Penn. Regulators Offer Tips to Avoid Turkey Frying Homeowners Catastrophe

November 26, 2013

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department and the Office of the State Fire Commissioner are cautioning consumers to be extra careful when considering deep frying a turkey as part of the Thanksgiving celebration.

While a tasty alternative to the traditional roast-in-the-oven main course, deep frying a turkey, if not careful, can lead to fire and serious injury, officials warned. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports that nearly 4,300 fires occur on Thanksgiving, causing 15 deaths and almost $27 million in property damage, many of them due to deep frying accidents.

The following are some safety tips provided by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department:

• Read owner’s manual for proper set up and safety tips.

• Completely thaw the bird before frying (hot oil and water do not mix).

• Use the correct amount of oil. If overfilled, the oil may spill out of the pot and hit the burner of flames and fire will engulf the entire unit.

• Never leave the fryer unattended. Many don’t have thermostat controls to prevent overheating of the oil to the point it ignites.

• Keep children and pets away from fryer.

• Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish an oil fire.

• Lid and handles of the cooking pot get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.

• Do not deep fry the turkey inside the garage, on a porch or inside the home.

• Use the fryer outside, away from trees, walls, fences and other structures.

Officials said homeowner policies will cover things like the structure of the home, personal belongings and liability protection against bodily injury to guests, but it is best to take safety measures to avoid these types of insurance claims in the first place.

More information on homeowners insurance and a fact sheet on turkey fryer safety are available on the Pennsylvania Insurance Department’s website at More fire safety tips are also available on the Pennsylvania Office of State Fire Commissioner’s website at

The following are U.S. home cooking fire statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, based on 2006-2010 annual averages:

• Unattended cooking is by far the leading contributing factor in home cooking fires.

• Two-thirds (67 percent) of home cooking fires started with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.

• Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1 percent of these fires, but these incidents accounted for 16 percent of the cooking fire deaths.

• Ranges accounted for the largest share (58 percent) of home cooking fire incidents. Ovens accounted for 16 percent.

• Three of every five (57 percent) reported non-fatal home cooking fire injuries occurred when the victims tried to fight the fire themselves.

• Frying poses the greatest risk of fire.

• Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires.

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