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Deep-Frying A Turkey? Heed These Safety Tips

(STMW) -- Secure those lids, wear protective clothing and most of all, pay attention. These are just a few of the safety tips a local burn surgeon is offering this Thanksgiving to anyone deep-frying a turkey, and a local man is sharing the story of his own mishap as a caution to others.

"I have actually cared for a patient who tried to deep fry the turkey indoors, which absolutely should not be done in any circumstances," said Arthur Sanford, MD, a burn surgeon at Loyola University Health System. "And I cannot stress enough that the turkey must be moisture–free. A frozen turkey in hot oil is a recipe for tragedy."

Chicago area resident Serafino Alfe ended up at Loyola's burn center the day before Thanksgiving in 2011, after an accident while deep-frying turkeys for a fundraiser dinner left him with third-degree burns, according to the hospital.

"I tripped and fell right into the deep fryer," Alfe said. "Thirty quarts of hot oil poured over my leg and I basically fried myself."

Alfe said he had used a deep fryer many times before, but that the device was older and did not have a secure lid.

"We put the deep fryers on cardboard and I caught my shoe on the edge and just lost my balance," said Alfe.

The trend of deep-frying turkey has sparked a rise in cooking injuries, according to Loyola, whose Burn Center is one of the busiest in the Midwest.

"It is easy to get distracted and injuries can occur in a flash," said Sanford, who recommends these safety tips to anyone planning to fry a turkey this holiday:

  • Use newer fryers with sealed lids, and keep the fryer in full view while the burner is on. And save the cocktails for later -- drinking while cooking can lead to accidents.
  • Keep children and pets away from the cooking area, and put the fryer in an open area away from walls, fences, garages, porches or other structures that can catch fire.
  • Wear long sleeves, pants and shoes, along with goggles or glasses to protect against splashes of hot oil. Make sure the turkey is dry and fully thawed, and slowly raise and lower it into the fryer to reduce splatter.
  • Don't overfill that fryer with oil -- turkey fryers can ignite in seconds after oil hits the burner. Keep a fire extinguisher handy and never use a hose to douse a turkey fryer fire.
  • Be careful about what marinades are used. Oil and water mixtures can cause oil to spill over, create a fire or even and explosion.

"Too many people spend Thanksgiving in the burn center or the emergency department when they should be home with their loved ones," Sanford said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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