FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, November 24, 2014


Growing Popularity of Turkey Frying Exposes Families to Greater Risk of Cooking Fires

Trenton, N.J. - In advance of the holiday season, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Fire Safety is issuing safety tips regarding turkey fryers. With more people using canister fryers to prepare their Thanksgiving turkey, DCA fire experts have issued tips to ensure proper frying methods to avoid catastrophes that pose some of the greatest risks for fire and injury during the holiday. In fact, experts report that more cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day in the calendar year.


"While Thanksgiving is a joyous occasion, the excitement that comes with the holiday can also create distractions that can lead to accidents and injuries," said DCA Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III.  "As families prepare for the holiday season, we urge those gathering to celebrate to be aware of safe cooking practices, especially as more families use new methods – such as frying – to prepare their turkeys."


Turkey fryers have become increasingly popular since the propane gas tank fired units allow for deep frying of large turkeys, a common staple for holiday gatherings. A key feature is that the turkey or wild fowl is immersed and cooked to golden brown in a bath of hot cooking oil.

"The danger, in particular, concerns immersing a frozen turkey whole into a hot fryer," said Acting State Fire Marshal and Division of Fire Safety Director William Kramer, Jr.  "More often than not, the action displaces an equal amount of extremely hot oil, injuring those nearby and possibly igniting the entire fryer in a ball of flame by the burner below. Done outside adjacent to the home, it is a recipe for disaster."

Additional hazards to consider when using a turkey fryer:


  The lid and the handles can become dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazard.

  Turkey fryers typically have no thermostatic control, so the threat of overheating the oil within is ever-present.

  Many units can easily tip over.


The Division of Fire Safety recommends keeping the following in mind:


  • 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. 

  • 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. 

  • 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.


Finally, holiday preparations should always include a check on all household smoke and CO alarms to make sure that they are working properly. Families are also encouraged to review the family escape plan.


The following link displays turkey fryer safety videos: Turkey Fryer Safety Videos.

 Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the State. The Division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, as well as for implementing public education and firefighter training programs.