"I tripped and fell right into the deep fryer and basically fried myself," Serafino Alfe of Mount Prospect, Ill., said in a statement.
Alfe was volunteering last year by deep-frying turkeys in 30 quarts of scalding oil at a charity fundraiser.
"I have used a deep fryer for many years but last year I caught my shoe on the edge of some cardboard under a fryer," he explained. "We were using the older models that did not have secure lids and gallons of hot oil poured everywhere -- including over my leg and upper body."
He was taken to the Burn and Shock Trauma Institute at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., where he has undergone several surgeries.
"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," said Dr. Thomas Esposito, chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "Injuries from turkey fryers are rare, but when they happen to you or a family member, that doesn't matter -- they are very devastating."
If planning to use a turkey fryer, Esposito suggested:
-- Use the newer fryers with sealed lids to prevent oil spills. Turkey fryers can ignite in seconds after oil hits the burner.
-- Keep children and pets away.
-- Place the fryer in an open area away from all walls, fences or other structures, never in, on, or under a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, deck or any other structure that can catch fire. Keep it in full view.
-- Slowly raise and lower the turkey to reduce hot-oil splatter.
-- Never cook in short sleeves, shorts or bare feet. Protect eyes with goggles or glasses.
-- Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water can cause oil to spill creating a fire or even an explosion.
-- Have a fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it. Never use water to douse a turkey fryer fire.