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Health and Family Services Cabinet
If Frying a Turkey This Holiday Season, Follow Precautions

Press Release Date:  Friday, November 18, 2005  
Contact Information:  Gwenda Bond or Beth Crace

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 18, 2005) Frying a turkey can be a fun and tasty alternative to the traditional baked and roasted dishes of the holidays. As many start to plan menus, the Department for Public Health (DPH) wants to remind Kentuckians that fryers also can be dangerous when not handled with care.

From 1998 to 2003, the Consumer Product Safety Commission received reports of at least 75 incidents involving fires, flames or burns associated with turkey fryers, multi-use kettle cookers used to deep fry meat in oil. Hazard scenarios have varied from house fires, ignition of oil used in the fryers themselves and burn-causing oil splashes.

“As the use of turkey fryers has increased, so has the number of injuries and accidents associated with them,” said DPH Commissioner William D. Hacker, M.D. “By following a few guidelines and using caution, such circumstances can be avoided.”

The majority of reported incidents occurred while the oil was being heated, prior to adding the turkey. For this reason, it is very important that consumers monitor the temperature of oil closely. If any smoke is noticed coming from heating a pot of oil, the burner should be turned off immediately because the oil is overheated.

Consumers who choose to fry turkeys should always remember to keep the fryer in full view while the burner is on and to place the fryer in an open area away from walls, fences or other structures. Fryers should be used outside and never under a garage, breezeway, carport or any other structure that can catch fire.

It’s also important to keep children and pets away from fryers.
To avoid burns, food should be raised and lowered slowly and bare skin should be covered. It’s also important to check the oil temperature frequently. If the oil should begin to smoke, the gas supply should be turned off immediately.

If a fire occurs, immediately call 911. Do not attempt to extinguish the fire with water.

“Although frying a turkey or other meats can be done safely and effectively, even the most responsible chef can sometimes overlook safety guidelines,” said Guy Delius, assistant director in the division of public health protection and safety. “The Department for Public Health wants to remind users to follow instructions and adhere to these simple principles to avoid accidents and injuries this holiday season.”

Here’s a look at the best way to use a turkey fryer:
· Make sure there is at least two feet of space between the propane tank and fryer burner.
· Place the gas tank and fryer so that wind blows heat from the fryer away from the tank.
· Center the pot over the burner on the cooker.
· Completely thaw (USDA says 24 hours for every four to five pounds) and dry turkey before cooking. Partially frozen and/or wet turkeys can produce excessive hot oil splatter when added to the oil.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the proper amount of oil to add. If those are not available:
· Place turkey in pot.
· Fill with water until the turkey is covered by about one-half inch of water.
· Remove and dry turkey.
· Mark the water level. Dump water, dry the pot and fill with oil to the marked level.

For additional information, visit the CPSC Web site at or call (800) 638-2772. For more information from CHFS, call Mike Cavanah or Tammy Warford, Environmental Management Branch, Department for Public Health at (502) 564-4856.


Last Updated 11/18/2005