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How to avoid a Thanksgiving turkey frying disaster

You may be interested in frying a turkey for Thanksgiving this year, but here are some reminders on what not to do.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Many people enjoy frying their turkeys, which can come with added risk.

On Monday morning, the Little Rock Fire Department appeared live on Wake Up Central to demonstrate the proper way to fry a turkey and what can happen when you aren't careful.

"Once you get the grease hot enough, it vaporizes the oils, so those vapors can get down and make contact with the flame, LRFD Capt. Nathan Travis said. "When it does, that's where it flashes. Yout get a flash temperature, so it can make a big ball of flame."

That didn't occur during Monday morning's demonstration at Central Fire Station. However, Travis said that in some scenarios the flash can encompass an area spanning several feet then catch everything around it on fire, including the people that are standing there.

Potential dangers of deep-frying a turkey:

(Source: U.S. Fire Administration)

  • Turkey fryers can easily tip over spilling hot oil across a large area. Use your turkey fryer only outdoors on a sturdy, level surface well away from things that can burn. Make sure to have a “3-foot kid- and pet-free zone” around your turkey fryer to protect against burn injuries.
  • An overfilled cooking pot will cause oil to spill over when the turkey is placed inside. Determine the correct amount of oil needed by first placing the turkey in the pot with water. A partially frozen turkey will cause hot oil to splatter. Make sure your turkey is completely thawed before you fry it.
  • Turkey fryers can easily overheat and start a fire. Check the temperature often with a cooking thermometer so the oil won’t overheat.
  • The pot, lid and handles of a turkey fryer can get dangerously hot and cause burn injuries. Use long cooking gloves that protect hands and arms when you handle these items.

Capt. Travis said that you should make sure it is not snowing or raining when you fry your turkey, as cold precipitation that gets into hot grease can flash up.

"Be careful. Have a great time. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your loved ones, and just make sure you use all the precautions," Capt. Travis said.

Click here for additional Thanksgiving safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association.