Many South Carolinians are looking forward to a uniquely Southern Thanksgiving dish - the fried turkey. While fried turkey tastes great and presents an opportunity for holiday socializing, the increased popularity of frying turkeys in the backyards of South Carolina homes has created an increased danger for homeowners.
Each year, nearly 4,300 fires occur in the United States on Thanksgiving Day causing 15 fatalities, about 50 injuries and nearly $27 million in property damage according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Thanksgiving Day fires in residential structures cause more property damage and claim more lives than residential structure fires on other days. Cooking is by far the leading cause of residential structure fires on Thanksgiving Day (42%), nearly double that of a normal day. The dollar loss per incident rises 25 percent on Thanksgiving Day.
Fires related to the use of turkey fryers have been known to cause property damage, injuries and even deaths as house fire and splashing of hot oil occurs. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, from 1999 until November 14, 2006, there have been 119 incidents involving fires or burns associated with turkey fryers in the United States. The majority of incidents involved overheating and subsequent ignition of oil while the consumer was not present.
Overall, cooking fires are the leading cause of household fires and home fire injuries according to the National Fire Protection Association. Food left cooking unattended is the primary cause of these fires. Tests have shown that many turkey fryers have a risk of tipping over, overheating, or spilling hot oil, leading to fires and burns.
"Many turkeys are overcooked during Thanksgiving, and frying a turkey is a great way to keep the cooking outdoors," said Rob Keck, CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation based in Edgefield, South Carolina. "By following the manufacturer’s directions and safety tips, frying a turkey can be a safe way to cook your Thanksgiving bird."
As preparations for Thanksgiving get underway, the South Carolina Insurance News Service recommends the following safety tips for frying turkeys:
(Sources: Underwriters Laboratories Inc., National Turkey Federation and National Fire Protection Association)
For more information on preventing home fires, contact the South Carolina Insurance News Service or link to their web site at www.scinsnews.com.
For 30 years, the South Carolina Insurance News Service, a nonprofit organization, has been providing free insurance information to consumers and the media about property and casualty insurance issues. The News Service is funded by insurance companies doing business in South Carolina.