Turkey fryers can burn, explode
SUSAN CHRISTENSEN, Biloxi Sun-Herald
JACKSON - Mississippian George Glenn set out to fry a turkey last holiday season and almost cooked his goose.
After flambéing his bare hand on the turkey fryer's hot lid, Glenn flung the bird into the bubbling grease with a bit too much gusto. "It exploded like a cannon," said the Rankin County resident. "Grease shot up and I got second-degree burns on my forearms and hands."
Glenn doesn't blame the fryer for his misfortune. "You can't idiot-proof the world," he said.
But you can take steps to ensure your holiday menu doesn't land you in the emergency room, says Lauren Fairburn, coordinator for Think First, Methodist Rehabilitation Center's statewide safety and injury prevention program.
Her advice: Use extreme caution around turkey fryers.
"These fryers are very popular, but they also can be quite dangerous," Fairburn said. "Underwriters Laboratories Inc. won't even give any of these cookers its safety seal. The labs' testing revealed too many risks."
Among the labs' concerns: units can easily tip over, spilling hot oil; spillovers can hit the burner/flames, setting the whole unit on fire; lack of thermostat controls means the units can overheat oil to the point of combustion; the sides, lid and handles get dangerously hot.
Given the risks, Fairburn says families might want to go back to cooking their turkey the old-fashioned way. But if you can't forgo the taste of deep-fried turkey, she recommends heeding Underwriters Laboratories' tips for safe turkey fryer use:
Always use turkey fryers outdoors, keeping them a safe distance from buildings and other materials that can burn.
Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks or in garages.
Use fryers on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostats and oil can continue to heat until it catches fire.
Keep children and pets away from fryer during and after use. Oil can stay dangerously hot for hours after use.
Do not overfill cooking pot.
Use well-insulated potholders and oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. Safety goggles can protect your eyes from oil splatters.
Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Water or ice crystals (from partially thawed birds) introduced into boiling hot fat can cause oil to bubble over, leading to fires or even explosions.
If any part of the turkey fryer catches fire, do not attempt to extinguish. Get everyone away from the fryer and any areas that are endangered and call 911 for help.
For more information about safe cooking or the injury prevention programs offered by Methodist Rehabilitation Center, go to methodistonline.org.
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FOX news has an article on this this morning. They mention 700°F oil!! What goober would let it get there? The danger in these fryers is NOT FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS.
Deep-Fried Turkey Can Be Delicious, Dangerous
Thursday, November 27, 2003
By Makeba Scott Hunter
WASHINGTON — The makers of deep-fat fryers have a message for ambitious chefs this Thanksgiving: Turkeys don't burn houses down, people do.
As the trend toward fried — instead of roasted — turkey has grown, so has the concern over the possible dangers of deep-fat fryers.
Allstate Insurance said 15 homes burned to the ground around the country last Thanksgiving as a result of the improper use of turkey fryers. The product-testing company Underwriters Laboratory Inc. (search) refuses to certify as safe any turkey fryer model currently on the market.
In 1999, the last year figures were available, the National Fire Protection Association (search) reported that 500 fires involving a deep-fat fryer took place around the nation, resulting in over $6.8 million dollars in damage.
But defenders say the fryers are as safe as any appliance, if used properly.
"Anything, if you don't follow the directions, can be unsafe," said Johnny McKinion, general manager of Bayou Classic (search), which manufactures several deep-fat fryers.
"If you don't follow the directions for driving your car or for a chain saw are you going to get hurt? Sure you are," McKinion said. "But if you follow the directions on all of my cookers, they're as safe as anything else."
And, generally speaking, the Maryland State Fire Marshal's office agrees.
"Just like with any other home appliance, the most important piece of equipment that comes with the fryer are the instructions," said Deputy State Fire Marshal W. Faron Taylor.
"When the instructions are followed, the chances of having a fire or burn injury or both are reduced almost 100 percent," Taylor said. "It is when people do not follow the instructions, do not attend to the cooking, don't set equipment up right or in the right location — it is then that we see problems."
