Hand Safety Spotlight

The Dangers of Thanksgiving Dinner Prep: Minimizing Deep-fried Turkey Accidents

An all-American Thanksgiving dinner isn’t complete without a traditional roasted turkey. But if you want to put a spin on the usual turkey prep, try deep frying it.

Deep-fried turkey is a Southern delicacy and traditional Thanksgiving fare but in recent years the trend has spread to several other states. The crispy skin and juicy meat make deep-fried turkey a fast favorite. There’s also the added benefit of a faster cooking time compared to roasting it.

You’re probably wondering why we’re talking about fried turkey and Thanksgiving on a hand safety blog. But if you’ve ever fried a turkey, you know it is a hazardous activity. Don’t attempt it without taking the proper precautions.

Heeding Safety Warnings 

From moving to a safer area to keeping your hands protected, safety should be your top priority when deep-frying a turkey for Thanksgiving. After all, submerging a large bird into a bubbling vat of oil can quite literally lead to a fiery disaster. The National Fire Protection Agency reports that fire departments across the US responded to nearly 1,750 Thanksgiving cooking fire incidents in 2015.

More fires happen in the U.S. on Thanksgiving than Christmas Day or Eve. US Fire Administration data from five years ago show similar findings. The number of residential building fires that occurred on Thanksgiving Day were over twice the average number of fires on any other day of the year.

Proper safety equipment like industrial gloves and fire-resistant covers are necessary to have on hand.

Setup the Deep Fryer Outside

Prepare your equipment and tools beforehand to ensure you have everything, including:

  • A propane burner and stand
  • A large pot
  • A fryer basket or hook that fits the turkey
  • A lowering mechanism like a hanger


Make sure to set up your turkey deep-frying rig outdoors. While it’s possible to deep-fry your turkey indoors, it’s much safer to do it outside your house.

Keep the cook site away from your home, garage, trees, or anything else that could catch fire. Prepare a Class K fire extinguisher nearby just in case. An ideal spot is a level concrete surface that’s at least 10 feet away from any other structure. The flames from a failed deep-frying attempt can spread and reach well over the height of a person.

Thaw the Turkey Completely

Deep-frying a frozen turkey will immediately result in a large fire. So, check the inside and outside of the turkey. The bird’s cavity may still maintain a colder temperature. It might have some ice even after the rest of the bird defrosts. Don’t attempt anything until it’s thawed completely.

It’s important to dry your turkey completely, as well. Remember to pat it dry if you seasoned it through brining, a marinade or injectable. Plunging a wet turkey into the hot oil will cause the oil to shoot out, injuring your hands.

Keep an Eye on the Oil

Keep the amount of oil you use below the maximum fill line of your pot. If you’re unsure about the proper oil level for your size bird, place the turkey in the pot, cover it with water, then take the turkey out to determine the amount of oil you’ll need. Remember to dry the pot before filling it up with oil.

Preheat the oil to between 350 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Slowly ease the turkey into the pot and release it when it’s submerged in the oil; don’t drop it in. Watch the turkey carefully as it’s fried to avoid accidents. The rule of thumb when deep-frying a turkey is to cook it around three to four minutes per pound of meat.

Deep-frying a turkey is an unpredictable and dangerous task. It’s hard to guarantee complete safety so be sure to take all the necessary precautions and prepare for any eventuality.

And after you’ve eaten your fill of the delicious turkey you safely fried, visit Ringers Gloves for more information about some of the safest and most comfortable gloves on the market.

Happy Thanksgiving and remember to keep those hands safe.


Category: Hand Safety, HSE, Injury Prevention