Although a mighty (and delicious) tradition, deep-frying a turkey can be fatal if not done properly. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), every year, deep- fryers are responsible for 5 deaths, 40 injuries, the destruction of 900 homes, and more than $15-million in property damage.
Safety precautions are critical if you are deep-frying a turkey and it starts with proper thawing. Leaving a turkey out on the counter to thaw can cause Salmonella poisoning. Turkey (and all meats and fish) should be thawed in the refrigerator. Give yourself enough time to properly thaw your turkey.
Here are the USDA guidelines for thawing a whole turkey in the refrigerator:
- 4 to 12 pounds: one to three days
- 12 to 16 pounds: three to four days
- 16 to 20 pounds: four to five days
- 20 to 24 pounds: five to six days
Dangers associated with deep frying a turkey
1. Units can easily tip over, spilling hot cooking oil over a large area.
2. An overfilled cooking pot or partially frozen turkey will cause cooking oil to spill when the turkey is inserted.
3. A small amount of cooking oil coming into contact with the burner can cause a large fire.
4. Without thermostat controls, deep fryers have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion.
5. The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles can get dangerously hot, creating severe burn hazards.
If You Fry a Turkey, Do So Safely
- Fryers should always be used outdoors, on a solid level surface a safe distance from buildings and flammable materials.
- Never use a fryer on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, in a garage or enclosed space.
- Do not overfill the fryer.
- Never leave the fryer unattended because, without thermostat controls, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
- Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use or after use as the oil can remain hot for hours.
- Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts and wear long sleeves and safety goggles to protect from splatter.
- Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before it is placed in a fryer.
- Keep all-purpose fire extinguishers nearby.
- If a turkey fryer fire occurs, call 911 immediately.