Turkey Frying Safety

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joshua Steen
  • 90th Missile Wing Fire Emergency Services

Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires.

When you fry foods, you increase the risk of a cooking fire.


Though a deep-fried turkey is a Thanksgiving favorite, the actual frying can be extremely dangerous. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, nearly 4,300 fires occur on Thanksgiving causing 15 deaths and almost $27 million in property damage. Many of them are due to deep-frying accidents.

One major cause of turkey fryer accidents is that the turkey is not completely thawed. The USDA recommends refrigerator thawing, allowing approximately 24 hours for every five pounds and drying the turkey before cooking. Partially frozen and/or wet turkeys can produce excessive hot-oil splatter when added to the oil.

Although using a turkey fryer can be dangerous, there are actions that can be taken to reduce the likelihood that an accident or injury will occur. Consider the following safety tips:

Turkey fryer set-up

1. Always use your turkey fryer outdoors and away from buildings and any material that can burn. Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks or in garages and make sure to place the fryer on a flat surface.

2. Place the liquid propane gas tank and fryer so that wind blows the heat of the fryer away from the gas tank. Make sure there is at least 2 feet of space between the liquid propane tank and fryer burner.

3. Never leave the fryer unattended or overfill the fryer. The container must be large enough to hold the turkey with enough oil to cover it.

Oil selection and how much to use?


Only oils that have high smoke points should be used. Such oils include peanut, refined canola, corn oil, rice oil and sunflower. Canola oil is low in saturated fats and would be appropriate to combine with peanut oil if fat and cholesterol are a concern.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions to determine the proper amount of oil to add. If those are not available:


Step 1: Place turkey in pot.

Step 2: Fill with water until the turkey is covered by about 1-2 inches of water.

Step 3: Remove and dry turkey.

Step 4: Mark the water level. Dump water, dry the pot and fill with oil to the marked level.

4. Check the oil temperature frequently. If the oil begins to smoke, immediately turn the gas supply off. If you don't watch it carefully, the oil may catch fire.

5. Always use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when using a turkey fryer, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.

6. Raise and lower food slowly to reduce splatter to avoid burns and remember to cover bare skin when adding or removing food.

7. Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use. Even after the food is on the table, remember that turkey fryers remain dangerously hot for hours.

8. If a fire breaks out, never use water to try to put it out. Adding water to a grease fire will only make things worse and could result in significant fire damage, as well as devastating injury. Make certain you keep a fire extinguisher on hand (use an ABC Multi-Purpose Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher), but if the fire appears unmanageable, call 911 for help, rather than fighting it yourself.

 Please feel free to contact the F. E. Warren Fire Department for any further information at 773-2931.