Turkey Fryers — A Threat to Our National Security?

This holiday season, it’s important to be on the lookout for any threat to our personal and national security, everything from drunk drivers to terrorists and, the Department of Homeland Security would like to remind you, turkey fryers.

Fried turkey on fire
Source: Dept. of Homeland Security
Fried turkey on fire

That’s right, the Department of Homeland Security took time out from its busy airport-frisking, terrorist-busting schedule to issue a


“How dangerous can turkey fryers be?” the DHS asked on its Twitter page, along with a video of two firefighters and a guy in a hard hat doing a deep-fried turkey demonstration in a creepy warehouse that looks like it’s straight out of a CSI. You imagine they probably interrogated the hell out of that bird before they dropped him in the vat of oil with industrial tongs. (It makes you wonder if it’s a cautionary tale of turkey gone wrong or a veiled threat to would-be terrorists.)

If you want to know just how dangerous turkey fryers can be — just ask William Shatner. He stars in a PSA on turkey fryers in conjunction with State Farm Insurance that includes a dramatic re-enactment of his own turkey-fryer mishap, which ends with his arm on fire and him going “Ow! Ow! Ow!” (It’s a convincing re-enactment.)

Shatner confesses he loves deep-fried turkey but admits he almost burned the house down that time.

Hey, the guy went to outer space AND never pays full price for a hotel, so if it could happen to him you can bet your clip-on Spock ears it can happen to you, too.

The Shatner spot is aptly titled, “Eat, Fry Love” — a play on the best-selling book “Eat, Pray, Love” about one woman’s journey of self-discovery and recovery.

William Shatner's fried turkey fire
William Shatner's fried turkey fire

Of course, there will be the skeptics who aren’t convinced turkey fryers pose the biggest threat this holiday season.

“Which are more dangerous, turkey fryers or the turkeys in Washington?” one commenter wrote on the Washington Examiner’s web site after reading about the DHS warning.

If only it were so easy that you could call 9-1-1 to have someone come with a fire extinguisher to put out the national debt!

Underwriters Laboratories, the consumer-safety group that made the video DHS Tweeted, offers this list of safety tips if you’re planning to use a turkey fryer this holiday season. Of course, there’s also the National Turkey Federation and the famous Butterball Hotline.

After a Chicago-area man accidentally deep-fried his leg preparing 25 birds for a Thanksgiving feast earlier in the week, his doctor told the Chicago Sun-Times the most important tip — “Stay away from alcohol – it’s usually to blame.”

I’ll drink to that.

Have a safe and happy holiday everyone!

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  • Cindy Perman is a writer at CNBC.com, covering jobs, real estate, retirement and personal finance.

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.