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Thanksgiving 2013: How to fry a turkey without burning down your house

Addie Broyles

Frying a turkey this year? You’re not alone, but if you find yourself with a grease fire on your hands, you’re also not alone.

Texas ranks No. 1 in the country for grease and cooking fires on Thanksgiving, and the National Fire Protection Association says that nationally, deep fryers cause more than 50 injuries and $10 million in property damage each year.

Those stats are almost enough to send some cooks back into the kitchen. If you are frying a turkey this year, here are some safety tips from the Austin Fire Department:

Don’t put too much oil in the fryer pot. Because turkey sizes vary so much, you can put the turkey in the pot with water and measure how much liquid the pot can handle.

Make sure the turkey is thawed completely. Ice and oil are a dangerous combination because the water evaporates, creating steam bubbles that pop and spray hot oil. Create enough of those steam bubbles and you’re in for a trip to the emergency room. Give the turkey at least an extra day longer in the fridge than you think it’s going to need, and pat the skin dry before frying.

Stay far away from structures. A third of fryer fires start in a garage or patio, so cook outdoors, away from buildings and covered areas and make sure the fryer isn’t set up on a wooden surface.

Don’t cover the turkey and don’t leave it alone. Someone needs to be watching the turkey in the oil at all times. The turkey should take about 45 minutes in the oil, so make sure you’re not distracted by guests, a football game or other cooking tasks.

If you do have a fire, don’t use water to try to put it out. Use a multipurpose fire extinguisher and call 911 to report it.

If you’re grilling a turkey this year, make sure you have enough charcoal on hand to maintain a temperature of 350 to 400 degrees for several hours, and place the turkey on a roasting pan with some liquid and aromatics, which will help flavor the turkey and keep the fat from dripping onto the hot coals.