Deep Fried Turkey: How to Avoid Fires and Other Mishaps

A growing Thanksgiving trend is preparing deep fried turkey. Though a deep fried turkey is very good, the actual frying can be extremely dangerous. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), nearly 4,300 fires occur on Thanksgiving causing 15 deaths and almost $27 million in property damage, many of them due to deep frying accidents.

Compare home insurance quotes from leading companies and save.

Home Fires Double at Thanksgiving

The number of structure fires nearly doubles on Thanksgiving—mostly due to all the cooking going on. This is why it is extremely important to deep fry turkeys outside, away from buildings and materials that can burn. Keep animals and children away from the fryer so they don't get burned and don't accidentally knock the fryer over.

How Much Oil?

Most deep fried turkey recipes call for peanut, corn or canola oil—but just how much oil is necessary? Many turkey frying accidents happen when too much cooking oil is used and spills over the pot, catching fire when the turkey is dropped in.

Here is a simple way to figure out how much oil to use:

  • Place turkey in pot
  • Fill with water until the turkey is covered by about 1/2 inch of water
  • Remove and dry turkey (a wet turkey can cause oil to splatter latter)
  • Mark water level. Dump water, dry the pot, and fill with oil to the marked level

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says that most turkey frying accidents occur while the oil is being heated, prior to even adding the turkey. This means we must be extra vigilant when heating the oil, and turn off the fryer immediately if any smoke appears.

Safety First

Here are some safety tips from the CPSC for making your own delicious deep fried Thanksgiving turkey, without burning your house down:

  • NEVER leave a fryer unattended.
  • Place fryer in an open area AWAY from all walls, fences, or other structures.
  • Never use your fryer IN, ON, or UNDER a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or any structure that can catch fire.
  • Completely thaw (USDA says 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds) and dry turkey before cooking. Partially frozen and/or wet turkeys can produce excessive hot oil splatter when added to the oil.
  • Center the pot over the burner on the cooker.
  • Raise and lower food SLOWLY to reduce splatter and avoid burns.
  • COVER bare skin when adding or removing food.
  • Check the oil temperature frequently.
  • If oil begins to smoke, immediately turn gas supply OFF.
  • If a fire occurs, immediately call 911. DO NOT attempt to extinguish fire with water.

To make sure your home is properly protected from flaming birds this Thanksgiving, check your homeowner's insurance policy. Make sure you are getting the best rate on your homeowners insurance by comparing homeowners insurance quotes.