ATLANTA (AP) — Local fire officials are issuing a warning to families taking part in a popular new Thanksgiving tradition: Be careful when frying your turkey.

The Gwinnett County Fire Department has tips for those looking to deep-fry the birds, a trend that has caught on, but proved dangerous for amateur backyard chefs.

Officials say turkey fryers can cause significant injury or ignite a serious fire if used improperly.

So they offer the following safety tips:

— Before deep-frying, the turkey should be allowed to thaw in the refrigerator for approximately 24 hours for every five pounds of bird.

Fresh turkeys are safer, but if a frozen turkey is used, it must be completely thawed. Placing a frozen turkey into hot oil could cause an explosion or cause oil to spill over and ignite a fire. Oil and water — including ice crystals — do not mix.

— Turkey fryers should be used on a flat, level surface and placed outdoors at a safe distance away from the house or combustible materials such as towels, food packaging materials or pot-holders.

Never use turkey fryers on a wooden deck or in a garage. Do not leave fryers unattended.

— Wear safety goggles to prevent oil splatter, and use cooking mitts or insulated pot-holders when touching the fryers’ pot or lid cover.

— Lower the turkey into the pot slowly. If the oil bubbles, allow the bubbles to settle before lowering the bird the rest of the way. Do not overfill the fryer with oil.

— Never allow the oil temperature to exceed 350 degrees, as oil can ignite at 375 degrees. The oil inside the fryer will be dangerously hot for hours after use, and should be allowed to cool completely before removing or storing.

— Keep a fire extinguisher nearby when frying a turkey.

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