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Heads up, frequent fryers: Thanksgiving is the worst day for kitchen infernos

Nov. 23, 2022 Updated Wed., Nov. 23, 2022 at 2:52 p.m.

Thanksgiving is the No. 1 day of the year for cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.  (Jason Kempin/Getty Images North America/TNS)
Thanksgiving is the No. 1 day of the year for cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By Alexis Stevens Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA – If the National Fire Protection Association were writing this story, it’d probably go like this: Don’t fry a whole turkey on Thursday if you don’t know what you’re doing. The end.

Thanksgiving is the No. 1 day of the year for cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve, the association says. More than three times the average number of cooking infernos happen when Thanksgiving goes up in flames. The frying game is particularly fraught: deep fryer fires cause an average of five deaths and 60 injuries a year and do more than $15 million in property damage, according to the NFPA.

“No matter how many years you’ve been cooking, or how many Thanksgiving feasts you’ve served, you still need to make safety your main ingredient,” Henry County (Georgia) Fire Marshall Michael Black said.

Turkey fryers should be handled with care because of the intense heat, experts warn. They can also tip over, spilling the hot oil.

Putting a partially frozen turkey into a hot fryer is a particularly bad idea, as that can cause oil to splatter. Come Thursday, should you decide you’ll fry if you want to, experts advise these safety tips.

1. Place the fryer outside on a flat surface that can’t burn, such as concrete, and several feet away from anything that can ignite.

2. Thaw the turkey completely before cooking.

3. Don’t let children or pets come anywhere near it. An adult should watch the fryer while it cooks.

4. Use a fryer with thermostat controls.

5. Use potholders and oven mitts when handling the turkey.

Even if you take the safer route and stand by your pan, safety’s still important. Experts advise these tips for ensuring a safe holiday.

1. Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop and keep an eye on the food.

2. Stay inside the home when cooking your turkey, and check on it frequently.

3. Keep children away from the stove, hot foods and liquids (and candles and lit fireplaces, of course)

4. Make sure smoke alarms work.

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