do not exceed the fill line.

During cooking:

5. Take it slow. Heat the oil slowly, and monitor the oil's temperature as it increases. Always check your user manual for the manufacturer's recommendation on cooking times and temperature ranges.

6. Don't go anywhere: Stick around the fryer while you are cooking. Many flare-ups happen when no one's keeping an eye on things. The quicker you spot a fire, the faster you can put it out.

7. Be ready (just in case): Keep an all-purpose, dry-powder fire extinguisher close by in case something goes awry. And never use water on a grease fire.

“Oil and water, liquid and frozen don't mix. Water causes hot oil to bubble and spill over, which can quickly result in a fire. That means you never put a frozen turkey into boiling grease. Let me repeat that. You never put a frozen turkey into boiling grease,” Holt said.