Don’t deep-fry yourself or your home with a turkey fryer

November 22, 2011

Aficionados agree that deep-frying a turkey is the best way to prepare the most flavorful and moist version of the traditional centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal.  Serafino Alfe was deep-frying turkeys for an annual fundraiser dinner recently and ended up at the Loyola Burn unit with third-degree burns -- the worst kind -- on his leg.

“I tripped and fell right into the deep fryer,” the Mount Prospect resident said. “Thirty quarts of hot poured over my leg and I basically fried myself."

In the United States, more than 141 serious fires and hot-oil burns have been reported from the use of turkey fryers over the last decade, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Alfe said he has used a deep fryer for many years and is always careful. “We put the deep fryers on cardboard and I caught my shoe on the edge and just lost my balance,” said Alfe, who will undergo surgery on his injured leg on the day before Thanksgiving.  “We were using the older fryers that do not have a secure lid and the gallons of hot oil just splattered out everywhere."

Taking care to not become a victim of a fire and serious burns applies equally inside the home on Day, the leading day for cooking fires, with three times as many as on an average day, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

“Cooking remains a major mechanism of injuries for adults, and for children who are underfoot,” said Richard L. Gamelli, MD, director, Burn & Shock Trauma Institute of Loyola University Health System and provost and senior VP of the Health Sciences Division of Loyola University Chicago. Loyola’s Burn Center is one of the busiest in the Midwest, treating nearly 600 patients annually in the hospital and another 3,500 patients each year in its clinic. More than 40 percent of the burn cases are children.

“If a turkey fryer is used the way it’s supposed to be used by people who are not impaired by alcohol or drugs, I think they’re fine,” said Dr. Thomas Esposito, chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “Injuries from turkey fryers are rare, but when they happen to you or a family member, that doesn’t matter – they are very devastating."

If you’re planning to use a turkey fryer, Esposito said safety tips to heed include:

• Look for the newer fryers with sealed lids to prevent oil spills
• Keep the fryer in full view while the burner is on
• Keep children and pets away from the cooking area
• Place the fryer in an open area away from all walls, fences or other structures
• Never use the fryer in, on or under a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, deck or any other structure that can catch fire
• Slowly raise and lower the turkey to reduce hot-oil splatter and to avoid burns
• Never cook in short sleeves, shorts or bare feet. Cover all bare skin when dunking or removing bird
• Protect your eyes with goggles or glasses
• Immediately turn off the fryer if the oil begins to smoke
• Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don’t mix and water can cause oil to spill over, creating a fire or even an explosion
• Don’t overfill the fryer with oil. Turkey fryers can ignite in seconds after oil hits the burner
• Keep a fire extinguisher appropriate for oil fires close at hand and be familiar with how to operate it
• Do not use a hose in an attempt to douse a turkey fryer fire
• If you do burn yourself, or someone else is burned, seek immediate medical attention

Also keep in mind that each year $15 million in property damage is caused by deep fryer fires in the United States.

“It doesn’t matter if it is a turkey fryer or a conventional oven, you should always take great care when using appliances, vehicles and any other device that has the potential to cause great harm to yourself and others if used in a careless, irresponsible manner,” Esposito said.

Explore further: Avoiding nasty germs and flaming turkeys on Thanksgiving

Related Stories

Avoiding nasty germs and flaming turkeys on Thanksgiving

November 15, 2011
People like to gripe about overly dry turkey on Thanksgiving. But nothing’s worse than a bird that goes up in flames.

Tips for battling a deadly heat wave

July 19, 2011
Forecasters are predicting this week’s heat wave to be one of the hottest this summer. A Loyola physician is available to comment on staying safe.

Children's hospital at vanderbilt urges parents to guard against extreme heat

July 14, 2011
With indexes as high as 110 degrees this week in Middle Tennessee, doctors at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt are asking parents to remain vigilant against hyperthermia and other heat-related illnesses.

Tips for a healthy, happy Halloween

October 20, 2011
Ghosts and goblins, vampires and werewolves, haunted houses and hayrides. Though Halloween is all about being scared silly, the shock from stepping on the scale after pilfering through the collected candy could turn your ...

Recommended for you

High-fat diet in pregnancy can cause mental health problems in offspring

July 21, 2017
A high-fat diet not only creates health problems for expectant mothers, but new research in an animal model suggests it alters the development of the brain and endocrine system of their offspring and has a long-term impact ...

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Skepticus
not rated yet Nov 22, 2011
There is no stopping careless people from killing themselves, no matter how much others try to educate them. There is always some with no self-preservation instincts whatsoever, and never think about what they work with. Good riddance. It makes the gene pool better.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.