Holiday Fire Safety: Thanksgiving Edition

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By Tammy Moore Teague

Thanksgiving Day is quickly approaching, and Northwest Scott Fire Chief Donnie Adkins shared some tips to help those who plan to deep fry their turkey. Adkins is a fire safety instructor and offers the following  advice:

The National Fire Protection Association states that nearly four times as many home cooking fires reportedly happen on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. Further, the second-leading day for home cooking fires is the day before Thanksgiving.
1. Prepare a safe space.
First and foremost, scout out a safe area at least ten feet away from your home. Keep the fryer out of garages, decks as well as a safe distance away from buildings, trees and shrubs. Ensure that there will be no bystanders, children or pets within 3 feet once you begin. Having a working fire extinguisher nearby is wise, too.
When you’re ready to thaw the turkey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends getting an early start: For every 4-5 lbs., let it sit out for at least 24 hours. Frozen or wet turkeys can cause hot oil to splatter, potentially causing burns.
2. Be careful around the oil.
Put on your safety glasses, oven mitts and an apron to handle the fryer well before the oil starts to bubble. Make sure your fryer is on a flat, level space to carefully gauge the amount of oil needed. Don’t use too much oil, pouring too much oil in could cause the burner to ignite it if it spills out. To prevent overflow, put the bird in the fryer, filling the fryer with water, removing the bird and marking the level with a permanent marker. Then thoroughly dry the fryer and pour the oil to below that level.
3. Get the temperature just right.
When cooking turkey, the oil temperature should be at 325 degrees. It may take 4 to 5 minutes per pound to reach the recommended temperatures, as dark meat should get up to an internal temperature of about 180 degrees F, and white meat to an internal temperature of about 170 degrees.Heat Properly – Heat the oil to between 325 and 375 degrees. A 15-pound turkey should take 45 minutes to an hour to cook.
4. Monitor the turkey.
Using temperature controls to monitor the blaze is must. Also, and take your time while frying the turkey. Slowly raise and lower the turkey into the fryer to minimize spills, and give your full attention to the process. It’s wise to never leave the bird unattended. Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths.
5. Be sure to remove the bird from the fryer slowly, turn off the heat, and clean up your frying area.

In part two of this holiday safety series, Adkins will share more tips on seasonal fire safety.

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Tammy Teague

Tammy Teague

Mansfield native, with roots in Scott County. Daughter, sister, wife and Christian. Education: 1995 MHS graduate; 1999 Arkansas Tech University Graduate - BA in Journalism. Career: Managing Editor - The Citizen; Copy Writer - Southwest Times Record; 20+ years experience in the news.

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