This month the Mill Valley Fire Department Public Safety message:
Cooking Safety Tips and Turkey Fryer Fires
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports cooking is the leading cause of home fires. It is responsible for two of every five reported home fires. It is also the leading cause of home fire injuries. The top three days for cooking fires are Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
- Overall, cooking equipment caused 43 percent of reported home fires, 38 percent of home fire injuries, 16 percent of home fire deaths, and 12 percent of the direct property damage in reported home fires during this period.
- Cooking is the third leading cause of home fire deaths.
- Households that use electric ranges have a higher risk of fire and associated losses than those using gas ranges.
- Ranges, with or without ovens, accounted for the majority of home cooking fire incidents and even larger shares of civilian deaths.
Please click here for a flyer on cooking tips.
The Mill Valley Fire Department discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil. These turkey fryers use a substantial quantity of cooking oil at high temperatures, and units currently available for home use pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process. The use of turkey fryers by consumers can lead to devastating burns, other injuries and the destruction of property. Your fire department urges those who prefer fried turkey to seek out professional establishments, such as grocery stores, specialty food retailers, and restaurants for the preparation of the dish, or consider a new type of "oil-less" turkey fryer."
- Hot oil may splash or spill at any point during the cooking process, when the fryer is jarred or tipped over, the turkey is placed in the fryer or removed, or the turkey is moved from the fryer to the table. Any contact between hot oil and skin could result in serious injury. Any contact between hot oil and nonmetallic materials could lead to serious damage.
- A major spill of hot oil can occur with fryers designed for outdoor use and using a stand as these units are particularly vulnerable to upset or collapse, followed by a major spill of hot oil. Newer countertop units using a solid base appear to reduce this particular risk. The Mill Valley Fire Department does not believe that consumer education alone can make the risks of either type of turkey fryer acceptably low because of the large quantities of hot oil involved and the speed and severity of burn likely to occur with contact.
- In deep-frying, oil is heated to temperatures of 350 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Cooking oil is combustible, and if it is heated beyond its cooking temperature, its vapors can ignite. This is a fire danger separate from the burn danger inherent in the hot oil. Overheating can occur if temperature controls, which are designed to shut off the fryer if the oil overheats, are defective, or if the appliance has no temperature controls.
- Propane-fired turkey fryers are designed for outdoor use, particularly for Thanksgiving, by which time both rain and snow are common in many parts of the country. If rain or snow strikes exposed hot cooking oil, the result can be a splattering of the hot oil or a conversion of the rain or snow to steam, either of which can lead to burns. Use of propane-fired turkey fryers indoors to avoid bad weather is contrary to their design and dangerous in its own right. Also, moving an operating turkey fryer indoors to escape bad weather is extremely risky. Fires have occurred when turkey fryers were used in a garage or barn or under eaves to keep the appliance out of the rain.
If you have any questions regarding disaster preparation, first aid and city services, please call the Mill Valley Fire Department at 415-389-4130.