Outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers cook up juicy turkeys in a fraction of the time it takes to roast one in an indoor oven. However, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) discourages the residential use of turkey fryers because they pose an enormous risk of injury. Outdoor fryers heat gallons of cooking oil to very high temperatures to cook the turkey. The risk of this oil being spilled is significant, and the injuries resulting can be severe.
- The fryers are often bumped or tipped over when the turkey is put in or taken out, presenting a greater risk for the oil to splash or spill. Outdoor fryers that come with a stand pose the greatest risk of tipping.
- The oil is heated to such a high temperature (350o or more) for frying that the vapors could ignite, resulting in a fire. Cooking oil is combustible, and if it is heated beyond its cooking temperature, its vapors can ignite. This is a fire danger separate from the burn danger inherent in the hot oil.
- If you use a turkey fryer during rain or high wind, the risk of injury is increased. When rain hits the hot oil, the oil can splash or turn to steam, which can cause burns.
- Numerous fires have ignited when fryers were moved indoors or into a garage to keep the appliance out of the rain.
- Moving the turkey from the fryer to a serving plate presents another chance of contact with hot oil.
- The approximately 5 gallons of oil in these devices introduce an additional level of hazard to deep fryer cooking, as does the size and weight of the turkey, which must be safely lowered into and raised out of the large quantity of hot oil. Many turkeys are purchased frozen, and they may not be fully thawed when cooking begins. As with a rainy day, a defrosting turkey creates the risk of contact between hot cooking oil.
- There is a new outdoor turkey cooking appliance that does not use oil. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) believes these should be considered as an alternative. NFPA understands that this appliance will be listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
- Never leave oil under heat unattended.
- Never overfill a fryer with oil or food.
- Cool oil before moving it.
For a short film on the hazards of deep frying turkeys see the short video at the link below:
Be aware of the risk of injury associated with turkey fryers. For your own safety, and for the safety of those around you, please follow the manufacturer’s instruction if using a deep fryer.