To fry or bake? Burton fire officials hope to settle the turkey debate


It’s the time of year when families, sometimes heatedly, debate whether to fry or bake the turkey.

Burton officials hope to help safely settle the debate.

Burton fire officials stress that safety should be the basis of every plan, especially during the colder-holiday months which are statistically the most dangerous, and particularly when Thanksgiving is the leading day for cooking fires in the U.S.

“This is the time of year we bring vegetation into our home, string it all with lighted wires, and cook large amounts of food,” Burton Community Support Officer Daniel Byrne said. “Add to that the stress and chaos of the holidays, which leads to rushing around and other distractions, and you have a receipt for a preventable disaster.”

While cooking fires comprise 48 percent of all national fires, 45 percent of all fire injuries, and 21 percent of all fire deaths, Byrne also quotes the National Fire Protection Association statistic showing an almost 250 percent increase in overall cooking fires on Thanksgiving.

Of particular concern, is turkey frying.

“The leading cause of fires involving turkey frying is overflow or splashing of the oil, or a leak or malfunction of the propane or burner,” Byrne said. “When that occurs and cooking is taking place too close to the house, or in the garage, or under an overhang, the fire spreads quickly.”

Byrne states that information on how to safely fry a turkey is readily available on the Internet, but Burton officials stress while planning to fry a turkey, the first step is to make sure you can even safely do so by ensuring that you have:

A flat non-wooden surface area a minimum of 10 feet from the home;

An ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher less than five years old within reach;

A propane tank and hose line that has been checked for leaks and proper seals;

An established safety zone five feet around cooking area for pets and children;

A person dedicated to monitor the cooking continuously;

A cell phone handy to call 911 immediately.

“Turkey fires are explosive and can spread rapidly,” said Byrne. “Never use water to put them out and call 911 immediately, no matter how controllable it may initially appear to be.”

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