Fire officials: This may not be the year to fry a turkey

Expected rainy weather creates unsafe deep-frying conditions


Turkeys are for sale, Christmas tree lots are popping up around the Valley and emergency medical technicians are hoping Phoenicians practice safe habits this holiday season, Phoenix Fire Department officials say.

Expected rain could spell disaster if you are planning on frying that turkey.

Fire officials highly recommend Phoenicians do not fry their turkeys this year, because “water and oil don’t mix,” said Brian Scholl, a Phoenix Fire Department inspector.

On Monday morning, Phoenix Fire Department held a media event to demonstrate the dangers of frying a turkey improperly and burn injuries related to cooking during the holiday season.

Scholl who was on site Monday said, “we tried to show everything wrong. For instance, what could happen if you use a frozen turkey, too much oil, etc.”

Kevin Foster, the director of the Arizona Burn Center at Valleywise Health Medical Center said the No. 1 thing to have awareness of: Are children in the kitchen running around?

“Children can easily reach up onto the stove, where hot food is cooking or accidentally pull sharp objects off the counter,” Foster said.

The National Fire Protection Association identifies Thanksgiving as the peak day for home cooking fires.

Overall the Arizona Burn Center at Valleywise Health Medical Center does not experience an increase in burn incidents from year to year other than a gentle increase based on population growth, Foster said.

“Unfortunately, we see a significant increase in patients between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Foster said.

Christmas also carries its fair share of injuries including falling from ladders, cooking-related injuries and Christmas tree fires.

“We have already had one injury with someone falling off their ladder, while attempting to hang Christmas decorations,” Scholl said.

However, a more common injury related to winter holidays are Christmas tree fires. The Arizona Burn Center at Valleywise Health Medical Center reports that 39% of Christmas tree fires started in the living room.

Scholl said it is best to get your Christmas tree as close to Christmas as possible, so they do not dry out.

In order to avoid these holiday fires, the National Fire Protection Association suggests:

  • Buying a Christmas tree as close to the holiday as possible.
  • When selecting your tree, make sure to select one with green needles that do not fall off when touched. (This is a sign of a dry tree --- which is more flammable.)
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source.
  • Be sure to water daily.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

Editor’s Note: Mary Louise Long is a student reporter at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.