A Maritime fire marshal is warning people against deep-frying turkeys this Thanksgiving weekend.

More and more Canadians are adopting the American tradition of deep-frying turkey outdoors. This method of cooking is much quicker than roasting it in the oven and can lead to a juicier bird. But it is also fraught with dangers.

In past years there have been several incidences of people starting fires through dangerous cooking practices.

Dave Rossiter, the provincial fire marshal for P.E.I., said his office strongly recommends against deep-frying turkeys. But he said if people choose to do it, they should take some precautions.

“Don't do it on a wooden deck. Don't do it in the garage. Try and keep, at minimum, 15 feet away from any type of a building. If you're going to do it, make sure you have all the utensils that come with the unit,” he said.

Rossiter said also make sure your turkey is completely defrosted before putting it in the hot oil.

If any frozen water molecules in the turkey come in contact with hot oil, they quickly turn to steam and cause the oil to overflow the pot, sometimes with very dangerous consequences, sending the oil right into the open flame.

CSA International tips for safe deep-frying

Setting up your deep fryer:

  • Ensure that your deep fryer has been certified by an accredited certification organization.
  • Turkey fryers should only be used outdoors and be placed at least three metres from structures (including garages, carports and overhangs), vehicles, and combustible materials.
  • Always use a turkey fryer on a level, stable, non-combustible surface, and never on a wooden deck or any structure that can catch fire.
  • Place the propane gas tank and fryer so that any wind blows the heat of the fryer away from the gas tank.

Cooking the turkey in the deep fryer:

  • Never cook a partially or fully frozen turkey! A frozen turkey can cause the oil to splatter and boil over, posing a potential risk of fire and burn injuries.
  • Dry the turkey — especially the cavity — before putting it in the oil.
  • When filling the pot with oil, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions and never overfill the turkey fryer. This can cause the oil to overflow, posing a potential risk of ignition from the burner flame.
  • Never heat the oil above 200 C (392 F) and always use the thermometer supplied with the turkey fryer to measure the oil temperature.
  • Slowly lower the turkey into hot oil with caution, being careful to avoid an overflow.
  • Use well-insulated oven mitts when touching a pot lid or handles as they can become extremely hot, posing a risk of burn injuries.
  • Never leave a turkey fryer unattended.
  • Young children and pets should be kept away from the area where turkey fryers are being used.