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  • Writer's picturejoseph retcho

Turkey Frying Insurance?

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

roasted turkey on table

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, which means you're probably fantasizing about turkey, pumpkin pie, and all the other delectable treats associated with this beloved holiday. If you're the one cooking, you might make grocery lists and menu plans. Make time to think about safety as part of your planning, especially regarding house fires.

Nobody expects the turkey to start a fire, but Thanksgiving is the most common day for house fires in the United States. On Thanksgiving Day 2022, fire departments responded to about 2300 cooking fires which resulted in 5 deaths, 60 injuries and over $15 million in property damage due to turkey fryer fires. As a result, it is well worth taking precautions to avoid a Thanksgiving cooking fire. You'll also want to make sure that if a fire breaks out, your homeowners' insurance will cover the damage.

Examine Your Insurance Policy

Homeowners insurance should cover any fire-related damage to your home and possessions. It should also cover medical costs if any of your Thanksgiving guests are injured in the fire. However, it never hurts to double-check your policy to ensure you have fire coverage before Thanksgiving.

Check your deductible as well. This is the amount you must pay out of pocket before your homeowners' insurance company will pay out on a claim. If you do have a turkey fire, you should make sure you can afford your deductible. If your deductible is higher than you can afford, now is a good time to look for a new policy.

Finally, check to see if your homeowners' insurance policy includes any limitations relating to negligence. Some policies may not cover house fires caused by the homeowner's or guests' negligence. In some cases, drinking alcohol while cooking or leaving the oven unattended may be considered negligence. Contact your insurance agent for clarification if your policy is unclear about how negligence will affect a fire damage claim. Before Thanksgiving, you should be aware of the rules that must be followed.

In the kitchen, take precautions.

Of course, even if you have the best homeowners' insurance policy available, you don't want Thanksgiving to end in a house fire. As a result, it's critical to follow safety precautions when cooking your bird.

1. Avoid leaving hot surfaces unattended.

According to the NFPA, the leading cause of Thanksgiving cooking fires was unattended cooking. It may be tempting to leave the kitchen and mingle with guests while the turkey roasts, but this is a recipe for disaster. If you must leave the kitchen while your oven or another appliance is on, appoint someone to keep an eye on it until you return.

2. Always have a fire extinguisher on hand.

If you don't already have a kitchen fire extinguisher, now is the time to get one. Some insurance companies will even give you a policy discount if you have a fire extinguisher. Make certain that everyone in your household understands how to use it. You'll be able to put out a small fire before it causes too much damage.

3. Place an extra pan beneath the turkey.

If the fat from your turkey drips into the bottom of your oven, you could end up with a grease fire. To avoid this, place an extra sheet pan on the rack beneath your turkey. The pan will catch any stray drippings, preventing them from ending up in your oven's heat element.

4. Avoid drinking and cooking.

As previously stated, if a cooking fire occurs while you are intoxicated, you may be found negligent, which may affect your insurance coverage. So, save the alcohol until the oven is turned off and the meal is ready.

5. Keep flammable items away from burners and flames.

When you're preparing multiple dishes at once and your house is full of guests, the kitchen can become a little cluttered. A stray oven mitt or towel can easily be pushed into a flame and start a fire. A simple way to avoid this is to keep your oven mitts and kitchen towels in a separate location. That area should be kept well away from any heating elements. As soon as you're done with your mitts and towels, place them there.

6. Use your phone to set multiple timers.

When you're cooking multiple dishes, it's easy to leave something on the stove or in the oven. Set timers on your smartphone for each dish to avoid overcooking and potentially starting a fire. You're less likely to leave something on for too long if you use multiple timers.

turkey fire

Some Thoughts on Deep Frying

Fried turkey is delicious, and for some families, deep frying turkey in the backyard has become a Thanksgiving tradition. Homeowners insurance should cover damage caused by fires that start in your deep fryer if you followed the manufacturer's instructions and were not negligent while using the fryer. However, if you intend to fry a turkey, call your homeowners' insurance company and double-check your coverage.

Also, keep in mind that frying a turkey is riskier than cooking it inside. In 2019, a deep-frying turkey caught fire, displacing 27 people in New Bedford, Massachusetts. If you choose to deep fry, you must exercise extreme caution to avoid fires. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

Before frying, make sure your turkey is completely thawed. Turkeys that are still frozen can cause the hot oil to spatter and catch fire.

  • Keep your fryer as far away from your house, outbuildings, woodpiles, and other structures as possible.

  • Fill the fryer no more than halfway. Overfilling the container can cause hot oil to bubble up over the edge, causing a fire.

  • Children should not be allowed near the fryer. In fact, you should keep all children inside and closely supervised from the moment the fryer is turned on.

  • From the moment you turn on the fryer, keep a close eye on it. Never leave it alone.

  • Always keep a dry powder fire extinguisher near the fryer. This type of fire extinguisher is ideal for extinguishing grease fires.

As Thanksgiving approaches, a good homeowners insurance policy should provide you with peace of mind. While house fires are more common on Thanksgiving, there are many precautions you can take to avoid them. It's also a good idea to double-check your insurance policy to ensure you're covered if the worst happens. If you discover that your policy is inadequate or that your deductible is too high, now is the time to make a change.

Please contact us if you are looking for homeowners insurance or would like to learn more about your options.

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