According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Thanksgiving is the peak for home cooking fires and frying poses the greatest risk of fire. NFPA discourages the use of outdoor propane-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil because of the potential risk of fire and injury.
The United States Fire Administration (USFA) reports that home cooking fires are the leading cause of civilian fire injuries. These fires are preventable by simply being more attentive to the use of cooking materials and equipment.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) also warns that turkey fryers are dangerous to use, presenting numerous safety hazards to consumers. The risk posed is so great that UL has decided not to certify any turkey fryers with the trusted UL Mark.
Turkey Fryer Hazards (UL):
Many units easily tip over, spilling the hot oil from the cooking pot.
If the cooking pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill out of the unit when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may hit the burner or flames, causing a fire to engulf the entire unit.
Partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can cause a spillover effect. This too may result in an extensive fire.
With no thermostat controls, the units also have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion.
The lid and handles on the sides of the cooking pot get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.
Safety Information if You Must Use a Turkey Fryer (UL):
Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other flammable materials.
Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.
Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot hours after use.
To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water do not mix, and water causes oil to spill over causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
The National Turkey Federation (NTF) recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds in weight.
Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If the fire is manageable, use your all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call the fire department for help.