Shocking Video Shows What Can Go Wrong When Deep Fat Frying a Turkey

Consumer safety authorities have shared a terrifying video that shows turkeys going up in flames in a bid to raise awareness of the risks of deep frying this holiday season.

In the footage posted on social media by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, three bulky turkeys are seen being lowered into large fry pots.

Seconds after the turkeys hit the oil, flames begin to spread. Porches and surrounding areas are quickly set ablaze.

Photos of a turkey catching fire
Split image of a turkey catching fire. The video has been watched more than 3 million times in one day. USCPSC

In one particularly frightening scene, a turkey is lowered into an indoor fry pot and fire rapidly spreads to the ceiling and across the walls.

The video is captioned: "Cook the turkey, not your home." It was shared on November 23 and has since been watched more than 3 million times. The post has more than 73,000 likes.

The U.S. Fire Administration, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, says an average of 2,300 fires were reported in residential buildings on Thanksgiving Day in each year from 2017 to 2019. This is more than double the average figure for other days of the year.

The agency added: "These fires caused an estimated annual average of five deaths, 25 injuries and $26 million in property loss."

Cooking "was, by far, the leading cause of all Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings," according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

To prevent accidents, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued the following advice: "If you're frying your turkey this year, make sure it is thawed. Follow the manufacturer instructions for using your fryer. Only fry a turkey outside and away from your home. Never use turkey fryers in the garage or on the porch."

The National Fire Protection Association also pointed out that cooking was the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries reported between 2015 and 2019.

It said: "Cooking caused 49 percent of reported home fires, 20 percent of reported home fire deaths and 42 percent of home fire injuries. Thanksgiving was the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve."

If the flaming turkey videos have dissuaded you from using the deep fat fryer this Thanksgiving, there are other options.

Air fryers have gained huge popularity in recent years and some chefs say they can even cook your Thanksgiving centerpiece.

Jenna Moran, a former chef who now runs a recipe website, previously told Newsweek: "Personally, I think air frying a turkey is a great way of cooking one of our favorite birds.

"Air fryers aren't just more economical than frying traditionally. They also are a healthier way to make your family favorites. The lack of oil needed for the cooking is clearly a major reason as to why it's healthier."

Moran added that she would not advise people to deep fry turkeys: "Firstly, the meat can become really dry and overcooked very quickly, so unless you're a deep frying pro, it's not the best route to take."

"If you like plenty of seasoning on and in the turkey, chances are the heat needed for deep frying will burn the seasoning, sometimes creating a really bitter taste. If you aren't a regular deep fryer, you can also pose a huge fire hazard. With the amount of oil and heat needed for the bird, the chances of spillages are high, so make sure you're doing it in a safe environment."