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By Granville Morse, MD
There are so many ways to cook a turkey for the holidays, but most can say without a doubt fried turkey is one of our favorites. What’s better than crispy turkey?! Whether you are a seasoned pro or new to turkey frying, you need to make sure you are using extreme safety around the fryer. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments responded to over 1,500 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving in 2016. While the NFPA recommends avoiding a turkey fryer altogether, if you do use a turkey fryer on Thanksgiving or other holidays, we recommend following these six steps to help protect you, your home and your guests.
- ALWAYS wear protective gear to protect your hands, body and face. Oil splatters like crazy when frying food. Even getting a little bit on your hand can have serious effects. The oil is heated to extreme temperatures and can cause extremely painful burns. We suggest wearing oven mitts, an apron and safety glasses.
- Always cook outside in the open. NEVER deep fry your turkey inside your house or garage. While it may be chilly on Thanksgiving, safety should always be your top priority. Once you get warm food in your belly, you will forget all about the cold.
- Always use a thawed, dry turkey. Water and oil DO NOT mix. When water hits the hot oil, it will cause the oil to bubble like crazy. You want to ensure that your turkey is completely free of any water before putting it in the oil.
- When lowering your turkey into the fryer, use a long utensil to avoid getting your hands too close to the oil. Lower the turkey at a very slow rate, pausing if you need to.
- CONSTANTLY monitor the temperature of your oil. Oil can quickly become overheated, so you want to make sure you have a food thermometer monitoring the temperature. Remember that the lid and thermometer will be very hot as well so always use mitts to handle these items
- Be prepared with a fire extinguisher. If a fire does occur, turn off the gas immediately, and put out the fire with an extinguisher. DO NOT use water to put out the fire.
Don’t make your Thanksgiving memorable for the wrong reasons. If you do fry a turkey this holiday season, make sure your guests are nowhere near your fryer and follow our steps to keep your night safe. If a fire or injury occurs, call 911 immediately. For small or minor burns and cuts, visit your nearest Ochsner Urgent Care.