How to safely fry a turkey

Here’s the thing. Deep frying isn’t the safest way to cook a turkey. Just ask any firefighter or emergency-room worker who has treated someone with third- or fourth-degree burns after an unfortunate accident.

“We’ve had some severe burns, I mean life-long burns,” said Phoenix Fire Captain Rob McDade. “Luckily, we haven’t had any fatalities in the last ten years from those but we’ve had injuries associated with them. Arms, hands, face – it’s just dangerous. You’ve got super heated oil and an active flame.”

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Experts said the best scenario is buy a fried turkey from a grocery store, restaurant or speciality food retailer or at least choose one of the new, oil-less turkey fryers.

“Turkey deep frying kinda got popular maybe four or five years ago,” said Brian Scholl, an inspector with the Phoenix Fire Department. “I’ve done it a few times as well, but I’ve switched to the oil-less one just because of that issue with the oil.”

Frying turkeys safely in oil lies in the preparation. Mesa and Phoenix firefighters give these tips:

• Only cook a fresh or completely unthawed turkey. Stay away from frozen turkeys.
• Take the turkey to a wide-open spot, away from anything flammable. A carport, garage or any enclosed area is not the place to fry a turkey.
• Keep the turkey in its bag, and place it in your frying pot.
• Fill the pot with water and stop before the water overfills.
• Mark that spot, empty the water, and remove the turkey.
• Fill your pot with that same amount of oil, bring to a boil.
• This method prevents boiling oil spilling over when the turkey is placed into the pot. Make sure your turkey is dry before doing so. Any water will make the oil boil over, hitting the flame.
• Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
• Keep children and pets away from the fryer.