Many families enjoy eating turkey on Thanksgiving. While many opt for the more traditional method of using the oven, every now and then it’s good to switch things up. However, it’s best to read up on the warning labels of a product before using it, so without further ado, here’s how to deep fry a turkey without encountering a disastrous situation.

“If you are buying a larger turkey than usual, make sure it will fit in the oven.” - Mary Berry

The Actual Dangers

Fire bad.
Try to avoid this scenario. Source: Edwards

It’s critical to keep the amount of oil in the pot at the right level, perhaps even a bit lower, to prevent an accident from occurring. You’ll want to make sure the measurements for the fryer are correct. To prevent a turkey fryer failure, follow these simple instructions:

  1. Use the thermometers - oil can combust
  2. Do not - touch the handle, lid, or sides of the unit
  3. Do not - stuff a turkey you want to deep fry
  4. Keep the oil from touching the burner - a fire could start immediately
  5. Keep on a stable, sturdy area - otherwise the unit may tip
  6. Keep away from structures - especially wooden ones
  7. Do not - leave fryer unattended
  8. Keep fire extinguishers handy
  9. If an eruption occurs, call 911 immediately

The Actual Damage

All it takes a moment for flame to erupt
It just takes a moment of looking away. Source: Johnson City Press

Every year many homeowners fry a turkey for Thanksgiving, and every year some of those fryers cause harm and property damage. This usually occurs when grease from the pot hits the igniter and causes a flame to erupt. It only takes a few seconds and then everything around the fryer is engulfed in fire.

Here are the annual turkey fryer accidents statistics, according to the NFPA:

  • $15 million property damage
  • 900 homes destroyed
  • 60 injuries
  • Deep fried turkey deaths per year: 5
  • Most of these accidents occur in Texas

Thaw the Bird

Remember to check all the parts of the turkey for being still frozen
Make sure the turkey isn't frozen in any place. Source: Martha Stewart

It's very important that the bird is completely thawed before being lowered into the fryer. Even just one spot or water or frost can cause the oil to "pop," which can hit the burner and start a fire. Also, be sure that it's thawed way before you add any spices or rubs onto the skin. It really only takes a pocket of moisture to start a fire. This way you can prevent a deep fried turkey accident.

How to Tell if Your Bird Is Thawed?

The main practice of thawing a turkey involves simply keeping it in the fridge for a few days before Thanksgiving. It takes approximately 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey, so obviously larger birds are going to take longer. Otherwise look to the following methods:

  • Check by touch, including the inside of the turkey
  • Use a thermometer, it should measure around 32 degrees
  • Set up the frozen turkey on a rack for more air
  • Worst case scenario: cold water bath

Keep 10 Feet Away from Any Building

What most fire departments especially warn about is the property damage caused by a fryer that was left unattended for just a moment. A moment is all it takes for some grease to ignite and light a building around it on fire.

So avoid deep fryer accidents by keeping the fryer as far away from anything flammable as possible. It may even be best to cancel the frying if there’s a higher than average amount of precipitation.

Lower it in Slowly

It actually helps to rig a pulley system
Lower it in carefully. Source: Foodie

Lots of people tend to miss this advice. Because a deep fryer catches fire so easily, very carefully lowering the turkey into the fryer is advised. This will also keep the level of oil from rising too quickly, and help prevent spillage. It really only takes a little bit to become heated before the entire unit erupts into flames.

Let the Oil Cool

Finally: cleanup. Let the oil cool completely before attempting to empty it, and place it in a glass or plastic container with a tight lid. Freeze the contents before throwing them away. Otherwise use kitty litter. You don’t want to add to the turkey fryer fire statistics after the meal.

Any Thanksgiving turkey fryer tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for more great tips and inspiration!

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