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Burn Cases Increase At Thanksgiving

November 21, 2011

Augusta, GA  - With Thanksgiving just days away and families making their plans for the holiday, doctors hope they’ll add one more item to their menu: an extra serving of caution.

“Every Thanksgiving, we see the same thing: People get a little careless or they get distracted for just a second and disaster strikes,” said Dr. Fred Mullins, Medical Director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital.   “Some of the burns are minor, but many are very severe and require a lot of healing and recovery.”

Deep-frying turkeys has become a staple for many when it comes to Thanksgiving. It can, however, also be one of the most dangerous ways of cooking.  In recent years, both the American Burn Association and the National Fire Protection Association have encouraged people to avoid frying turkeys due to the risks involved.  Still, if people plan to fry a turkey, there are certain safety tips to consider:

  • Turkeys should be less than 12 lbs.; 8-10 lbs. turkeys are often the most appropriate size.
  • Check the turkey to make sure it is not partially frozen and does not have any excess water on it. If excess water is present, it can cause hot oil to splatter. It also helps to pat down the bird with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
  • The fryer should be used on a well-ventilated, level, outdoor surface.
  • Make sure the pot is never left unattended, and children and pets are kept at a safe distance.
  • Use only peanut, canola or safflower oils in the fryer.
  • Make sure the deep fryer has a thermostat to regulate the temperature of the oil.
  • Slowly lower the turkey into the pot to avoid spillage.
  • Have a fire extinguisher nearby and never use water to extinguish a grease or oil fire. 
  • Remember that it may take several hours for the oil in a deep fryer to cool.
  • Avoid excessive drinking when using a deep-fryer.
  • Consider purchasing pre-fried turkey or hire a professional caterer to handle the turkey frying.

Deep-fried turkeys are not the only burn and fire danger at Thanksgiving.  According to the U.S. Fire Administration, Thanksgiving Day sees more than double the number of home cooking fires than an average day.  Also, with families congregating around the dinner table, there’s always the increased risk of burns in the kitchen.

“One of the most important things I can tell people is that they should never, ever allow a child to be alone or unsupervised in the kitchen,” said Dr. Mullins. “We see cases of children getting burned by touching a hot pot or pulling scalding liquid down on themselves on an almost daily basis.”