Wednesday, November 21, 2012
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Turkey fryers: a potential hazard for serious accidents and fires

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[November 21, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD -- As millions of families across the state prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving with a traditional feast, the Office of the State Fire Marshal reminds residents to exercise safety while cooking, especially when using turkey fryers. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving continues to be the leading day for home cooking fires in U.S., more than any other day of the year.

According to the NFPA, Illinois was second among the 10 states that reported the highest number of fires during Thanksgiving between 2005 and 2010, with the use of turkey fryers being one of the main causes of fires. NFPA reminds consumers that while turkey fryers are becoming a popular method for cooking, they continue to be a potential fire hazard. This can lead to devastating consequences, including serious burns and the destruction of property.

"Family members in charge of cooking should always practice common sense and safe cooking practices," said Larry Matkaitis, Illinois fire marshal. "Turkey fryers continue to pose a considerable risk for fires if recommended procedures are not followed."

Many fire departments have shown that deep fryers tend to be top-heavy and have a risk of tipping over, overheating or spilling hot oil, leading to fires and burns. When a frozen, cold or even wet turkey is submerged, bubbling hot oil spills over the pot's rim and onto the burner, causing an explosion.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal, in accordance with the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission, recommends that consumers who prefer the method of turkey fryers should follow the following guidelines:

  • Keep turkey fryer in FULL VIEW while burner is on. Do not leave unattended.

  • Place turkey fryer in an open area AWAY from all walls, fences or other structures.

  • Never use IN, ON, UNDER or close to a garage, breezeway, carport, porch or any structure that can catch fire.

  • Completely thaw turkey (USDA says 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds) and dry it before cooking. Wet turkeys can produce excessive hot oil splatter when added to the oil.

  • Raise and lower food SLOWLY into fryer to reduce splatter and avoid burns.

  • COVER bare skin with protective clothing when adding or removing food from the fryer.

  • Check the oil temperature frequently.

  • Make sure there is at least 2 feet of space between the liquid propane tank and fryer burner.

  • Place the liquid propane gas tank and fryer so that if there any wind, it blows the heat of the fryer away from the gas tank.

  • Center the pot over the burner on the cooker.

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  • If oil begins to smoke, immediately turn gas supply OFF.

  • If a fire occurs, immediately call 911. DO NOT attempt to extinguish the fire with water.

Other holiday cooking safety tips:

  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling food.

  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly. Use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.

  • Keep anything that can catch fire -- oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains -- away from your stovetop.

In case of a cooking fire, remember the following information:

  • If your home catches fire, leave the building immediately and call 911.

  • DO NOT PUT WATER ON A GREASE FIRE! Pouring water on burning grease or oil will not extinguish the fire. Burning oil will splash, spreading the grease fire over a larger area.

  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

  • If clothes catch fire, STOP, DROP AND ROLL to extinguish the flames.

  • If a frying pan catches fire, turn off the burner immediately and smother the fire.

For more information about fire safety and prevention, visit

[Text from Office of the State Fire Marshal file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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