Wednesday, November 24, 2010

North Charleston Fire Department urges cooking safety for Thanksgiving


Thoughts this week are turning to turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings for many in the Lowcountry.  One way to cook the holiday feast is to use a turkey fryer. The North Charleston Fire Department urges residents to plan safety into the day.

Consider that the National Fire Protection Association, NFPA, discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil. These turkey fryers use a substantial quantity of cooking oil at high temperatures, and units currently available for home use pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process. The use of turkey fryers by consumers can lead to devastating burns, other injuries and the destruction of property. NFPA urges those who prefer fried turkey to seek out professional establishments, such as grocery stores, specialty food retailers, and restaurants for the preparation of the dish, or consider a new type of "oil-less" turkey fryer.

For those who still are considering the deep frying method the Consumer Product Safety Commission urges all to monitor the temperature of the oil closely. If any smoke at all is noticed coming from a heating pot of oil, the burner should be turned off immediately because the oil is overheated. This is also true of all cooking with oil situations in the kitchen.

CPSC also reminds residents that there is a risk of injury resulting from splashing due to the cooking of partially frozen meats. Thoroughly thaw and dry ALL meats before cooking in hot oil.

When preparing to cook your turkey remember to follow the instructions that came with the fryer; these include making sure there is at least three feet of space between the liquid propane tank and fryer burner. Also, place the liquid propane gas tank and fryer so that any wind blows the heat of the fryer away from the gas tank. Then center the pot over the burner on the cooker. Completely thaw (USDA says 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds) and dry turkey before cooking. Partially frozen and/or wet turkeys can produce excessive hot oil splatter when added to the oil this causes a significant chance for fire or burn injuries as the water evaporates.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions to determine the proper amount of oil to add.

If those are not available:

  • Place turkey in pot
  • Fill with water until the turkey is covered by about 1/2 inch of water
  • Remove and dry turkey
  • Mark water level. Dump water, dry the pot, and fill with oil to the marked level.
  • Keep fryer in FULL VIEW while burner is on.
  • Place fryer in an open area AWAY from all walls, fences, or other structures.
  • Never use IN, ON, or UNDER a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or any structure that can catch fire.
  • Raise and lower food SLOWLY to reduce splatter and avoid burns.
  • COVER bare skin when adding or removing food.
  • Check the oil temperature frequently.
  • If oil begins to smoke, immediately turn gas supply OFF.
  • If a fire occurs, immediately call 911. DO NOT attempt to extinguish fire with water. 
Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

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