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Avoid a Deep-Fried Disaster on Turkey Day

Deep-fried turkeys are a tasty source of satisfaction for thousands of Americans every Thanksgiving. In some cases, though, they're also a source of fires, property damage and spectacularly unnerving Internet videos. (If you don’t believe us, just try entering the phrase "deep-fried disaster" into a search engine.)

Fortunately, you'll have no fear of frying as long as you follow some expert advice.

A recipe for safety

Using sources that range from the National Turkey Federation to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, has compiled a list of safety tips for deep frying a turkey. So grab your apron and pay attention:

Breaking the ice

Make sure to thaw your turkey completely and pat the skin dry before cooking. Any water droplets or pieces of ice that fall into the hot oil can cause a splash, and hot oil + splash = trouble.

For deep-fried turkeys, the recommended size is no more than 12 pounds. A frozen 12-pound bird should thaw in the refrigerator for three days.

Avoid overfill

The key to preventing spills is using the right amount of oil. recommends following these steps to get the correct level:

  • Put your turkey in the empty pot.
  • Fill the pot with water until the water covers the turkey with half an inch to spare.
  • Remove the turkey and mark the water level. That level shows how much oil you'll need to use.

Choose the right oil

Because you'll be cooking at high temperatures, use an oil with a high smoke-point such as peanut, corn, canola or sunflower.

Clothes make the cook

Wear a long-sleeved shirt and/or jacket to minimize the amount of bare skin around the fryer. Also, wear oven mitts or use pot holders when you're lowering the bird in or lifting it out.

How done is done enough?

When you remove the turkey to check the internal temperature with a food thermometer, look for a temperature of 165-170 degrees in the breast and 175-180 degrees in the thigh.

General precautions

  • Keep your fuel tank at least 2 feet from the fryer.
  • Never try to fry a turkey indoors, on a porch or under a carport.
  • Don't leave the fryer unattended for any amount of time.
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher close by. Putting water on a grease fire will only cause the oil to splatter.

Make every season a safe one

If you're interested in all-purpose safety advice, your home security provider can offer a list of tips to use year-round.

Americans consumed an estimated 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving last year, and it doesn't look like we'll lose our appetite anytime soon. If you plan to enjoy a turkey of the fried variety this year, be safe — and give danger the bird.

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