Fry the Turkey, Not the House!
Thanksgiving is near and visions of fried turkeys already are dancing in more than a few heads.
Yet even as you are salivating, your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent hastens to caution you. The old joke that men love cooking only if it involves flames and danger is not so funny after an accident. Every year too many folks are harmed and homes are burned due to the combination of large pots of hot oil and big turkeys. Your homeowners insurance may respond for the fire damages and your health insurance for the emergency room visit, but is that really the new Thanksgiving tradition you had in mind?
Fried turkey can be a great alternative to traditional oven-roasted fare, but be certain to take into account the much higher risk factors. Use a fryer designed specifically for turkeys, rather than jury-rigging other cooking equipment. Once you have the proper fryer, follow a few tips from the experts that can make the difference between taste sensation and flaming disaster:
- Turkey deep fryers should always be placed outdoors, on a flat, preferably concrete surface located a safe distance away from anything combustible. Never use a turkey fryer in the garage, on a wooden deck, or anywhere near the house.
- Never leave the fryer unattended. Even after you are finished cooking, do not let pets or children near the unit. The oil in the fryer remains extremely hot for hours after cooking.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy. The best is a Class K wet chemical fire extinguisher. If fire erupts, do not throw water on it. Water cannot extinguish a grease fire and will cause the oil to spatter violently. Use common sense. If the fire is small, use the extinguisher, but dial 911 for emergency assistance before the blaze becomes unmanageable.
- Use oil with a high smoke point, such as peanut or canola.
- Do not overfill the turkey fryer. If oil spills over?because the turkey is too large or the oil level is too high?flames can engulf the unit and endanger bystanders. Before frying, conduct this test: Put the unseasoned turkey into an empty fryer. Then fill the fryer with water until the turkey is fully submerged. If the turkey fits comfortably, mark the water level. When preparing to cook, dry the fryer thoroughly. Then fill it with oil to an inch shy of your level mark to allow for expansion of the oil as it heats.
- Thaw the turkey completely and dry it with paper towels. Injected marinades are fine, but season the turkey skin with a dry rub. Excess water in a partially frozen or wet turkey will cause the pot to bubble over, resulting in a fire hazard. The National Turkey Federation recommends 24 hours of thawing for every five pounds of bird before cooking in a turkey fryer.
- Most turkey fryers do not come with a thermostat, and if left unattended may overheat, resulting in combustion. Turkey fryer thermometers and other accessories are available.
- Use heavy oven mitts or well-insulated potholders. The lid, handles, and sides of the cooking pot become very hot, posing a severe burn threat. Protective eyewear is also recommended.
Your Trusted Choice agent always stands ready to offer advice and a comprehensive review of your current insurance coverage and needs. But when it comes to safety, remember: The best claim is the one you never have to make. Whether you’re tending a deep fryer or waiting on the timer to go off on your oven, be safe this Thanksgiving and holiday season.