Published: Nov 26, 2013 3:58 PM EST
Updated: Nov 26, 2013 6:55 PM EST

CAPE CORAL, Fla.- Cape Coral firefighters conducted a demonstration this afternoon on the dangers of frying a turkey improperly.

Firefighters showed the catastrophic effects of attempting to improperly fry a turkey, as well as the right way. Firefighters also demonstrated the proper way to manage a fire involving a turkey fryer.

According to the National Fire Protection Association from 2007-2011, unattended cooking was the leading contributing factor in home fires. Two-thirds (67 percent) of home cooking fires are started with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.

In addition:

  • More than half (55 percent) of reported non-fatal home cooking fire injuries occurred when the victims tried to fight the fire themselves.
  • Frying poses the greatest risk of fire and Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires.
  • Many units easily tip over, spilling the hot oil from the cooking pot.
  • If the cooking pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill out of the unit when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may hit the burner or flames, causing a fire to engulf the entire unit.
  • Partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can cause a spillover effect. This too may result in an extensive fire.
  • With no thermostat controls, the units also have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion.
  • The lid and handles on the sides of the cooking pot get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.

If you are going to use a turkey fryer, the Cape Coral Fire Department strongly encourages everyone use the following tips:

  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other flammable materials.
  • Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.
  • Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot hours after use.
  • To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water do not mix, and water causes oil to spill over causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
  • The National Turkey Federation (NTF) recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds in weight.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If the fire is manageable, use your all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call the fire department for help.