Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
State Fire Marshal urges Michiganders to cook with caution; know the dangers of portable deep fryers and cooking turkeys
Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-373-9280
November 20, 2017 - State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer urges fire safety on Thanksgiving Day, which is the leading day for home cooking fires. Consumers who use portable deep fryers to cook turkeys should know the dangers and consider using the safer, oil-less fryers.
"Unattended cooking is the main cause of residential fires, especially on Thanksgiving when busy cooks can be distracted," said Sehlmeyer. "Never leave cooking unattended, not even for a second. Cooking fires can easily be prevented by following a few simple precautions."
He also emphasized that portable propane fueled turkey fryers, a popular and faster cooking method for your Thanksgiving turkey, poses a considerable fire risk if not done correctly. “Deep frying a turkey in several gallons of hot oil over 350 degrees is as flammable as gasoline if the cooking oil vapors ignite,” said Sehlmeyer. “Never use a portable deep fryer in a garage, on or under a deck, breezeway, porch or inside any structure. Improper use of deep frying of turkeys can be dangerous and accounts for the high number of house and garage fires reported each year.” According to the National Fire Protection Association, portable deep fryers that use oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for acceptably safe use by even well-informed and careful consumers.
Portable deep fryers use a lot of oil and vapor coming off the heated cooking oil is highly combustible. Care must be used to not overfill the cooking oil in a portable deep fryer or you will get splash-back and boil over when immersing the turkey. Grease fires commonly start with cooking oil spilling over the sides of the fryer onto the flames below. Vapors can ignite if the unit is heated beyond its cooking temperature of 350 degrees. If rain or snow hits the hot cooking oil, the cooking oil may splatter or turn to steam that can lead to burns.
Sehlmeyer said oil-less electric or infrared models are much safer methods of cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, provided instructions are followed carefully.
Safety precautions to take when using a portable propane deep fryer include:
Cooking in the kitchen has its own fire risks with stovetops and ovens working overtime, and busy cooks becoming distracted preparing the holiday feast while entertaining guests. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the average number of reported residential fires more than doubles on Thanksgiving Day compared to any other day of the year. Two-thirds (67 percent) of home cooking fires start when food or cooking materials catch on fire. More than half (55 percent) of home cooking fire injuries happened when people tried to fight the fire themselves. “Always keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it,” said Sehlmeyer. “If you don’t know how to use a fire extinguisher, don’t try and fight a fire yourself. Immediately call 9-1-1 in such emergencies and evacuate your family and friends out of the home.”
Cooking fires can easily be prevented by taking a few simple precautions:
Start with a clean stove and oven.
The Bureau of Fire Services wishes everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. Visit the Bureau of Fire Services website at www.michigan.gov/bfs for more fire safety information.