Be safe when frying your Thanksgiving turkey

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November 21, 2006

Frying a Thanksgiving turkey is popular, but if you don't do it the right way, it can be dangerous.

The US Fire Administration reports several thousand fires every Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving fires cause more than a dozen deaths across the country.

News 12 is On Your Side with how to keep the flames from spreading to your home.

Flames leaping several feet from the fryer.

Battalion Chief Danny Kuhlmann says this is the end result of a comedy of common errors, starting with when you buy the turkey. Not enough thaw time causes a dangerous reaction.

"Ice or cold water in hot grease will actually cause it to explode," he told us.

So if you defrost it in water, make sure it has enough time to dry.

Water isn't the only liquid fueling the fire. Some people go a little crazy with the oil, heating it above 350 degrees and pouring it till it reaches the top.

"That's a common mistake with fires, is people have too much oil, and when they set the turkey down, it will boil out."

It's especially likely if you lower your turkey too quickly. And when it happens, the grease spills out right into the fire.

Imagine all this happening indoors...even in your garage.

"If you do have a boil-over and the grease catches fire, there will be a fireball and it could set the house on fire," Chief Kuhlmann said.

So that's the way you don't want to fry your turkey. Here's what you do want to do.

Keep the fryer out in the yard, far away from your house, garage, and wooden deck. Make sure the turkey is thawed, then measure how much oil you need. It should be just enough to cover the turkey. You want to heat it no more than 350 degrees.

Lower the turkey slowly so you don't splash any oil, and cook it 3 minutes per pound. Remember, never leave it unattended. And if any oil splashes out, lower the flame.

Make sure you keep one of these handy in case anything catches fire. Remember, water will just make a grease fire worse.

The last thing to keep in mind is it takes oil several hours to cool. So make sure you give it enough time before you clean everything out.