Stay safe while preparing Thanksgiving meals this year
Keep safe by adding a dash of caution to your favorite recipes.
Dr. Michael Lemon, Medical Director of Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, wants to remind all the turkey chefs and casserole connoisseurs out there that kitchens can be a dangerous place, especially for young ones.
“The kitchen is not a place to play. Establish a three-foot kid-free zone in the kitchen or around fryers to avoid any bumps or wandering hands. To remind them of this rule, try placing painters’ tape on the floor to mark the areas they shouldn’t enter,” said. Dr. Lemon.
When it comes to burn injuries, the kitchen is the most hazardous place in the home or at work, and Thanksgiving festivities only add to the risk of tragedy. The National Fire Protection Association warns that Thanksgiving is the peak day for cooking related fires with frying as the main incendiary agent. No matter where the cooking is taking place, indoors or outdoors, always cook with caution as statistics show that adults are likely to be afflicted by burns from fire, cooking oil, or hot objects, while children are more prone to suffer scalds.
For those tasked with preparing a hot meal this holiday, take the following preventative actions to ensure everyone remains safe:
- Stay alert and avoid cooking while under the influence of medications or alcohol.
- Use timers to track cooking times and never leave cooking food unattended.
- Keep items like potholders and food containers away from stove eyes and other hot surfaces.
- Cook on back burners and make sure all pot handles are turned toward the inside of the stove.
- If you do have a grease fire, use a pot or pan lid to smother or cover it. DO NOT use water to try to put it out!
- Never, ever try to carry or walk with a burning pot or pan.
Cooking a turkey is an American Thanksgiving tradition and, while it is best to leave deep-frying to the professionals, there are ways to reduce the risks brought on by a homemade fried turkey dinner.
Before pouring the oil, place the turkey in the empty pot. Slowly, fill the pot with water until the water level reaches just 2 inches above the turkey. Take the turkey out and dry it thoroughly before measuring the water in the pot. Once that measurement is recorded, pour out the water, dry the pot, and pour in that amount of oil. Always, turn off the flame before adding the turkey to the hot oil. It can be reignited once the turkey is safely in the grease.
“Be informed,” said Dr. Lemon. “Don’t try to fry a turkey if you aren’t sure what you’re doing. With frying oil and a steady flame, you have all the ingredients for a grease fire, which is why it is so important to always have a fire extinguisher nearby.”
To the turkey frying enthusiasts, please take into consideration the following precautions to help make the process safer:
- Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other flammable materials. Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.
- Make sure the deep fryer has a thermostat to regulate the temperature of the oil, otherwise the oil will continue to increase in temperature.
- Use only peanut or canola oils in the fryer.
- Heat cooking oil slowly and watch it closely; it can ignite quickly.
- Turkeys should be less than 12 lbs., and 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. The water can cause hot oil to splatter.
- Slowly lower the turkey into the pot to avoid spillage.
- Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles.
- Make sure a fire extinguisher that can put out a grease fire is nearby just in case an accident occurs.
- Remember that it may take several hours for the oil in a deep fryer to cool.
- Always call 911 in the event of a fire.