Stand By Your Pan
Neighborhood Safe Neighborhood, #12
by Staff Neighborhood Safety Reporter
Since the colonial American pilgrims gathered in 1621, Thanksgiving has become a tradition to gather with friends and family to honor the harvest season and share our gratitude..
In modern times, it also is the peak day for home cooking fires in the United States! Thanksgiving has more than three times as many cooking fires as any other typical day.
Christmas Day and Christmas Eve ranked second and third, with both having nearly twice the daily average of home fires.
Thanks to celebrity chefs, deep-fried turkey has become increasingly popular across North America. What television and magazine chefs don't mention, however, is the significant danger associated with deep-fat turkey fryers.
Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., an independent product safety testing organization, has decided not to certify ANY turkey fryer.
Fire departments urge consumers to use extreme caution when using turkey fryers when preparing holiday meals due to the dangers frequently associated with the devices. These fryers have a high risk of tipping over, overheating, or spilling hot oil that can lead to fires, burns, or other injuries.
Former Michigan State Fire Marshal, Ronald R. Farr, was quoted: "By simply oven-roasting a turkey the traditional way, or ordering a fried turkey from a grocery store or caterer, who are experienced in deep frying food and use professional-grade frying equipment, consumers can reduce the chance for serious burns and injuries."
If you plan to deep-fry your holiday bird, be sure you know how to safely use the fryer, and take the following precautions to protect yourself, your guests and your home:
__ Watch the weather. Never operate a fryer outdoors in the rain or snow.
__ Only use a fryer with temperature controls, and watch the oil temperature carefully. Cooking oil that is heated beyond its smoke point can catch fire. If you notice the oil is smoking, turn the fryer off.
__ Use oils with high smoke points such as peanut, canola and safflower. If considering using peanut oil, make sure none of your guests have a peanut allergy.
__ Never overfill! To determine how much oil you’ll need, put the turkey in the basket and place in the pot. Add water until it reaches one to two inches above the turkey. Lift the turkey out, and use a ruler to measure the distance from the water to the top of the fryer. This will be the amount of oil you should use. Pour out the water and be sure to completely dry the fryer and the turkey before filling the pot with oil.
__ Consider an oil-less fryer. This uses infrared heat, rather than oil, to cook the turkey.
__ Avoid moving the fryer once it's in use.
__ Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors on a level surface (NOT a deck or in the garage)
__ Leave 2 feet between the tank and the burner when using a propane-powered fryer.
__ Place fryers at least 10 feet from buildings, other structures, trees and any materials that could burn.
__ Choose a smaller turkey for frying. A bird that's 8 to 10 pounds is best.
__ Make sure the turkey is thawed and dry before cooking. Ice or water that mixes into the hot oil can cause flare-ups.
__Skip the stuffing when frying turkey, and avoid water-based marinades.
__ It can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to heat the oil, depending on a number of factors, including outdoor temperature, wind and weather.
__ Turn off the burner before SLOWLY lowering the turkey into the oil. Once the turkey is submerged, turn the burner on.
__ You should maintain an oil temp of 350ºF. At that temperature, fry the turkey for three to four minutes per pound. For a 10-pound turkey, the cook time is approximately 35 minutes.
__ Wear goggles to shield your eyes, use oven mitts to protect your hands and arms. The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles can become dangerously hot, and pose severe burn hazards.
__ Never leave fryers unattended.
__ Keep children and pets away from the fryer at all times.
__ Keep an "ABC" or grease-rated fire extinguisher nearby.
__ Do not use water or a garden hose on a fire related to turkey fryers.
__ Once finished, carefully remove the pot from the burner, place it on a level surface and cover to let the oil cool overnight before disposing.
TRADITIONAL COOKING SAFETY TIPS
Remember, the leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
__If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
__ Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
__ If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stovetop.
__ Use a timer to avoid being distracted.
__ Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stovetop; oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains.
__ Do not wear loose fitting clothing while cooking, and be careful not to reach across a burner at any time. Fashionable garments with fluffy, draping sleeves, or lightweight, sheer materials, can catch fire simply by brushing against a hot burner.
__Turn handles of pots and pans inward so they are not accidentally bumped and so children cannot reach them.
__ Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, pets, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
__ Establish a “no-child-no pet-zone” around the stove of at least 3 feet. Even the steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
__ Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffeemaker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
__ Keep knives out of the reach of children.
__ Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children. Better to keep them up high or in a locked cabinet.
HOW TO FIGHT A KITCHEN FIRE
__ On the stovetop: Put a lid on grease fires. Turn off the burner and smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled. Have a lid for every pan or skillet in case a fire starts.
__ Never try to carry a burning pan outdoors or to the sink. This often results in spilling the liquid and in turn, causes burn injuries and also allows the fire to spread. Remember, put a lid on it.
__ Never use water on oil or grease fires as it will cause the burning liquid to spatter, spreading the fire.
__ For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. This will deprive the fire of oxygen, causing the flame to extinguish on its own. Be sure to have the oven serviced after a fire and before using it in the future.
__ Remember, if your clothes catch on fire, STOP, DROP to the ground, COVER your face, and ROLL around.
__ Keep a fully charged, approved fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen and know how to use it.
However, if the fire is spreading, or if your escape route is in jeopardy of being blocked, get out and stay out. Call 9-1-1 after you leave.
We want everyone to enjoy a safe Thanksgiving!
Additional safety tips can be found on:
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