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Thanksgiving Turkey Fryer Safety Tips

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DETROIT (WWJ) - Fall is in full swing and football season is well underway with tailgating and outdoor cooking taking over parking lots and backyards everywhere. And increasingly, this enthusiasm for outdoor feasting extends to Thanksgiving dinner and right through the year.

According to the National Turkey Federation, in 2010, almost 46-million turkeys were consumed. Combining a passion for the outdoors and sporting events, deep frying a bird in an outdoor cooker or turkey fryer has become as popular as grilling for many Americans.

Before attempting to cook these moist, tasty and crispy delights, users should be aware that the use of outdoor gas appliances could also pose a risk of fire or injury if not used carefully and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

CSA International, a testing and certification provider for gas-fired products, offers users of turkey fryers the following safety tips to help ensure their autumn and Thanksgiving is a bounty of happy, healthy and hearty memories:

Before You Begin

• Read and carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions and be aware of all warnings.

• When purchasing a turkey fryer, make sure it carries the mark of an accredited certification agency, such as the CSA International Blue Star indicating that it meets applicable national standards.

• To avoid overheating of the liquid propane cylinder, ensure it is located as far away as practical (depending on the length of hose provided) from the fryer burner. Situate the fuel tank and fryer so that any wind will blow the heat from the fryer away from the tank.

• Turkey fryers should only be used outdoors and at least three metres (10 feet) from structures – including garages, carports and overhangs – vehicles, and combustible materials.

• Always use a turkey fryer on a level, stable, non-combustible surface, and never on a wooden deck or any structure that can catch fire. Be sure to use only the pot that came with the outdoor cooker and that it is centered directly over the burner.

Turkey Frying Time

• Never cook a partially or fully frozen turkey! A frozen turkey can cause the oil to splatter and boil over, posing a potential risk of fire and burn injuries. Prior to cooking, turkeys should be thawed in a refrigerator at least 24 hours for every five pounds of bird.

• Dry the turkey before putting it in the oil. Pay special attention to drying the cavity of the bird as it has the greatest potential for water or ice to accumulate. Avoid marinades that may react with the hot fryer oil.

• When filling the pot with oil, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and never over-fill the turkey fryer. This can cause the oil to overflow posing a potential risk of ignition from the burner flame.

• Never heat the oil above 200°C (400°F) and always use the thermometer supplied with the turkey fryer to measure the oil temperature. Check oil temperature frequently. If the oil begins to smoke, turn gas to ‘off’.

• Use well-insulated oven mitts when touching a pot lid, handles or when adding or removing food to prevent the risk of burn injuries.

• Slowly lower the turkey into hot oil with caution, being careful to avoid any overflow.

• Never leave a turkey fryer unattended.

• Young children and pets should be kept away from the area where turkey fryers are being used, even after use.

Registered Nurse Lisa Bradt warns that not precautions can result in severe burns. If you are injured by hot oil or a grease fire, Bradt says run cool water over the affected area.

“…to prevent the tissue from continuing to burn. Never…put…butter…on…a burn — which we see quite frequently. And, cover it and just come to the emergency room,” Bradt told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Pat Sweeting.

Stopping the burn is critical. If a large area of skin is involved, Bradt says to cover it with a cool, wet cloth like a T-shirt or dish towel and seek medical care.  If there’s an emergency, always dial 9-1-1.  If not, you can reach a Detroit Medical Center (DMC) nurse 24/7 at 1 (888) DMC-2500 or 1 (888) 362-2500.

Alert: Fire!

• If any portion of the turkey fryer catches fire, do not attempt to extinguish or fight the fire. Immediately remove all people from the vicinity of the turkey fryer, and contact the fire department or 9-1-1. Do not attempt to extinguish fire with water!

Calling It A Day

• Never move the pot or drain the oil from the pot until the oil has cooled to a temperature of 45°C (115°F) or less.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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