Grease, cooking fires can ruin Thanksgiving

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 21, 2010

More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. With the popularity of turkey frying increasing, U.S. fire departments are responding to more than 1,000 fires each year in which a deep fryer is involved.

The National Fire Protection Association says deep fryer fires cause an average of five deaths, 60 injuries and more than $15 million in property damage each year.

Most turkey fryer fires are preventable. Recognizing common mistakes is a critical step in reducing your risk of a fire or potentially fatal burns.

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— Too much oil in the fryer pot — If the cooking pot is overfilled, the oil may spill out of the pot when the turkey is lowered in. Follow the owner’s manual to determine the proper amount of oil to use.

— Dropping a frozen or partially thawed turkey into oil — Frozen or partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can cause a spillover and may result in a fire. Make sure your turkey is properly thawed and slowly lower it into the pot to prevent oil from splashing.

— Fryer is too close to structures — More than one-third of fires involving a fryer start in a garage or patio. Cook outdoors and away from flammables.

— Oil and water don’t mix — Do not use ice or water to cool down oil or extinguish an oil fire. Keep an extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fire nearby and immediately call 911 for help.

— Unattended cooking — Frying involves cooking with a combustible medium, namely the cooking oil or grease. Many frying units do not have thermostat controls and, if left unwatched, the oil will continue to heat until the point of combustion.

If you are planning to fry a turkey on Thanksgiving Day please take the necessary steps to ensure your families’ Thanksgiving dinner is not ruined by a fire. May you and your families have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Stuart Heflin is a State Farm Insurance agent in Natchez.