A Mount Prospect man who was preparing an early turkey meal will miss the big day after a deep-frying accident badly burned his leg, requiring an operation scheduled for the day before Thanksgiving.
Serafino Alfe, 30, was deep-frying turkeys for an annual fundraiser when he stumbled into a vat of hot oil, CBS Chicago reports. Alfe was treated at the Loyola Burn Unit with third-degree burns, the most severe, across one of his legs.
"I tripped and fell right into the deep fryer," Alfe said in a release issued by Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. "Thirty quarts of hot oil poured over my leg and I basically fried myself."
The Medical Center issued a news release Monday telling Alfe's story and warning of the dangers associated with deep-frying, especially for inexperienced chefs. More than 141 serious fires and hot-oil burns have been reported in the United States from turkey fryer use over the last decade, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Thanksgiving is the leading day for cooking fires, with three times as many as on an average day, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Alfe told Fix Chicago he has used a deep fryer for years, but caught his shoe on a piece of cardboard placed under the fryers, stumbling into the hot oil, Fox Chicago reports. Outdated equipment also contributed to the accident.
"We were using the older fryers that do not have a secure lid and the gallons of hot oil just splattered out everywhere," Alfe said in the Loyola release.
Dr. Thomas Esposito, chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery at Loyola Trauma, warned against the severity of burns sustained from deep-fryers in the medical center's release. He advised anyone planning to deep-fry food this Thanksgiving to use new, sealed fryers placed in open areas, to wear protective clothing and eyewear, to avoid overfilling fryers with oil and replace and remove food items from the oil slowly.
Cooks should also be mindful of marinades and turkey preparations that may introduce water into the hot oil, a dangerous combination, according to the medical center.
"If a turkey fryer is used the way it's supposed to be used by people who are not impaired by alcohol or drugs, I think they're fine," Esposito said. "Injuries from turkey fryers are rare, but when they happen to you or a family member, that doesn't matter – they are very devastating."
William Shatner recorded a warning about turkey fryer fire risks for State Farm: