During the holidays, such as Thanksgiving, more cooking fires occur than any other time of the year.  More than 10,000 serious fires and hot-oil burns have been reported from the use of turkey fryers over the last decade, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving Day produces three times more cooking fires than any other day of the year.

“Cooking remains a major mechanism of injuries for adults, and small children who may be underfoot,” said Richard L. Gamelli, MD, director, Burn & Shock Trauma Institute, and Provost of Health Sciences, Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Hospital. Loyola’s Burn Center is one of the busiest in the Midwest, treating nearly 600 patients annually in the hospital and another 3,500 patients each year in its clinic. More than 40 percent of the burn cases are children.

“If a turkey fryer is used the way it’s supposed to be used by people who are not impaired by alcohol or drugs, I think they’re fine,” said Dr. Thomas Esposito, chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “Injuries from turkey fryers are rare, but when they happen to you or a family member, that doesn’t matter – they are very devastating.”

Deep fryers are at the source of more than $15 million in annual U.S. property damage.

“It doesn’t matter if it is a turkey fryer or a conventional oven, you should always take great care when using appliances, vehicles, and any other device that has the potential to cause great harm to yourself and others if used in a careless, irresponsible manner,” Esposito said.

Esposito offered quite a few safety tips for those planning to use a deep food fryer:

  • Look for the newer fryers with sealed lids to prevent oil spills.
  • Keep the fryer in full view while the burner is on.
  • Keep children and pets away from the cooking area.
  • Place the fryer in an open area away from all walls, fences or other structures.
  • Never use the fryer in, on, or under a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, deck or any other structure that can catch fire.
  • Slowly raise and lower the turkey to reduce hot-oil splatter and to avoid burns
  • Never cook in short sleeves, shorts or bare feet. Cover all bare skin when dunking or removing bird.
  • Protect your eyes with goggles or glasses.
  • Immediately turn off the fryer if the oil begins to smoke.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don’t mix, and water can cause oil to spill over, creating a fire or even an explosion
  • Don’t overfill the fryer with oil. Turkey fryers can ignite in seconds after oil hits the burner.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher (one that is appropriate for oil fires) close at hand and know how to operate it.
  • Do not use a hose in an attempt to douse a turkey fryer fire. Water does not put out an oil fire.
  • If you do burn yourself, or someone else is burned, get immediate medical attention.

Nothing is better than having friends and family over for a turkey meal.  So please take the necessary precautions while cooking and enjoy your Holidays.   If you run into an unexpected disaster please contact Miller & Wynn.  Our locally-based attorneys, Mike Miller and Christopher L. Wynn have decades of experience.  Contact us for a free consultation at 770-942-2720 or visit www.MillerWynnLaw.com.