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Frying turkeys requires safety precautions

Jennifer Sprouse • Nov 21, 2012 at 9:14 AM

Thoughts of a traditional Thanksgiving include a table filled with many types of food and at the center is typically a turkey that has been cooking in an oven for many hours.

But some turkey entrepreneurs have taken their own twist on the traditional family feast by using a deep-frying method instead of just baking.

Ernie Goudreau, assistant store manager at Lowe’s Home Improvement in Johnson City, said he generally sees a lot of people coming into the store during the holidays inquiring about the deep fryers.

“We have some people that have experience with (deep fryers) ... (and) are actually replacing or upgrading, and then we have a lot of customers who are trying it for the first time, so they have more questions,” Goudreau said. “We do see an increase in traffic in November, getting ready for Thanksgiving and the Christmas season.”

He said that fryer options now include infrared, which doesn’t use oil. He said oil fryers are still bought, though, and all is dependent on the individual customer’s preference.

Goudreau said he’s noticed the popularity behind frying turkeys to be predominately in southern states, and while it’s the unique taste the customer is after, it’s also a faster cooking process.

“When you compare it to cooking a turkey in the oven, it shortens the process a little bit,” he said. “Now the one thing is with a turkey fryer is you have a limitation on the size. Typically, you can’t cook over a 16-pound turkey, just because of the size of the fryer. It won’t physically fit in there, but you’re going to shorten that process anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half, depending on which (fryer) you use.”

And while it might take less time to finish your holiday feast, Goudreau said using any of the fryers does require constant attention.

Johnson City Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Mark Finucane said fires associated with deep fryers have decreased over the years, but there are some general safety tips everyone should follow when using them.

“Never use a fryer on any type of wooden deck, under a covered patio, in a garage or in an enclosed space. Get it out away from the home ... on a sturdy solid level surface,” Finucane said. “Don’t overfill the fryer. That’s probably the biggest culprit.”

He said he’s known people to first put water in the fryer and then set the turkey inside to judge how much oil they can put in to avoid a spillover.

Finucane said other important tips would be to:

n Never leave the fryer unattended.

n Keep children and pets away from the active fryer.

n Let oil cool for a couple of hours before handling.

n Make sure the fryer and thermostat are off and in a safe location when removing the turkey.

n Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before putting it in a fryer.

n If a fire occurs, call 911 immediately.

Finucane said another safety precaution would be to have a fire extinguisher on standby and to check fire safety equipment.

“Make sure your smoke detectors are working, especially around the holiday time,” he said.

For more safety tips, call the JCFD at 975-2840.

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