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Keep Your Kitchen Safe This Thanksgiving & Turkey Frying Tips

Keep Your Kitchen Safe This Thanksgiving & Turkey Frying Tips

 

As Thanksgiving approaches, it is important to remember that, amidst the festivity, safety should take precedence. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 173,300 home structure fires involving cooking equipment. These fires caused 580 deaths, 5,330 injuries, and $1.2 billion in direct property damage. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires. The good news is that the vast majority (71%) of Thanksgiving cooking fires are considered “confined fires,” meaning that they don’t result in serious injury or significant property damage. The other main type of building fire, a “nonconfined fire,” is the opposite, typically resulting in injury and structural damage. Non-confined fires make up the remaining 29% of home fires, and are most frequently caused by the misuse of material or product (such as appliances). These fires can also occur when a heat source comes too close to combustible materials and abandoned or discarded materials. So what’s the recipe for safety in the kitchen this Turkey Day? Here are some recommendations from the NFPA:

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or oven.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food.
  • When simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly.
  • Remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you when the food is done.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire such as loose clothes, oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains away from your stovetop.

 

IF A COOKING FIRE OCCURS:

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

Finally, regarding kitchen safety on Thanksgiving or on any day of the year, perhaps the simplest thing to keep in mind is also arguably the most overlooked: smoke detectors. Smoke detectors should be tested monthly to ensure they’re functioning properly and replaced every 10 years. They should be placed on all levels of the home, especially outside of sleeping areas.

           DEEP-FRIED TURKEY

Deep-frying turkeys for Thanksgiving has become very popular. If you plan on deep-frying your turkey this Thanksgiving, be sure to follow these safety guidelines.

  1. Turkey fryers should never be used inside the home, inside of a garage or on a deck, as malfunctioning equipment and hot oil splattering has the potential to cause fire and injury.
  2. Buy a fryer with at least 4 legs or a solid base. These provide the very best stability for the hot oil cooker.
  3. Read and carefully follow the instructions that come with the fryer.
  4. The fryer should be at least 10 feet away from any structure or trees. The placement area should be very firm and must be flat. Do not move the fryer when it is in use.
  5. Make sure the turkey is thawed and dry before cooking. Ice or water that mixes into the hot oil will turn to steam and can cause explosions or large flare-ups.
  6. Watch the weather. Never operate a fryer outdoors in the rain or snow. If either falls into hot oil, they will turn to steam and can cause serious flare-ups.
  7. Place the propane tank at least 2 feet from the burner.
  8. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid overfilling. Oil can ignite when it makes contact with the burner. BEST PRACTICE: Place the turkey in the empty fryer. Add water to the fryer until it just covers the turkey. Remove the turkey and note how much water is in the fryer. Dry the fryer and then add oil until it is 1-2 inches below the water line (the oil expands significantly when heated).
  9. Choose a smaller turkey for frying. A bird that’s 8 to 10 pounds is best; pass on turkeys over 12 pounds.
  10. Never leave fryers unattended.
  11. Purchase a fryer with temperature controls, and watch the oil temperature carefully. Cooking oil that is heated beyond its smoke point can catch fire. If you notice the oil is smoking, turn the fryer off.
  12. Turn the burner off before lowering the turkey into the oil. Only when the turkey is submerged and you are finished with the placement, should you turn the burner back on.
  13. Wear goggles or safety glasses to protect your eyes, use oven mitts to protect your hands and arms, and keep a grease-rated fire extinguisher close by.
  14. Skip the stuffing when frying turkey, and avoid water-based marinades.
  15. Keep children and pets away from the fryer at all times.
  16. Once finished, carefully remove the pot from the burner using oven mitts; place it on a level surface and cover to let the oil cool overnight before disposing.
  17. Consider using an oil-less fryer which uses infrared heat, rather than oil, to cook the turkey and is much safer. Even with all the proper precautions in place, accidents and equipment malfunctions can still happen.