Thanksgiving Day is a time when Americans enjoy the day with friends and family, watch football, hopefully take a break from work, and cook great food to share. The centerpiece of this event being a perfectly roasted or fried turkey surrounded by all the fixin's. With so many kitchens running at full speed on this day, there are bound to be some mishaps that require filing an insurance claim.
No matter how to like your turkey or even if you're one of those Tofurkey people, everyone seems to have "the best" way to prepare their meal for the big day. I've heard everything from smothering a turkey in Mayonnaise and garlic to just plain smoking it. Regardless how it's prepared, one method that gained much popularity in the last ten to fifteen years is deep frying and I must say, it's delicious and a touch dangerous.
According to State Farm, Thanksgiving day has more cooking related insurance claims than any other day of the year and frying a turkey is a major cause. Several factors can cause a dangerous turkey frying situation but most are due to the following scenarios:
- Filling the pot with too much oil
- Dropping a cold, frozen turkey into hot oil
- Placing the fryer too close to combustible structures
Home Insurance Risks and Turkey Frying
As the saying goes, "Everything is big in Texas", they are also no slouch when it comes to turkey frying accidents as well. In a state known for deep fried southern style food, Texas led the country in home insurance claims as a result of turkey frying or grease fire accidents with a hefty 38 claims since 2007 according to State Farm Insurance Company. The National Fire Protection Association reported that "During 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 800 home structure fires per year in which a deep fryer was involved in ignition." The go on to say that this results in roughly 30 civilian injuries, and $17 million in direct property damage annually.
States with the highest turkey frying/grease fire accidents according to claims from 2005 to 2012:
- Texas - 38
- Illinois - 27
- Pennsylvania - 23
- Ohio - 23
- New York - 22
- South Carolina - 16
- Georgia - 16
Tips from William Shatner and State Farm
Several years ago State Farm teamed up with Bill Shatner to show how dangerous this can be with the help of the Illinois Fire Service. As you'll see in the video, attempting to put out the fire in the wrong way can also cause problems. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 55% of reported, non-fatal home cooking fires, involved injuries as a result of the victim trying to extinguish the fire themselves.
Turkey Frying Tips
If you are going to fry a turkey this year, we suggest taking the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable feast that doesn't involve the fire department. Here are some quick tips on successfully preparing and cooking your turkey this year. If you're one of those aforementioned Tofurkey people, you're on your own.
- Choose the right size turkey for how many people it will feed. A good rule of thumb is 1 - 1.5 lbs. per person.
- THAW the turkey completely and prepare according to directions. Deep fried turkeys should not be stuffed.
- To measure how much oil you will need without guessing, first place the thawed turkey in the frying pot and add water until it covers the turkey but a few inches inches of the pot are still above the turkey. Empty the water, dry, and replace with the same amount of oil.
- Pat the turkey dry with paper towel to cut down on oil splatter when before it's dropped into the oil. A cold or wet turkey along with over filling can cause a dangerous situation by igniting the oil.
- Heat the oil to 375 - 400 degrees according the the weight and size of the pot and turkey
- Just prior to slowly lowering the turkey into the oil, turn the burner or flame OFF to prevent igniting the oil on direct flame. Once it it safely submerged, turn the flame or burner back ON.
- When done, let rest and drain for 10 - 15 minutes on a a rack or pan.
- Enjoy your turkey
- (If all else fails, call your local restaurant for reservations!)