Fried turkey a Thanksgiving fire hazard, officials warn

Fried turkey a Thanksgiving fire hazard, officials warn

Frying turkey has been gaining in popularity, but with Thanksgiving only a few days away, officials are once again warning of the fire hazard this trending method can bring.

Known for its roots in the South, deep-fried turkey has been touted by famous chefs as a quick way to cook a flavorful turkey. Roberta Gorman, a structural fire prevention program manager with the National Park Service (NPS), points out that frying is more dangerous than other types of cooking, however, because it involves using a large quantity of cooking oil, a combustible substance.

Research from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) indicates that Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, with more than three times the daily average of incidents occurring on Thanksgiving. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day rank second and third, with both having nearly two times the daily average.


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On Thanksgiving Day alone in 2021, an estimated 1,160 home cooking fires were reported to U.S. fire departments, which is a 297 percent increase over the daily average.

If you are thinking about deep-frying your Thanksgiving turkey this year, here’s what you should know.

Should I use an outdoor, gas-fueled fryer?

The NFPA does not recommend the use of outdoor, gas-fueled turkey fryers because it can lead to “destructive burns, damage to property and other injuries.”

Underwriters Laboratories, which certifies safe products, does not certify this type of product with its label, according to the NPS.

Open-flame fryers are discouraged for the following reasons:

  • Turkey fryers tip easily, causing spills that ignite the oil.

  • Overfilling the fryer is common, which can cause oil to spill out of the pot when the turkey is placed on the fryer, engulfing the whole unit in flames.

  • The oil is prone to overheating because of no thermostat controls.

  • The handles and lid get extremely hot, which can lead to severe burns.

  • Rain or snow can fall on the unit, which splatters the oil and converts water into scalding steam.

What safety tips should I follow?

If you do plan on cooking a turkey for the whole family, regardless of method, here are some safety tips from the NFPA that you should follow:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove so you can keep an eye on the food.

  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey, and check on it frequently.

  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot, and kids should stay three feet away.

  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.

  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.

  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.

  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.

  • Never leave children alone in a room with a lit candle.

  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.

  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

For more specific safety tips regarding the use of outdoor turkey fryers, click here.

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