From Staff Reports
While many Thanksgiving traditions include feasting on a turkey complete with all of the trimmings, the holiday includes an increase in the number of burn patients seen in the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital.
“From cooking accidents to house fires, the causes are numerous and varied,” said Dr. Fred Mullins, medical director of the burn center. “If there is a common thread among the majority of our burn patients, it is that they let their guard down for just a second.”
“Whether they got a little distracted making dinner or were careless in the kitchen, the results can be devastating.”
Tips to prevent holiday burns, according to the burn center:
• Establish the kitchen as a kids-free zone before cooking even begins
“Burns to children are usually more severe and the scars from their injuries can last their entire lives,” Mullins said. “Each year, we see injuries from children who touched a hot stovetop, or have pulled a pot of hot food down on top of themselves.”
• Make sure all pot handles are turned inward and any appliances that get hot, such as a toaster oven, are well out of a child’s reach.
• Keep a close eye on cooking surfaces to ensure that flammable items such as potholders, containers and food wrappers are not too close to each other.
• Taking the cooking outside, such as when frying a turkey, does not lessen the danger or diminish the need to be careful.
How to safely fry a turkey:
• Think small; purchase a turkey that is less than 12 lbs.
• Check oil levels to prevent spillage out of the sides of the fryer and into the flames causing a fire. To ensure you have the correct oil level, place the turkey in the empty pot, then slowly fill the pot with water. When the water level reaches 2 inches above the turkey, pull the bird out and then measure the water level. Pour out the water, dry the pot and then fill to the measured level with oil.
Other turkey frying tips:
• 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. It also helps to pat down the bird with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
• The fryer should be used on a well-ventilated, level, outdoor surface.
• Make sure the pot is never left unattended, and children and pets are kept at a safe distance.
• Use only peanut, canola or safflower oils in the fryer.
• Use care when touching the handles of the pot.
• Make sure the deep fryer has a thermostat to regulate the temperature of the oil.
• Slowly lower the turkey into the pot to avoid spillage.
• Make sure a fire extinguisher is nearby that can put out a grease fire, just in case an accident occurs. Water should never be used to try to extinguish a grease or oil fire. Always call 911 in the event of a fire.
• Remember that it may take several hours for the oil in a deep fryer to cool.
• Avoid excessive alcohol drinking when using a deep-fryer.
Mullins recommends following the advice of both the American Burn Association and the National Fire Protection Association: “Leave the turkey frying to the professionals.”