FARMINGTON – It’s that magical time of year again, when relatives near and far gather to toss a bird into a vat of hot oil. And to prevent your house, garage or eyebrows from getting singed, Farmington and San Juan County fire departments and San Juan College partnered to create a video illustrating what not to do.
Perhaps most importantly, defrost those birds, folks. “You can’t start with frozen turkey,” warned Brandy Vega, Farmington fire marshal.
Although if you’re just starting, you might be a bit behind the game, according to Vega. With one day of defrost time needed for every 4 pounds of bird, “a 16-pound turkey is going to take four days in the refrigerator to thaw,” she said.
According to insurance claim data from State Farm, more than a third of the deep-fryer accidents happen in a garage or on a patio. Which is why Vega urges people to “fry your bird outside. Make sure it is not near buildings and the area is free from flammable debris.”
So your bird is defrosted and your fryer is set up outside. Next, Vega warns against overfilling the pot with too much oil. “As oil flows over the side of the pot, it catches fire and becomes a pretty big fireball real quick,” Vega said.
The warnings, while seemingly an annual pre-Thanksgiving ritual, are not without good reason. The number of residential fires on Thanksgiving Day is more than double the average number of fires in residential buildings on all other days throughout the year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. This leads to an estimated $15 million in property damage, 60 injuries and five deaths each year in the country, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
“When you have an emergency like this, things get out of hand very quickly,” Vega said.
Farmington Fire Department encourages anyone experiencing an emergency to call 911 immediately and get to safety.