Local News

Fire officials urge caution when frying turkeys

Posted November 20, 2007 12:31 p.m. EST
Updated November 18, 2008 12:45 p.m. EST

Wake County Fire Marshal Ray Echevarria has urged residents to be extremely careful Thanksgiving if they choose to use a turkey fryer. The recent popularity of the large fryers has lead to an increase in fires caused by their use.

Underwriters Laboratories, the world's leading product safety testing and certification organization, has refused to certify the fryers because of the fire risks, officials said.

"Turkey fryers are typically top-heavy and can tip over easily, spilling hot oil and potentially causing severe burns or fires," Echevarria said in a news release. "Units that are overfilled with oil can have the oil spill out when the turkey is placed into the pot. Once the oil comes into contact with the burner, a fire can result."

Partially frozen turkeys placed into the pot can cause a spillover effect, also causing a fire. Most units have no thermostat control, which can lead to the oil overheating to the point of combustion.

If you choose to use one of these fryers, officials urge you to follow these critical safety steps:

  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors at 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. If you don't watch the fryer carefully, the oil may continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer. The oil inside the pot can remain dangerously hot for 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. This can cause a fire or an explosion.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. If the fire is manageable, use an all-purpose fire extinguisher. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If the fire increases, immediately call 911 for help.