When you think of Thanksgiving mishaps, relatively innocuous issues probably come to mind like overcooking the turkey or a heated political debate overtaking the dinner. But what about trying to put out a serious grease fire? Every year, firefighters across the country brace themselves for hundreds of frantic phone calls about turkey frying attempts gone seriously wrong (think grease splatters causing immense fiery explosions in your backyard).
Although fried turkey is still pretty popular, the National Fire Protection Association maintains that “turkey fryers that use cooking oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer. NFPA urges those who prefer fried turkey to seek out professional establishments, such as grocery stores, specialty food retailers, and restaurants, for the preparation of the dish.”
If you do insist on frying your turkey, here are some tips from Houston volunteer firefighters, according to the local ABC News syndicate. Never fry a frozen turkey, always fry your turkey outside and away from the side of your house to avoid a house fire, and be sure to be cognizant of not overfilling the tank for your fryer unless you want to induce a raging inferno in your backyard. (S’mores, anyone?)
If you’re wondering where this frying frenzy started, you can thank TV chefs from the 1980s like Justin Wilson, who deep-fried a turkey on his PBS show, Louisiana Cookin’ in 1986, which spurred the popularity for arguably Thanksgiving’s most challenging and dangerous dish.