Fire departments around the country are putting out warnings to their communities, reminding the public that deep-fried Thanksgiving turkeys can pose risks, and should be completely thawed and carefully dried before being submerged in a vat of boiling oil.
Skipping those all-important steps can cause a fiery explosion that can cause serious harm to cooks and bystanders and is a surefire way to ruin your Thanksgiving meal.
When placed in boiling oil, elements such as ice and water or, in this case, a frozen turkey, can cause an explosion. Water and oil don’t mix and can have extremely volatile chemical reactions. This has been regularly documented by fire safety and prevention professionals for years and is often to blame for fires on or around Thanksgiving.
The National Fire Protection Association reports that fires caused by deep fryer accidents result in more than $15 million in property damage each year. Approximately 60 people get injured by deep fryer fires, and five people die from these fires, according to the NFPA.
In light of this, the Colorado Springs Fire Department Public Information Office shared a video on Friday, Nov. 18, showcasing what can happen when a frozen turkey is submerged in oil while indoors. The 26-second clip shows flames from the explosion shooting up to the structure’s ceiling and spreading outward, engulfing the entire room.
“Never fry a turkey inside your home or garage. Do not overfill your fryer with oil. Always ensure your turkey is completely thawed before frying,” the Colorado Springs Fire Department wrote alongside the video.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, the Stafford County Fire & Rescue reshared its “Avoiding Turkey Fryer Fires” YouTube video from 2021, raising awareness across its social media channels about the dangers of deep-frying frozen turkeys.
They showcase the reaction when a firefighter releases a turkey into an outdoor propane fryer. The Flames quickly engulf the controlled setup and rise high in the sky. The propane tank was set far enough away that it wasn’t ignited.
One of the firefighters explain that propane or gas fryers should be placed away from homes, house decks, trees, bushes, vegetation and just about anything else flammable.
“You want it in the middle of an area where nothing’s going to catch on fire,” the firefighter said.
They also explained that grilling, microwaving or smoking frozen turkeys can be dangerous, but roasting a frozen turkey is safe.
Frozen Thanksgiving turkeys require about a day of thawing for every four to five pounds, according to the fire department.
In a press release, the NFPA wrote, “On Thanksgiving Day alone, an estimated 1,400 home cooking fires were reported to U.S. fire departments in 2019, reflecting a 228 percent increase over the daily average.” The NFPA advises against using oil-based deep fryers for turkeys, recommending that people buy fried turkeys from grocery stores or restaurants.
However, if one does decide to deep fry their turkey, it’s best for them to know how to do so. In light of this, many fire departments have put out guides to deep frying turkeys.
The International Firefighters Association suggests fully thawing and drying your turkey, using the right amount of oil, recommending “smaller” turkeys between eight and 10 pounds and skipping stuffing completely. They also recommend having a fire extinguisher handy in case of flare ups.
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