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State offers tips, videos about turkey fryer dangers

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WILLMAR -- The Minnesota Department of Commerce urges Thanksgiving chefs to be extra cautious if deep frying a turkey on Thursday.

Minnesota ranks eighth in the nation for the number of cooking-related insurance claim submissions on Thanksgiving Day. Grease and oil fires from turkey fryers contribute to an annual spike in holiday insurance claims.

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"Every year, Minnesotans suffer serious injury and damage to their homes from deep frying turkeys," said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman in a news release.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that U.S. fire departments respond to more than 1,000 fires each year caused by turkey fryers, resulting in $15 million in property damage and injuries.

The release directs people to watch two dramatic William Shatner videos that highlight the dangers of deep frying turkeys.

Shatner has teamed with State Farm Insurance in recent years to make the public service videos. A year ago, Shattner appeared in "Eat, Fry, Love." This year, he also appears in "Eat, Fry, Love: A Cautionary Remix."

Not one to avoid dramatics, according to Shatner: "Fire, metal, oil, and turkey are glorious when in harmony. But their power is unrelenting in careless hands."

The department urges Minnesotans to take a few minutes and make this video part of their family holiday tradition.

Find "Eat, Fry, Love," on You Tube at http://bit.ly/QWBHS6. The video is 3 minutes, 41 seconds long.

"Eat, Fry, Love: A Cautionary Remix," is at http://bit.ly/UgsRvX and runs 2 minutes, 50 seconds.

Both videos are linked here.

The Department of Commerce also urges people to create a home inventory of possessions, an important tool to recover losses if items are damaged or destroyed in a fire.

The department issued this list of tips to avoid fryer mishaps on Thanksgiving:

* Watch Shatner's videos to understand the dangers.

* Don't do it: The National Fire Protection Association discourages the use of outdoor, oil-based turkey fryers. For those who enjoy their turkey fried, buy directly from a grocery store or restaurant or consider turkey fryers that don't use oil.

* Location, location, location: If you are going to deep fry a turkey, make sure you do so outdoors on a flat, hard surface a safe distance away from buildings and other property.

* Easy does it: Don't overfill the fryer with cooking oil. Take into account the amount of oil that will be displaced by the turkey itself and don't forget about the steam and bubbles that will eventually factor in.

* Don't slack off: Never leave the fryer unattended and make sure to keep children and pets away. Keep an eye on the pot's temperature and turn it off immediately if it begins to smoke.

* Don't bring water to a grease fight: If an oil and grease fire does occur, do not try to put it out with water. Have a fire distinguisher on hand and be prepared to call 9-1-1.

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