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The Minnesota Department of Commerce reminds Thanksgiving cooks – fry that turkey with caution!

November 20, 2012


For Immediate Release:

SAINT PAUL, MN –The Minnesota Department of Commerce urges family chefs to use caution when frying turkeys this Thanksgiving.  Each holiday season, fire related insurance claims skyrocket.  As one might expect, grease and oil fires from turkey fryers play a large role in creating this spike. In fact, Minnesota is currently ranked eighth in the nation for the highest number of cooking-related insurance claim submissions on Thanksgiving Day. 

“Every year, Minnesotans suffer serious injury and damage to their homes from deep frying turkeys,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “If you are going to deep fry your turkey this week, use care and caution; take your turkey outside and keep it away from your home and any flammable items. Play it safe, and your family will have much to be thankful for this Holiday Season.”

The National Fire Protection Association reports that most turkey fryers use large amounts of cooking oil heated to extreme temperatures. The oil is often uncovered and dangerous to its surroundings; exposed hands and arms are particularly vulnerable to splatters when dropping the thawed turkey into the cooking pot. It is reported that U.S. fire departments respond to more than 1,000 fires each year caused by turkey fryers, resulting in $15 million in property damage and injuries.  

In recent years, William Shattner has teamed up with State Farm Insurance to highlight the risks and dangers of deep frying turkeys around the holidays. Mr. Shattner warns that the combination of cooking oil, turkey, and steam can cause the pot to overflow and possibly ignite the oil on the fryer’s open flame. The results can be devastating. Turkey fryer mishaps have resulted in an overwhelming number of medical burns and property damage claims. 

Not one to avoid dramatics, according to Mr. Shattner: “Fire, metal, oil, and turkey are glorious when in harmony. But their power is unrelenting in careless hands.”

Due to the popularity of Shattner’s “Eat, Fry, Love” public service announcement released last year, a remix was released in 2012 to keep the safety tips at the top of mind as Thanksgiving chefs plan Thursday’s meal. All Minnesotans are encouraged to take a few minutes and make this video part of their family holiday tradition.

In addition to advising the utmost caution, Commissioner Rothman is also encouraging all homeowners to protect their investments and possessions in preparation for any potential mishaps. Rothman reminds all Minnesotans that creating a home inventory of items and possessions is an important tool for recovering losses through insurance claims if items are damaged or destroyed in an event like a fire.  

“People don’t like to dwell on the possibility of a major home disaster – especially during the holidays,” said Rothman. “But people need to realize that they may be throwing away some of their insurance coverage if they don’t take the time to prepare an inventory.”  

Home Inventory

Visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce website to learn how to create a home inventory.  Minnesotans who use smart phones can download the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) myHOME Scr.APP.book for both iPhone and Android phones. The inventory app captures images, descriptions, and serial numbers of household possessions, then organizes the information by room or category.  The app even creates a back-up file for email sharing.

Tips to Prevent Turkey Fryer Accidents

Take William Shattner’s word for it ¬– Watch Eat, Fry, Love and Eat, Fry, Love: A Cautionary Remix to understand the dangers associated with frying turkeys and the easy steps to avoid disaster.

Just don’t do it – The National Fire Protection Association discourages the use of outdoor, oil based, turkey fryers.  For those who enjoy their turkey fried, it is recommended that consumers buy directly from a grocery store or restaurant, or consider turkey fryers that don’t use oil.

Location, location, location – If you are going to deep fry a turkey, make sure you do so outdoors on a flat, hard surface such as concrete.  It is also recommended that this location be a safe distance away from buildings and other property.  

Easy does it – Make sure you don’t overfill the fryer with cooking oil.  Take into account the amount of oil that will be displaced by the turkey itself and don’t forget about the steam and bubbles that will eventually factor in.  

Don’t slack off – Never leave the fryer unattended and always make sure to keep children and pets away from it.  Keep an eye on the pot’s temperature and turn it off immediately if it begins to smoke.  

Don’t bring water to a grease fight – If an oil and grease fire does occur, do not try to put it out with water.  Have a fire distinguisher on hand and be prepared to call 9-1-1 in emergency situations.