But the instructions alone are not enough of a safeguard, say testers at Underwriters Laboratories.
"The numbers (for turkey-fryer fires) are not going down but going up," said Barbara Guthrie, the director of consumer affairs at Underwriters. "At present, we do not believe that there are any sufficient standards that address the safety concerns."
Guthrie said those concerns begin with 5 gallons of scalding 700-degree grease precariously perched over an open flame. And many fryers are unstable — especially the tripod models — which leads to a high incidence of tipping.
When the oil meets the fire, Guthrie said, the fryers instantly become a "vertical flame thrower."
The Underwriters Web site features a video of a turkey fryer filled with hot oil that overflows. When the grease hits the flame, the fryer turns into a volcano of smoke and fire in just seconds.
"We don't believe the taste is worth risking your home, your life or the life of your children," said Guthrie.
Maryland does not keep fryer-specific data, Taylor said. But he noted that cooking fires and kitchen fires are the No. 1 cause of fire in the state, and on days like Thanksgiving when everyone is in the kitchen — or over the fryer — the problems can greatly increase.
If people insist upon frying up a turkey this Thanksgiving, Underwriters suggests that they always fry outside on a flat surface, always tend to the fryer, don't overfill it and make sure the turkey is completely thawed before immersing it.
McKinion said he doubts folks will stop frying turkeys. It has been a tradition in the South for a long time, he said, and his sales in the West and Northeast have increased in recent years. And he thinks people are discovering that the fryer is not just for Thanksgiving anymore.
"They can also deep fry ham, prime rib and pork loin," he said.
Capital News Service contributed to this report.
Heheheh...I remember our first attempt at frying one.
A couple of years ago at Christmas, my dad and I attempted to fry a "big yawd bowuhd". (That's "big yard bird", for the uninformed.)
I read the instructions carefully, set everything up as it should be, and prepared to cook. Then my dad got involved.
"No son, we do this all the time at the mill . Put those instructions away and let me show you how it's done." (He works at a paper mill, by the way. Lots of experts on many subjects work there.)
So, we set about following my dad's lead. Now, to be fair, my dad is the best cook I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. His food is so good it'll make you slap your mother-in-law. Really. (No, I haven't. Yet.)
So, we carefully put that bird in the hot oil. My gosh, did that oil swirl up and bubble over. It was a real mess. We were outside, though, so it was manageable.
After what I thought was the correct amount of time had passed by, I suggested we take a look see.
"No son, you don't want to mess with that turkey until it's done. Don't mess with the cooking. I'll tell you when it's done."
Ok, dad. By now, my wife, mother, brothers, their girlfriends, whoever else was there had gathered at the nearest sliding glass door with their faces pressed against it to watch the boiling pot of oil. Hunger had set in, and they looked through the glass at the pot feverishly. Some had forks in their hands, and a few were twitching nervously.
Finally, dad said, "Son, let's get that bird out."
Excited, I approached the pot with the hook thingy. I reached over, fastened the hook to the device that held the turkey in the pot, and I slowly begin to raise the bird into sight.
There were gasps of astonishment as the bird came into view. Astonishment turned to laughter as everyone saw the charred remains of what used to be a good sized turkey.
The turkey was coal black, what was left of it anyway. Most of the meat was gone, forever in turkey hell. What was left of the bird was mostly bones. Bones and greasy suet.
I looked at Dad and said, "Well, ya think it's done now?"
He shrugged and said "I thought you had it a little too hot. I just didn't want to say anything."
Thank you for reading my post!
Originally posted by spectr17@Nov 26 2003, 11:47 PM
"You can't idiot-proof the world,"
Famous last word: Put those instructions away boy!!!
My brother was one of those "goobers".
Left the fryer burning to run to the store for "just a second". He came back and his backyard was afire. He and a neighbor got the flames out before it got the house. I'm just surprised the tank didn't cook off. I guess the gas vented through the melted valve?
Anyway, it's a never ending source of jokes and ribbing every Thanksgiving now. His wife still doesn't see the humor though.
He has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct... Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience rather than a mob of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact.