Eye safety tips for a Thanksgiving turkey deep-fry

Thanksgiving turkey and sides

The trend of deep-frying a turkey for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holiday dinners is growing, and so is the number of fryer-related fires and burns.

Three times as many cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving as on a typical day, and unattended cooking is by far the leading cause of cooking fires and fire-related injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Keep your turkey feast eye injury-free!

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Want to keep eyes safe while frying a turkey? Here's how:

  • Keep kids and pets away.

  • Put on safety goggles or safety glasses.

  • Plan to have an adult near the fryer at all times, to watch out for any problems.

  • Use a fryer with a sealed lid.

  • Chances of hot oil spills increase with fryers designed for outdoor use. These fryers are often on stands that can tip over or collapse, causing the hot oil to spill. Newer countertop units using a solid base appear to reduce this risk.

  • Propane-fired turkey fryers must be used outdoors. Unfortunately, many parts of the country experience rain or snow during Thanksgiving and winter months. If rain or snow hits the hot cooking oil, the oil may splatter or turn to steam, leading to burns. Don't risk deep-frying outdoors on rainy or snowy days!

  • Don't overfill the fryer with oil; if oil spills on a burner, it will ignite.

  • Thaw the turkey completely — a partially thawed turkey will cause the hot oil to splatter, potentially resulting in serious burns to your arms, torso, face and eyes. Wipe off marinade and other moisture before placing it in hot oil.

  • Raise and lower the turkey slowly and carefully to avoid oil splatter.

  • If the oil overheats, turn off the fryer.

  • Have a fire extinguisher appropriate for oil fires nearby, and know how to use it.

  • Don't use a water hose on a turkey fryer fire.

  • If anyone is burned, get medical attention immediately.

Many thanks to the NFPA and to Dr. Richard L. Gamelli of Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago, for these valuable tips and warnings. — L.S. and N.B.

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Gary Heiting, OD

Gary Heiting, OD, is a former senior editor of AllAboutVision.com. Dr. Heiting has more than 30 years of experience as an eye care provider, health educator and consultant to the eyewear ... Read more