Safety Tips for Cooking with Grease and Oil

Author: Jason W. Konvicka, Richmond, VA Personal Injury Attorney

Safety Tips for Cooking with Grease and OilThis holiday season, many Americans will attempt to deep fry with oil or cook with grease to prepare their meals. While these are effective methods that often result in tasty meals, many dangers can arise out of these cooking techniques. Home cooks should take extra care when using oil or grease to prepare their meals.

Using oil for cooking or frying can be very dangerous. More than 40 percent of range or stove fires began as a result of cooking oil ignition. 25 percent of all the home fires reported between 2007 and 2011 were started by fat or grease. The number of injuries caused by fat or grease fires was even higher.  One third of all injuries from home fires resulted from these fires.[1]

When cooking with hot oil or grease, home chefs should consider the following safety tips:

  • Grease and oils should be heated slowly to the desired temperature. Know the required temperature for the chosen cooking method before starting the process, and gradually heat the grease or oil to that temperature.
  • Once the substance is hot, the food should be added slowly and gently into the pan. Dropping an item or releasing it too quickly can result in dangerous oil splatter that can cause serious injuries.
  • The cook should always remain in the kitchen whenever food is on the stovetop. Always having an eye on it will help prevent dangerous oil fires.
  • A lid should be kept next to the stovetop on which the meal is being cooked. In the event of a fire, placing the lid over the pan can suffocate the flames.
  • Signs of a fire include smoke emanating from the liquid and a strong smell, though it may take several minutes for a fire to actually ignite.
  • If there is a fire that cannot easily be contained, everyone should be evacuated from the house and the fire department should be called. Water should never be used in an attempt to extinguish a grease fire.[2]

Deep-frying a frozen turkey can be incredibly dangerous. Anyone attempting to deep-fry a turkey should consider the following:

  • Never use a deep fryer inside. Always cook outside, at least ten feet from any houses or other structures. The frying mechanism should be placed on a level surface in an open area away from any water sources.
  • The size of the fry-pot and the amount of the oil used should be determined prior to cooking. These will depend on the size of the bird being fried. 
  • The fryer should be off and completely dry when the oil is poured inside.
  • The turkey needs to be completely thawed before submersion. Oil and water do not mix, and any left over ice or slush can result in a dangerous explosion of hot oil. If the oil spills over onto the burner, the entire mixture can ignite.
  • Once the oil is heated, the turkey should be slowly lowered into the pot. Dropping it or inserting it too quickly can result in spillage and ignition of the oil.
  • It is a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher handy. Water should never be used in the event of a fire due to the adverse reaction it will have with the oil.
  • Once the cooking is complete, the fryer should be given enough time to cool completely before being emptied or cleaned. This takes approximately two hours.[3]

Cooking with oil or grease can result in delicious meals, but there are a number of risks involved. Anyone considering one of these methods should look into the dangers before beginning the process. Not all risks can be avoided, but being prepared can greatly reduce the likelihood of injury.

If you or a loved one has been burned as the result of negligence of others, contact the personal injury law firm of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen. A free consultation with one of our attorneys can help guide you through the legal process of pursing a claim against those responsible for any injury.

About The Author: Jason Konvicka is a partner and trial attorney with Allen & Allen in Richmond, Virginia. During his 20+ year career, he has achieved numerous record-setting jury verdicts and substantial settlements on behalf of his clients. His practice focuses on medical malpractice, bus accidents and product liability personal injury cases. Outside of the courtroom, Jason is involved with the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and currently serves on its Board of Governors as Vice President.


[1] http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/causes/cooking/safety-messages-about-cooking

[2] http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/causes/cooking/safety-messages-about-cooking; http://www.thekitchn.com/kitchen-safety-how-to-put-out-138233

[3] http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/65f762d0-e4d0-4278-b5cb-2836854a3eda/Deep_Fat_Frying.pdf?MOD=AJPERES; http://www.pbs.org/food/features/five-safety-tips-for-deep-frying-turkey/; http://www.thekitchn.com/kitchen-safety-how-to-put-out-138233; http://www.al.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2014/11/turkey_frying_gone_bad_what_no.html

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