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Safe Thanksgiving Cooking is Fire Marshall’s Goal

State of Michigan Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer. Courtesy State of Michigan Fire Marshal's Office
State of Michigan Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer. Courtesy State of Michigan Fire Marshal’s Office

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Firemen are twice as busy on Thanksgiving than any normal day.  A lot of that is due to kitchen fires, but also the popularity of deep-frying turkeys.  State of Michigan Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer talked with Tim Collins on the WBCK Morning Show.

When deep-frying the holiday bird, Sehlmeyer said:

  • Always use the portable deep fryer on a flat surface, well away from houses, garages, decks, trees, bushes and other outdoor hazards.
  • Make sure your turkey is completely thawed and dry the turkey prior to putting in the fryer. Extra water or placing a frozen turkey in the fryer will cause the cooking oil to bubble and spill over.
  • Keep children and pets away from the portable deep fryer.
  • Allow at least two (2) feet of space between the liquid propane tank and the portable deep fryer burner.
  • Do not overfill the portable deep fryer with cooking oil that can result in the overflow of the cooking oil and a flash fire when immersing the turkey into the cooking oil. Fire Marshall Sehlmeyer recommended using water before you start and measuring just how much liquid (oil) will be needed.
  • Be careful with marinades. Cooking oil and water do not mix and water causes the cooking oil to spill over, causing a fire or even an explosion hazard during cooking oil boil over.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts as the deep fryer lid and handle can become very hot; wear safety goggles to protect eyes from cooking oil splatter.
  • If the cooking oil begins to smoke, immediately turn the propane tank to OFF by closing the propane tank valve.
  • Have a plan to get the cooked turkey out of the hot oil safely.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher (dry-powder) ready at all times. NEVER use water to extinguish a cooking oil or grease fire.

Fire Marshall Sehlmeyer also offered general safety tips for the kitchen:

  • Start with a clean stove and oven. Remove food and grease buildup from burners, stovetop, and oven.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove to prevent pot tipping by young children or catching on loose clothing.
  • Wear short sleeves or roll sleeves up, so not to catch your clothing on fire during cooking.
  • Set timers to keep track of turkeys and other foods that require extended cooking times.
  • Turn off the stove if you must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time.
  • Keep children away from cooking areas; do not hold children while cooking.
  • Keep kitchen clutter, potholders, towels, and food wrappers well away from the stove, candles and other open flames.
  • Keep a pan lid or cookie sheet nearby; always use an oven mitt.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  • Have working smoke alarms in the home and have an escape plan the entire family knows. Have two (2) ways out if a fire occurs.



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