WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- The holiday season is traditionally a joyous time of year. Sadly, this time is often marred by unnecessary and preventable tragedies.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration each year there is an increased incidence of cooking-related fires on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Many of these fires are preventable, and so are the injuries they produce. By taking a few safety precautions, you can ensure that you and your family enjoy a safe and happy holiday.
One of the more dangerous and yet preventable situations can arise from a cooking style that has become increasingly popular throughout the United States. Deep-fried turkey has become popular in recent years, thanks to the availability and portability of the cookers as well as the popularity of celebrity chefs and the cooking shows on which the technique is demonstrated.
This Thanksgiving, Westchester Medical Center would like to remind everyone of the dangers associated with the improper use of turkey deep fryers.
“There are many burn hazards in the kitchen and around the house centered around cooking to begin with; adding the use of a deep fryer for a turkey poses a significant risk of serious burns and fires,” said Dr. Joseph Turkowski, director of the Regional Burn Center at Westchester Medical Center.
“These pots are filled with 300-degree boiling oil, making them as flammable as gasoline, so before you even begin to cook your turkey, they is already a potential hazard and in many cases an accident waiting to happen. Every year around this time we see patients with serious burns as a result of misuse and carelessness.”
Most fire departments and other authorities recommend that you don’t deep-fry your turkey, but if you absolutely must, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for safe usage.
Cooking a turkey in a deep fryer should only be done outdoors in a well-ventilated area well clear of buildings and any other combustible material.
The fryers should be placed on a flat, firm surface and should never be placed on a wooden deck in a garage or inside your home.
“Make sure your turkey is fully defrosted,'' Turkowski said. "Never place a frozen turkey into the hot oil. In addition to rapid displacement of boiling oil which may come in contact with the ignition source and cause a fire, serious burns can occur as ice under the turkey’s skin rapidly defrosts and turns to steam, which rises, sending boiling oil into the air around the fryer.
“Children should be closely monitored when a turkey fryer is in use, and it should never be left unattended,” Turkowski added.
Here are some more safety tips:
- Always read the instructions and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for use.
- Make sure your turkey is fully defrosted before you place it in the fryer.
- Never deep-fry inside your home.
- Never leave the fryer unattended.
- Cordon off the cooking area. Keep pets and children out of the area.
- Keep the birds to a manageable size.
- Know how much oil will safely fit into your deep fryer and how much oil will be displaced.
- Monitor the temperature.
For more information on the safe use of turkey fryers, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website at http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PREREL/prhtml04/04041.html