From the CPSC
Serious burns and fires, some causing death, have been associated with turkey fryers. Since the late 90s, much work has been done by government agencies and emergency response groups to curb statistics and encourage safety.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a majority of incidents occur while the oil is being heated, prior to adding the turkey. For that reason, officials with the CPSC say oil temperature should be monitored very closely. If any smoke is noticed come from a heating pot of oil, the burner should be turned off immediately because the oil is overheated.
There is also a risk of injury resulting from splashing due to the cooking of partially frozen meats. The turkey should be completely thawed and dry before cooking in hot oil.
The following guidelines are recommended:
• Keep fryer in FULL VIEW while burner is on.
• Place fryer in an open area AWAY from all walls, fences, or other structures.
• Never use IN, ON, or UNDER a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or any structure that can catch fire.
• Raise and lower food SLOWLY to reduce splatter and avoid burns.
• COVER bare skin when adding or removing food.
• Check the oil temperature frequently.
• If oil begins to smoke, immediately turn gas supply OFF.
• If a fire occurs, immediately call 911. DO NOT attempt to extinguish fire with water.
For safest operation, CPSC staff recommends that consumers follow these guidelines as they prepare to use a turkey fryer:
• Make sure there is at least 2 feet of space between the liquid propane tank and fryer burner.
• Place the liquid propane gas tank and fryer so that any wind blows the heat of the fryer away from the gas tank.
• Center the pot over the burner on the cooker.
• Completely thaw (USDA says 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds) and dry turkey before cooking. Partially frozen and/or wet turkeys can produce excessive hot oil splatter when added to the oil.
• Follow the manufacturer's instructions to determine the proper amount of oil to add. If those are not available:
o Place turkey in pot
o Fill with water until the turkey is covered by about 1/2 inch of water
o Remove and dry turkey
o Mark water level. Dump water, dry the pot, and fill with oil to the marked level.