Hot Oil Turkey Fryers Pose Significant Risk

While many people may choose to use hot oil turkey fryers to prepare their Thanksgiving meal, the Reno Fire Department is discouraging the use of the hot oil fryers because of the risk of injury and fire associated with the unique cooking units.

Reno Fire Marshal Bill Burney says the hot oil fryers have drawn the attention of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the American Burn Association (ABA) because of the significant risk they pose for fire and or burns.

According to Burney, NFPA and ABA consider the devices dangerous for several reasons:

The deep-frying cooking process requires up to five gallons of oil to be heated to high temperatures before lowering the turkey into the fryer, which can displace oil in the container spilling it onto the burner.

Many fryers have a risk of tipping over, overheating, or spilling scalding hot oil that can lead to fires and burns.

Some units do not have automatic thermostat controls to regulate the temperature of the oil which can result in the oil heating to the point of boiling over and catching fire.

The sides, lids and handles can get extremely hot and may cause burns.

Burney also notes that while those who purchase turkey fryers may find packaging that display independent product safety testing labels, those labels do not apply to the entire device, but are only related to a single component such as the hose.

As an alternative to deep frying a turkey at home, those who prefer the taste of fried turkey to should seek commercial cooking professionals to prepare the entrée as a holiday safe alternative, or find venues such as restaurants or supermarkets that may offer fried turkeys during the holidays.

Burney says those families that absolutely choose to use a turkey fryer should follow these tips for safer use:

Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other material that can burn.

Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks or in garages.

Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.

Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you don't watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.

Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use. Even after use, never allow children or pets near the turkey fryer. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot, hours after use.

To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.

Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.

Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don't mix, and water causes oil to spill over, causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.

The National Turkey Federation recommends refrigerator thawing and to allow approximately 24 hours for every five pounds of bird thawed in the refrigerator.

Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. Remember to use your best judgment when attempting to fight a fire. If the fire is manageable, use an all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call 9-1-1 for help.

Even after use, never allow children or pets near the turkey fryer. The oil inside the cooking pots remains dangerously hot, hours after use.

Further holiday safety and year-round fire prevention tips can be obtained by calling the Fire Prevention Bureau of the Reno Fire Department at (775) 334-2300.