Fried turkeys: Don't get burned

Published: Nov. 25, 2013 at 11:24 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 9, 2014 at 11:48 PM EST
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CHICAGO, IL (NBC News) - The popularity of deep-fried turkeys on Thanksgiving has ignited an increase in cooking fires and burns in recent years.

A demonstration from the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows how quickly an entire room can become engulfed with fire when oil in the fryer boils over.

Serafino Alfe suffered third degree burns on Thanksgiving two years ago when he tripped over a turkey fryer spilling scalding oil onto his leg.

He spent three weeks in the Loyola Burn Center in Chicago and still suffers from nerve damage.

"The nerves are gone. They're shot," said Alfe.

There are three times as many home cooking fires on Thanksgiving day than any other day of the year.

Many are attributed to mistakes made when deep-frying turkeys.

"It's when you don't follow the instructions, don't take safeguards in regards to cooking it properly, and then bad things will happen, and they happen very quick," firefighter Larry Lippell said.

The experts warn against overfilling the oil which can catch fire when it overflows.

Also, make sure the turkey is thawed and dry as ice and water can cause boil overs.

If a fire starts in the kitchen, cover the pot with a lid to deprive the flames of oxygen.

Doctors advise against trying to get the flaming container out of the house.

"Somebody opens the door, and now there's a draft in the reverse direction blowing the fire back on them," said Dr. Richard Gamelli of Loyola University.

Experts say turkey fryers belong outside only and should never be left unattended.

Another tip, turn the flame off before you add the turkey.

That way, if there is a boil over, the flammable splash won't ignite.