FWFD: Fry Your Turkey Safely

By Max Resnik

November 21, 2012 Updated Nov 21, 2012 at 7:16 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – The Fort Wayne Fire Department is reminding Thanksgiving chefs to use common sense and follow a manufacturer’s instructions when frying turkeys Thursday.

Stacey Fleming, public information officer with FWFD, says Thanksgiving fire calls are inevitable.

“Fires are three times more likely to occur on Thanksgiving and around Thanksgiving than any other time of the year, so inevitably we probably will respond to something. But just simple safety precautions and common sense, we can avoid this.”

Fleming reminds turkey fryers to cook in open air and on level surfaces. Turkeys should be fully thawed and dried so that water and ice crystals do not cause the oil to splatter onto the open flame beneath the pot. In the event of a fire, which Fleming says can be avoided by constantly monitoring temperatures and not overflowing the pot with oil, water should not be used to try to put it out.

“A turkey fryer fire should not be extinguished with water. It should only be extinguished by an extinguisher, a fire extinguisher, and if ever in doubt, that's what we're here for. Call 911 and we'll be there to help.”

Tip: Place the turkey in the pot and fill it with water about an inch above the turkey. Take the turkey out and mark the inside of the pot with a marker to see how much oil is needed. This can help to avoid an oil estimation that is too great and leads to a fire.

Fleming also advises creating a circular boundary around fryers in the event of splattering oil. The boundary can also serve as a buffer for children and pets.

The Fort Wayne Fire Department compiled a cooking safety list with some its own tips and tips from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the National Fire Protection Association:

-If you are going to prepare the turkey by deep frying or grilling conduct the cooking outside on a level surface several feet from any building.
-Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks, balconies or inside garages.
-Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
-Never leave the fryer unattended.
-Don't over fill the fryer with oil. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to determine the proper amount of oil to use.
-Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry before placing it in the fryer.
-Cover bare skin when adding or removing food.
-If oil begins to smoke, immediately turn off the flame.
-If a fire occurs, immediately call 911.
-Do NOT attempt to extinguish the fire with water. This will make the fire worse. Only attempt to extinguish a turkey fryer fire with a fire extinguisher.
-Never allow small children in an area when turkey deep frying is occurring.

The Fort Wayne Fire Department also has a list of kitchen safety measures:

-Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove.
-If you must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
-Remain in the home while food is cooking and use a timer to remind you that the stove or oven is on.
-Keep in mind that you should avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking. Loose clothing can catch fire if it comes in contact with a gas flame or electric burner.
-Keep anything that can catch fire—pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels or curtains—away from your stove top.
-Clean up food and grease from burners.

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