The No. 1 State for Deep-Frying Turkey Accidents Is…

Thanksgiving is the most popular day for grease-fueled cooking mishaps in the United States.

National Journal
Marina Koren
Nov. 27, 2013, 2 a.m.

Today, deep-fried food is al­most as Amer­ic­an as apple pie — which, in­cid­ent­ally, can be dunked in­to a vat of oil and emerge with a greasy, crunchy coat­ing, along with al­most any kind of food. So it’s no sur­prise that, for some, deep-fry­ing a tur­key is a Thanks­giv­ing tra­di­tion.

That tra­di­tion can be a risky one. Each year, deep-fry­ing large birds back­fires for dozens of Amer­ic­ans.

For the last sev­en years, Texas has led the coun­try in most grease- and cook­ing-re­lated in­sur­ance claims on Thanks­giv­ing Day, with 38, ac­cord­ing to in­sur­ance com­pany State Farm. The run­ner-up is Illinois, with 27 re­ports. Pennsylvania and Ohio are tied for third with 23, while New York trails them with 22 claims. South Car­o­lina and Geor­gia tal­lied 16 claims each.

More cook­ing fires oc­cur on Thanks­giv­ing Day than any oth­er day of the year, ac­cord­ing to State Farm data. More than a third start in a gar­age or patio. Each year, fire de­part­ments re­spond to more than 1,000 fires re­lated to deep fry­ers. These blazes cause more than $15 mil­lion in prop­erty dam­age an­nu­ally, not to men­tion ser­i­ous burn in­jur­ies.

Most deep-fry­ing mis­haps are pre­vent­able. This year, State Farm en­lis­ted Duck Dyn­asty‘s heav­ily bearded Si and Jase Robertson, ex­per­i­enced duck hunters, to out­line in a video some safety tips for prop­erly cook­ing tur­keys in tubs of oil (last year, the hon­or went to Wil­li­am Shat­ner). “Hang on a minute and think be­fore you fry,” goes the motto. The ten­ets of deep fry­ing: Thaw the bird com­pletely, cook out­doors and away from any­thing flam­mable, and don’t leave the ap­pli­ance un­at­ten­ded while the tur­key is fry­ing.

Thank­fully, the rate of fry­ing ac­ci­dents is cool­ing down. Cook­ing-fire claims de­clined from 66 in 2010 to 29 in 2012, which State Farm says is the low­est num­ber of claims in a dec­ade. The list of in­gredi­ents and foods that can be deep-fried, however, is only grow­ing.

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