Those planning on frying a turkey this holiday season need to follow directions carefully, said Phoenix Fire Department officials.
The fire department held a safety demonstration on Thursday to show just how easy it is to start a fire or cause injury while frying a turkey. When oil is heated to an unsafe temperature or when the fryer is too full, hot oil can boil over, hit the open flame below, and cause a fire. At the Nov. 15 demonstration, splatters of oil hit cameras 20 feet away from the fryer.
In 2010 cooking was involved in an estimated 156,400 home structure fires, according to the National Fire Protection Agency. These fires caused 410 deaths, 5,310 injuries, and an estimated $993 million in property damage. While frying a turkey is not the only way to cook the bird, and it’s not the only way to cause a fire, it is one of the most dangerous, fire officials said.
“Typically with oil, burns are deeper,” said Dr. Marc Matthews of the Arizona Burn Center. “The oil gets hotter so it burns you deeper. It’s typically second- and third-degree burns and it’s usually over a large surface area because it sticks to your clothes and your skin. Water will bounce off you. Oil clings to you. That’s why it’s so much deeper and the injuries are far worse.”
The fire department suggests following fryer directions carefully. Always use the fryer outdoors on a safe, secure and level surface where it won’t be tipped over. Allow the oil to heat slowly and when placing the turkey in or taking it out, move slowly to avoid oil splatter. Oil should be heated at 325 to 350 degrees and never go past the fill line. If you’re unsure of how much to use, place the turkey in the fryer with water first to measure a fill line.
If an accident does happen, call 911. To help with burns, run them under lukewarm water, Matthews said. Freezing cold water will actually make the injury worse.
The biggest problem while cooking is just inattentiveness. Matthews said he’s seen it all the time when the person cooking gets distracted by a family member or a child runs through the kitchen, unaware of what’s going on.
The Phoenix Fire Department just wants to encourage people to prepare and be safe.
“The preparation can’t be hasty,” said Jonathan Jacobs, spokesman for the Phoenix Fire Department. “You really have to go through the steps to make sure you’re safe… Ninety-five percent of people who do this do it completely safely. There’s a small number of people who do it incorrectly. The message we want to get out is be very diligent with your safety. You’re the only one who can be in charge of that. We wanted to show potential problems so people make sure they’re as safe as possible and enjoy it. It’s meant to be enjoyed.”
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