FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, November 19, 2018


TRENTON, NJ – State Fire Marshal Richard Mikutsky today reminded residents to exercise caution when using a turkey fryer, which is a popular – but potentially dangerous – way to cook turkeys or wild fowl by immersing them in a hot cooking oil reservoir. 

“Plunging a frozen or partly thawed turkey into a fryer’s hot oil container is a recipe for disaster. Because oil and water do not mix, this will cause the hot oil to splash and be ignited by the propane-fired burner below the oil container, which can ignite the propane burner itself, causing a large explosion,” said Fire Marshal Mikutsky, who also directs the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety. “Such an explosion can result in severe burns and even death. When using turkey fryers, the turkey must be completely thawed and dry.” 

Fire Marshal Mikutsky recommends the following tips for people who are planning to use a turkey fryer or actively shopping for one: 

  • Use turkey fryers outdoors away from buildings, overhangs and flammable materials.
  • Never use turkey fryers on a wooden or composite material deck.
  • Place turkey fryers on a flat surface to reduce the likelihood of accidental tipping.
  • Never leave a fryer unattended. If not carefully watched, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer, even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking container can remain dangerously hot hours after use.
  • To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts because the lid and handles can become dangerously hot. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect eyes from oil splatter.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dried and be careful with marinades.
  • Never use water to extinguish a grease fire.
  • Keep an all-purpose (ABC) fire extinguisher nearby. If the fire is manageable, use the all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call the fire department. 

The National Turkey Federation recommends thawing a turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every four to five pounds in weight. 

Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, and the day before Thanksgiving, according to the National Fire Protection Association. 

As such, the Division of Fire Safety reminds families to follow these general safe cooking tips: 

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop. Unattended cooking is by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires.
  • Stay in the home when cooking a turkey and check on it frequently.
  • Keep children at least three feet away from stoves and away from hot liquids and food.
  • Keep the kitchen and dining room floors clear of trip hazards.
  • Be sure electric cords from cooking appliances are not dangling off the counter.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Make sure smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button. 

The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the State. The Division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, as well as for implementing community risk reduction and firefighter training programs. 

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Tammori Petty
Lisa Ryan
Gina Trish
(609) 292-6055