Talkin' (fried) turkey: The Austin Fire Department and Bill Shatner teach youturkey fryer safety
Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and it's a wonderful time to enjoy the company of others. Most of us will be sitting around dining room tables and feasting with family and loved ones. Others will likely spend time in the emergency room after nearly burning off their eyebrows in a grease fire.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, more cooking fires occur in the U.S. on Thanksgiving Day than on any other day of the year. Many of the more serious incidents occur due to the increasing popularity of turkey fryers used for deep-frying holiday birds. According to last year's report, fire departments across the country respond to 1,000 fires a year in which a deep fryer is involved. The NFPA says that deep fryers cause an average of five deaths, 60 injuries and more that $15 million in property damage each year.
It’s because of these statistics that the Austin Fire Department provided a live demonstration at the H-E-B Plus on Riverside Monday to show what happens when proper safety precautions are not taken when deep-frying a turkey. They showed the results of the two primary oversights that lead to danger: too much oil in the fryer and dropping in a frozen or partially thawed turkey.
Two fully equipped AFD firefighters showed how spectacularly dangerous unsafe frying techniques can be. Immediately after dropping in a frozen turkey, the oil erupted as flames leapt nearly ten feet into the air. The sudden burst of flames show that, even if outside, it is important to keep the fryer a far enough distance from any structures to prevent them from catching fire.
Secondly, when the firemen dropped the partially thawed turkey into the fryer, the water instantly vaporized and sprayed hot oil out of the pot, igniting on the open flames. This is the case with frozen, partially thawed or even just wet turkeys. Under controlled conditions, the explosion is admittedly pretty awesome, but the resulting damage to person and property is definitely not the best way to spend a Thanksgiving.
Firefighters also demonstrated both the improper and proper ways to deal with a fire started from the oil in a turkey fryer. The most important thing to remember is NOT to use water to put out the fire. Like with any other grease fire, water will just cause the oil to splash and spread the fire further.
Fire extinguishers (preferably Class K) are the most reliable means of containing the flames. Even if you have one on hand, still call 911 immediately and have the professionals take care of it. In the meantime, make sure that everyone has been moved a safe distance from the fryer while you wait for the fire department to arrive.
Texas ranks first for Thanksgiving cooking and grease fires, and with fried turkeys becoming more and more popular due to time-saving convenience, the NFPA and local fire departments have become more focused on educating the public on the dangers of improperly frying turkeys.
If these lessons are still not getting through to you, maybe State Farm Insurance and William Shatner can convince you with a little added drama.
Have a happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and please enjoy your turkey responsibly.