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BSO: Don't "Fowl" When Frying Your Thanksgiving Day Turkey

DAVIE (CBSMiami) - With Thanksgiving day less than a week away, Broward Sheriff's Office officials are urging anyone frying a turkey to take safety precautions so their celebration doesn't turn into tragedy.

Firefighters donned their safety gear Friday at their training center in Davie to demonstrate how quickly a turkey and a fryer filled with oil can start a dangerous fire.

"Thanksgiving is the top day for cooking fires to happen, so it is important to keep safety in mind," said BSO Fire Marshal Robert Arrighetti.

Consumer-grade turkey fryers use a substantial quantity of cooking oil at high temperatures and pose a significant danger.

"The bird cannot be frozen because of the water content, you're just going to have a grease fire and unfortunately, you're going to get burned," said Lt. Robert Sierra of Broward Co. Sheriff Fire Rescue.

The number one rule is never fry a frozen turkey. Make sure it's thawed and dray and that the grease is heated to about 350-degrees.

Even following the proper safety guidelines, grease can splash all over the place and start a small fire which could get out of control. That's why you should wear some kind of safety gear and make sure you have everything you need in case there's trouble like a fire extinguisher and not a hose.

"If you're going to have a garden hose out there, grease fires and water do not mix. You're just going to make the fire larger.  You need to keep it away from your house, do it on a non-combustable surface like concrete or asphalt," explained Lt. Sierra.

Another important thing to remember is that oil remains hot for hours after the unit is turned off.

While they do not encourage novice fryers to operate the machine, they do offer some tips to make sure you and your family are safe.

  • Keep children and pets away from the fryer at all times.
  • Make sure the fryer is positioned on a flat surface so the oil doesn't spill or slosh.
  • Operate the fryer outside, a minimum of 50 feet from any structure or object.
  • Never fry a frozen turkey. Make sure the bird is thoroughly thawed before frying.

According to a recent report published by the U. S. Fire Administration, an estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings occur annually in the U. S., resulting in an estimated average of five deaths, 25 injuries and $21 million in property losses.

If you don't want to risk getting hurt or worse, the best advice is to just buy a prepared turkey.

"If you want to enjoy deep fried turkey leave it to the professionals.  Get it from a restaurant or a grocer, somebody that has a commercial grade fryer that can be done safely," said Mike Jachles of Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue.

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