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Thanksgiving turkey frying, or playing with fire?

Are turkey fryers dangerous products? Fire safety experts seem to think so. Deep fried turkey tastes so delicious that people risk their homes by cooking it every Thanksgiving. This completely disregards the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) adamant counsel against it. The NFPA maintains that many propane-fired turkey fryers are dangerous products, regardless of caution.

The nature of the oil itself causes the threat. Its weight renders even the safest design top heavy with a vat of oil on the stand, not to mention a turkey in it. A minimum of 350 degrees Fahrenheit is needed to cook a turkey. If oil is heated beyond cooking temperature, it produces potentially flammable vapor. The hotter the oil, the more vapor it produces. The vapors from the hot oil can unexpectedly combust, instantly igniting the oil itself.

Consider that many diesel engines can run on cooking oil. Manufacturers and retailers of such fryers essentially entice you to heat up five gallons of what can be used as fuel in your backyard or driveway. Then they expect you to drop a massive weight into it, and retrieve it in a few minutes, with a propane tank and line right next to the vat.

Autumn weather throws water into the mix, splattering hot oil. Imbalance, or lack of control of the turkey, splashes flammable oil toward the flame. Should a vat tip over, you could end up with a river of flame pouring across your yard, spilling on you, spreading fire to your home, or perhaps even a neighbor's home. Based on the NFPA's warnings, it sounds like it is better to take the time to use your oven, let the delicious smell of roasting turkey fill your warm home, and enjoy a safe Thanksgiving.

Source: National Fire Protection Association, "Turkey fryers"

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