Fire crews warn of turkey fryer dangers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Fire crews warn of turkey fryer dangers


WATERLOO (KWWL) - In recent years, cooking with turkey fryers has become increasingly popular. Turkey fryers are devices, resembling a very large commercial coffee pot, that are filled with oil heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and above. People place turkeys in this hot oil to fry the birds.

"These fryers present a safety hazard,” Waterloo Fire Chief Doug Carter said. "More often than not, people fill the fryers too full and they overflow when the bird is placed inside.”

Overflowing oil hits the heating flames below causing the fryer and surrounding items to catch on fire. The hose feeding propane melts and then it allows raw propane to directly feed the fire. “These fires spread quickly and can get out of control before you know it,” Carter said.

Waterloo Fire Rescue cautions area residents using turkey fryers because they are dangerous.

Turkey fryer hazards

• Many units easily tip over, spilling the hot oil from the cooking pot.

• Partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can cause a spillover effect. This too may result in an extensive fire.

• With no thermostat controls, the units also have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion.

• The lid and handles on the sides of the cooking pot get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.

Important safety information

If you absolutely must use a turkey fryer, please use the following tips.

• Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other flammable materials.

• Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.

• Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.

• Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.

• Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot 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 do not mix, and water causes oil to spill over causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.

• The National Turkey Federation (NTF) recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds in weight.

• Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If the fire is manageable, use your all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call the fire department for help.

Source: Underwriters Laboratories

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