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Farm Bureau Insurance Safety Alert: Turkey Fryer Safety


Southern cooks have been deep frying turkey for years. Thanks to some popular celebrity chefs, juicy deep fried turkey is now a popular tradition across America, especially at Thanksgiving. Recipes have even gone as far as the famed Turducken, which is a chicken wrapped in a duck, stuffed in a turkey. Whatever your taste, if a tasty deep fried holiday bird is in your plans, keep in mind that while it can be a very social and fun time with friends and family, it can also be very dangerous.

“The cardinal rule with turkey fryers is to never leave it unattended,” says Jimmy Maass, safety coordinator at Virginia Farm Bureau. “Many dangers associated with turkey fryers are due to consumer misuse or inattentiveness, and really, it is a two-person job. To prevent the risk of a tip over, overheating, or spilling hot oil that could lead to fire and severe burns, it’s important that turkey fryers be used under close supervision and with extreme caution.”

Farm Bureau Insurance urges anyone planning to use a turkey fryer this holiday season to keep in mind the following safety tips provided by Underwriting Laboratories, (UL):

•Turkey fryers should be used outdoors a safe distance from buildings and other material that can burn.
• Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks or in garages, or in any covered area.
• Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
• Keep the gas supply a safe distance from the fryer, and if the oil begins to smoke, immediately turn the supply off.
• Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you don’t watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
• Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use. Even after use, never allow them near the turkey fryer. The oil inside 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. The sides and handles of a fryer become very hot. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
• Make sure the turkey is completely thawed. The National Turkey Federation recommends 24 hours of thawing for every five pounds of bird before cooking in a turkey fryer.
• Be careful with marinades. Oil and water don’t mix, and water causes oil to spill over, causing fire or even an explosion hazard.
• Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. Remember to use your best judgment when attempting to fight a fire. If the fire is manageable, use an all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call 9-1-1 for help.

Additionally, the Consumer Product Safety Council recommends consumers follow these safety guidelines as they prepare to use a turkey fryer:

• Make sure there is at least 2 feet of space between the liquid propane tank and fryer burner.
• Place the liquid propane gas tank and fryer so that any wind blows the heat of the fryer away from the gas tank.
• Center the pot over the burner on the cooker.
• Completely thaw and dry turkey before cooking. Partially frozen and/or wet turkeys can produce excessive hot oil splatter when added to the oil.
• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the proper amount of oil to add. If those are not available:
o Place turkey in pot
o Fill with water until the turkey is covered by about 1/2 inch of water
o Remove and dry turkey
o Mark water level. Dump water, dry the pot, and fill with oil to the marked level

Finally, keep in mind that while using a turkey fryer can be a fun and tasty way to prepare your holiday meal, safety organizations including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the American Burn Association (ABA) discourage the use of turkey fryers, along with Underwriting Laboratories (UL). Don’t be mislead by some packaging, there may be parts to a turkey fryer that are UL certified, but not the entire appliance.

“Based on our test findings, the fryers used to produce those great tasting birds are not worth the risks. And, as a result of these tests, UL has decided not to certify any turkey fryers with our trusted UL Mark,” said John Drengenberg, Consumer Affairs Manager with UL.

About Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance
Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance is committed to providing products that best meet the insurance needs of Virginia’s families and small businesses. An organization with more than 148,000 members, served by more than 100 county offices throughout the Commonwealth, Farm Bureau Insurance also offers a wide range of financial planning products and services. Visit Virginia Farm Bureau at


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