Escambia Co. Fire Rescue shows improper turkey frying, urges the public to be careful

Northwest Florida

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Thanksgiving is coming next week, which means more people will be in and out of the kitchen cooking.

Escambia County Fire Rescue officials say house fires tend to go up 30% to 35% during the Thanksgiving holiday. Turkey frying is a factor in those statistic.

So, the fire rescue on Thursday demonstrated the dangers of frying a turkey. Instead of a “how-to,” firefighters gave a “how-not-to” fry a turkey.

A firefighter used a metal rod to drop a frozen turkey into a boiling pot of oil. Expectedly, the oil went up in flames.

“This demonstration can make the public aware of the dangers involved — the risk,” said Ray Melton, a fire and life safety educator with the Escambia County Fire Rescue. “People every year get serious burns from this, and it’s not just the cooking outside. It’s inside as well.”

To help keep people safe while cooking, the county sent out these fire safety tips to remember:

Frying a turkey:

  • Use a fryer with thermostat controls. This will ensure the oil does not over heat.
  • Thaw your turkey completely. Ice on the bird will cause the oil to splatter.
  • Don’t overfill the pot with oil. If you do, the oil will overflow when you add the turkey, causing a fire hazard.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the fryer.
  • Always use the fryer outdoors.

General cooking safety:

  • Stand by your stove when you are frying, boiling or broiling. If you are in the kitchen, it is easier to catch spills or hazardous conditions before they become a fire.
  • Keep the area around the stove clear of packaging, paper towels, and dish cloths – anything that can burn.
  • Be sure to clean up any spills as they happen.
  • Be prepared. Keep a large pan lid or baking sheet handy in case you need to smother a pan fire.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so you don’t bump them.

Fire Statistics (based on 2014-2018 annual averages):

  • Unattended cooking was the leading factor in home cooking fires.
  • Cooking caused almost half of all reported home fires and home fire injuries, and it is the second leading cause of home fire deaths in 2014-2018. 
  • Clothing was the item first ignited in less than one percent of these fires, but these incidents accounted for 8% of the cooking fire deaths.
  • Ranges or cooktops were involved in the 61% of reported home cooking fires, 87% of cooking fire deaths and 78% of cooking fire injuries.
  • More than one-quarter of the people killed by cooking fires were sleeping at the time.
  • More than half of the non-fatal injuries occurred when people tried to control the fire themselves.
  • Frying poses the greatest risk of fire.

Melton said he hopes for no fires during the holiday season.

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