Firemen are twice as busy on Thanksgiving than any normal day.  A lot of that is due to kitchen fires, but also the popularity of deep-frying turkeys.  State of Michigan Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer talked with Tim Collins on the WBCK Morning Show.

When deep-frying the holiday bird, Sehlmeyer said:

  • Always use the portable deep fryer on a flat surface, well away from houses, garages, decks, trees, bushes and other outdoor hazards.
  • Make sure your turkey is completely thawed and dry the turkey prior to putting in the fryer. Extra water or placing a frozen turkey in the fryer will cause the cooking oil to bubble and spill over.
  • Keep children and pets away from the portable deep fryer.
  • Allow at least two (2) feet of space between the liquid propane tank and the portable deep fryer burner.
  • Do not overfill the portable deep fryer with cooking oil that can result in the overflow of the cooking oil and a flash fire when immersing the turkey into the cooking oil. Fire Marshall Sehlmeyer recommended using water before you start and measuring just how much liquid (oil) will be needed.
  • Be careful with marinades. Cooking oil and water do not mix and water causes the cooking oil to spill over, causing a fire or even an explosion hazard during cooking oil boil over.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts as the deep fryer lid and handle can become very hot; wear safety goggles to protect eyes from cooking oil splatter.
  • If the cooking oil begins to smoke, immediately turn the propane tank to OFF by closing the propane tank valve.
  • Have a plan to get the cooked turkey out of the hot oil safely.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher (dry-powder) ready at all times. NEVER use water to extinguish a cooking oil or grease fire.

Fire Marshall Sehlmeyer also offered general safety tips for the kitchen:

  • Start with a clean stove and oven. Remove food and grease buildup from burners, stovetop, and oven.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove to prevent pot tipping by young children or catching on loose clothing.
  • Wear short sleeves or roll sleeves up, so not to catch your clothing on fire during cooking.
  • Set timers to keep track of turkeys and other foods that require extended cooking times.
  • Turn off the stove if you must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time.
  • Keep children away from cooking areas; do not hold children while cooking.
  • Keep kitchen clutter, potholders, towels, and food wrappers well away from the stove, candles and other open flames.
  • Keep a pan lid or cookie sheet nearby; always use an oven mitt.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  • Have working smoke alarms in the home and have an escape plan the entire family knows. Have two (2) ways out if a fire occurs.