FOR YOUR SAFETY: Preventing Turkey Fryer Fires

Crime & Safety

BEAUFORT COUNTY, SC (WSAV) – Thanksgiving is a time for friends, family, and food. one of the most popular ways to cook a turkey in the South is also one of the most dangerous.

Everyone loves the taste of a fried turkey and thinks it’s a simple and easy way to make a Thanksgiving dinner. but you need to know the rules before you start cooking.

The simple question we had was, what happens if a frozen turkey goes into hot oil.

We got firefighters from Burton and Bluffton Fire to help us find out with a controlled experiment.

This one small demonstration gave an answer, in the form of a fireball.

“When you put the turkey into oil that ice which it was frozen, turns into water,” explains Cpt Lee Levesque, Bluffton Fire Dept. “The water causes expansion within the oil which in turn causes it to spill over the sides and reaches the flames below, causing the fire we are all trying to avoid.”

Captain Lee Levesque of the Bluffton Fire Department recommends you thaw your bird in water for 24 hours before trying to start cooking it. Even then, you should still check it by hand.

More than 1600 cooking fires happen in the United States every year, making this the most dangerous holiday of them all.

Turkey fryers average 5 deaths, 60 injuries and $15 million in property damage each year.

Some of that just because people don’t know what to do if a fire breaks out. Including not to use water to put out a grease fire.

“I want to make sure we understand that oil and water don’t mix,” continues Cpt Levesque. “So in the event of a fire, don’t throw water on it. With an oil fire, it does not help, It will even make it work.”

“If you are not wearing gloves, people don’t realize how hot it is,” said Lt Eric Swanson of the Burton Fire Dept. “The oil is 375 degrees. Steam is coming off wherever it hits. That’s when the bird goes in and splashes that hot oil and you get hurt.”

Having a fire extinguisher at the ready will help, as will slowing down your process. Whether it’s by slowly lowering the bird into the hot oil, or taking a few minutes in advance to make sure everything, not just your seasoning, is just right.

“Five minutes before you cook to make sure you have all the safety bases covered,” said Levesque. “You have got a fire extinguisher, you are making sure you are wearing tight enough clothing so it won’t get caught up in what you are cooking. make sure you keep the children away so they don’t get burned by a deep fryer or oven.”

The firefighters recommend that if you are frying that turkey, do that burn outside, not under your porch or in your garage. Those flames can go higher than you think, catch insulation or the walls on fire.

Then you have a much bigger problem than if someone likes your dinner or not.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories