How to fry your Thanksgiving turkey safely

Orange County Fire Rescue gives Local 6 a demonstration

Author: Julie Broughton, Weather
Published On: Nov 20 2013 06:22:15 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 20 2013 07:35:46 PM EST
Thanksgiving, turkey, holiday, Christmas
ORLANDO, Fla. -

A popular way to cook your holiday turkey can also be dangerous.

Turkey fryers caused an estimated 900 house fires and five deaths nationwide last year, according to Orange County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Jon M. Haskett.

"It's something they probably don't do all that much, maybe once a year. It's a very dangerous thing to do when you're dealing with a large vat of oil. I think maybe they just don't know how dangerous it is."

Firefighters invited Local 6 to a demonstration to see just how quickly a fire can spread. The oil heats to around 350 degrees. A common mistake is attempting to fry a bird that is not fully thawed.

"Because it's frozen, the water that's in the turkey will expand. When water goes to vapor it can expand up to 1700 times, and you can get a large flame from it."

Filling the oil too high, causing it to overflow and come into contact with the flame is also a common mistake. Chief Haskett reminds you to take into account the size of the bird, and remember it will displace the oil. If you do notice the oil is too high, the chief says removed the turkey, turn off the flame, and empty some of the oil after it cools.

Always use a fryer outdoors and not on a covered porch or carport. A fire can spread quickly.

"Seconds. It happens fast," he said.

The correct way to fry a turkey is to lower it slowly into the vat.  The chief says never leave a fryer unattended, and keep a dry chemical extinguisher nearby.