Turkey Fryers Will Cause Fire Damage this Thanksgiving, Toltek Services, LLC Helps You Avoid Becoming a Victim

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Deep frying Thanksgiving Turkeys often involves men, cigars, beer, Frisbees, footballs, pets, televisions and a five gallon bucket of hot grease located inches away from 30 pounds of propane with gas transported through a small rubber hose past a regulator to an open flame on stilts. What can possibly go wrong? Toltek Services, LLC suggests ways to stay safe this Thanksgiving.

Turkey Fryer

The word FIRE rang from the kitchen

Toltek Services, LLC understands the desire to fry turkeys at Thanksgiving as the company's president and resident Maintenance Guru, Dave Risha, frys one every year. The Maintenance Guru has first hand safety advice for everyone.

Frying Thanksgiving turkeys has become an annual tradition for many of us across the country. Each year, thousands of turkeys have turned out perfect with men focusing on the turkey while women focus on the rest of the meal. The men, boys and pets stay outdoors while the women and girls remain indoors perfecting the potatoes, vegetables, breads, pastries, and deserts that will accompany the meal. Wine flows freely inside while cold beer flows freely outside often accompanied with the cigars, footballs, Frisbees, and of course a television to watch the games.

During year four of what now has become the Maintenance Guru’s 14 year tradition, one turkey fryer incident nearly wrecked Thanksgiving. The fry pot was left unattended for 45 minutes just after the flame was lit. Guests began arriving and nobody bothered to watch the vat of oil as the temperature raised. The word FIRE rang from the kitchen where everyone looked outside to see the vat of super heated oil begin to flame up.

The Maintenance Guru was lucky. All he had to do was turn off the burner (remove the heat) and put a lid on the vat of burning oil (remove the oxygen). Once the oil cooled down to 350°, the turkey was dropped in and Thanksgiving celebration continued. In man speak “no harm, no foul.”

Preventive maintenance is more than taking care of equipment; it also means preventing accidents through planning and education. Fires can start anywhere there is heat and open flames. Keep your fire extinguisher(s) handy wherever you cook this Thanksgiving. If you are cooking in multiple locations, have multiple fire extinguishers. Keep lids available for all pots and pans on open flames or burners and make sure your guests have been briefed on fire safety. Amazingly enough, the Maintenance Guru knows of no single incident that resulted following a home fire safety briefing. It can be as simple as “here are lids to your pans, in case of a fire, put a lid on it. If that doesn’t work, here is the fire extinguisher please be careful so we don’t have to use it.”

A two sentence briefing can save your home and maybe your life. Plus, when was the last time someone reminded you to put a lid on grease fires?

Thanksgiving poses special challenges because there is more cooking taking place for this meal than normal. Simple details such as keeping lids handy for all stove and burner items are ignored to save counter space. Strangers provide help in the kitchen but they are unfamiliar with where the fire extinguisher is located. Portable burners are put into action on back porches and elsewhere to add cooking surface without the thought of pot holders and other safety precautions. To top it all off, alcohol is often consumed throughout the day and at crunch time when everything needs to be finished; many of the guests are feeling no pain.

Too many people will see their home catch on fire and some will watch helplessly as it burns to the ground. The sad truth is that every fire will be one that could have been avoided had a few simple precautions been taken.

Know exactly how much oil you need in your fryer by following the following steps:
1.    Place the uncooked turkey in an empty fryer
2.    Fill the fryer up with water until the top of the turkey is covered by about ½ inch
3.    Remove the turkey
4.    Mark the fryer at the top of the water line (this will be your oil fill line)
5.    Empty the water from the fryer and dry the inside
6.    Fill the fryer with oil (I prefer peanut oil) to the mark
7.    Use paper towels to dry the turkey inside and out before placing it in the fryer
8.    Make sure your turkey is 100% thawed before placing it in the hot fryer
Note: Moisture that remains on and in the turkey gets trapped under the hot oil and turns to steam. The steam rises and causes the oil to bubble, splatter and often spew over the edge. When oil spews over the edge of the pan it is free to run down into the flames and ignite.

For more tips on turkey fryers, please visit the Underwriters Laboratories web site at

Dave Risha, President of Toltek Services, LLC is the Maintenance Guru. Dave was a master plumber at the age of 17 and has operated and maintained residential and commercial facilities across the country for over 35 years. His company provides money saving preventive maintenance advice and instructions to homeowners and small businesses across the country through an inexpensive subscription service located at http://www.maintenanceguru.com.

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Dave Risha
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