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William Shatner and State Farm warn about fryer fire dangers

More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year, according to State Farm. In fact, grease- and cooking-related insurance claims more than double on Thanksgiving Day compared with an average day in November.

In 2011, home insurance company State Farm has enlisted "Star Trek" and "Boston Legal" star William Shatner to help spread the word about the dangers of using a turkey fryer. Shatner appears in a State Farm-produced "docudrama" series online that recounts his turkey-frying adventures and offers safety tips.

turkey fryer william shatner “I love to fry turkey and have been doing it for years, but I am not immune to frying accidents,” Shatner says in a State Farm news release.

“In fact, my family now gathers together to watch my mishaps. Several years ago, I was even burned on my arms after accidentally dropping the turkey in the hot oil. People need to remember that hot oil and turkey can be a dangerous combination.”

U.S. fire departments respond to more than 1,000 fires each year involving deep fryers. The National Fire Protection Association says deep fryer fires result in more than $15 million in property damage each year.

Shatner’s "docudrama" can be seen on State Farm's YouTube channel. Fans are encouraged to join Shatner’s “Fryers Club” by liking or commenting on the video.

“Ignorance is the friend of accidents,” Shatner says. “Be enemies with ignorance.”

According to State Farm data, the top 10 states for grease- and cooking-related claims on Thanksgiving Day for 2005-10 are:

  1. Texas -- 36 claims
  2. Illinois -- 24
  3. Ohio -- 21
  4. New York -- 17
  5. Pennsylvania -- 17
  6. Michigan -- 15
  7. Florida -- 14
  8. Minnesota -- 14
  9. Indiana -- 13
  10. Louisiana -- 12

State Farm offers these tips for preventing turkey fryer fires:

  • More than one-third of fires involving a fryer start in a garage or patio. Cook outdoors at a safe distance from any buildings or trees, and keep the fryer off any wooden structures, such as a deck or patio.
  • Avoid a hot oil spillover by first filling the pot with cold oil and then lowering the thawed turkey into the pot to determine how much oil should be added or removed.
  • Shut off the fuel source or flame when adding the turkey to the hot oil to prevent a dangerous flare-up if oil does spill over the rim.
  • Make sure your turkey is properly thawed before lowering it slowly into the pot.
  • Never leave a hot turkey fryer unattended.
  • Do not use ice or water to cool down oil or extinguish an oil fire.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

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