One of the major causes of cooking accidents and injuries at holiday time are turkey deep-fryers. These oil-filled pots completely submerse the turkey (or other food) in hot oil, and they continue to grow in popularity year after year.

The National Fire Protection Association believes that turkey fryers which use cooking oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer. These devices use a substantial amount of cooking oil at high temperatures, and they pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process. In addition, the burners that heat the oil can ignite even small quantities of spilled oil. The use of deep fryers can lead to devastating burn injuries and the destruction of property.

While the Bernardsville Fire Prevention Bureau does not recommend the use of turkey deep-fryers, we encourage those who do choose to use them to do so with caution and to be mindful of the following safety recommendations:

1. Use the fryer outdoors only, and keep it a minimum of 15 feet from your home and other combustibles.

2. Do not use a fryer on a wooden deck, or inside a garage or other structure.

3. Place the fryer on a non-combustible, solid, flat surface to avoid accidental tipping or spilling of hot oil.

4. Fryers should only be used by adults.

5. Keep children and pets far away from the fryer.

6. Do not leave the fryer unattended, even for a short time.

7. Use only the recommended amount of oil. If the pot is overfilled, oil may spill over the side and ignite when food is placed in it. Even a small amount of oil coming into contact with the burner can cause a serious fire.

8. Make sure the turkey (or other food) is COMPLETELY THAWED and DRY before placing it in the fryer! Placing a frozen or wet turkey into the fryer can result in a violent explosion of hot oil, leading to serious burns and other injuries.

9. Have a fire extinguisher nearby  - either a Class K or an all-purpose dry-chemical (ABC) fire extinguisher is recommended. Never use water to extinguish an oil or grease fire.

10. Follow the fryer manufacturer’s directions carefully.

An alternative for those who prefer fried turkey at holiday time is to seek out professional establishments, such as grocery stores, specialty food retailers, and restaurants, which can prepare this dish for you.

Our Bernardsville Fire Prevention Bureau is always happy to answer questions residents might have about this, or any other, issue. Our email address is, and we can be reached by telephone at 908-766-3000, ext. 133.