NFPA and ABA discourage use of turkey fryers, citing burns, fires

Published on November 9, 2004

November 9, 2004—As preparations for Thanksgiving get underway in American homes, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the American Burn Association (ABA) discourage consumers from using turkey fryers to prepare holiday meals because of the risk of injuries and fires associated with these unique devices.

Tests have shown that many of the fryers have a risk of tipping over, overheating, or spilling hot oil, leading to fires and burns. This deep-frying cooking process requires that up to five gallons of oil be heated to high temperatures before lowering the turkey into the device.

Although frying substantially cuts down on cooking time, and some believe fried turkey tastes better, there are alternatives for consumers using these fryers. If you prefer fried turkey, the organizations urge you to seek out commercial professionals to prepare your entree. Fried turkeys can be ordered from some supermarkets and restaurants during the holiday season.

Consumers may find turkey fryer packaging displaying independent product safety-testing labels. However, in some instances, these certifications do not apply to the entire device, but only to a single component, such as the hose.

NFPA and ABAconsider turkey fryers dangerous because:

  • When the turkey is placed in the hot oil, oil may spill onto the burner, creating a fire.
  • The units can tip over, spilling hot, scalding oil onto anyone or anything nearby.
  • Some units do not have automatic thermostat controls to regulate the temperature of the oil, so oil may heat to the point of boiling over and catching fire.
  • The sides, lids, and handles can get extremely hot and may cause burns.

“Every holiday season, burn centers in the United Statesadmit and treat people burned while deep frying turkeys,” said Dr. David Barillo, a burn surgeon and chair of the ABA Burn Prevention Committee. “In some cases, the burn victims are children who run into the fryers while playing nearby.  Splattering can occur when a 20-pound frozen turkey is added to five gallons of boiling oil.”

Turkeyfryers are far too risky for consumers,” said James M. Shannon, NFPA president. “As safety organizations, we are concerned about the dangers of this product, which is like no other cooking appliance. Gallons of oil heated in excess of 350 degrees Fahrenheit can quickly ignite if something goes wrong, and house and garage fires have been started from using them. ”

NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating scientifically-based consensus codes and standards, research, training and education.

The ABAand its members dedicate their efforts and resources to promoting and supporting burn-related research, education, care, rehabilitation and prevention. Members include physicians, nurses, occupational and physical therapists, researchers, social workers, firefighters, and hospitals with burn centers. Visit ABA’s Web site at www.ameriburn.org.