Deep-frying a turkey can be a fun and uniquely Southern way to turn Thanksgiving into a day your guests won't forget. And that's a good thing, as long as you're careful not to turn it into a trauma they wish they could forget. 

As local firefighters can attest, a number of seemingly inconsequential details can very quickly turn your main Thanksgiving dish into a 20-pound ball of oil-fueled flames. And unlike their mythical cousin the phoenix, turkeys aren't known to rise from their ashes after the fact. Neither are your carports, garages or uncles. 

Check out this compilation of (literally) vital dos and don'ts before you fry your bird this year 

The don'ts 

  • Do not fill your pot or fryer with too much oil, and don't drop the bird in so quickly that it causes the oil to splash or spill from the pot.
  • Do not fry a turkey indoors or near any buildings or structures attached to a building. Garages, carports, decks and porches should be avoided at all costs. 
  • Do not stuff a turkey you intend to fry. It's best to keep this simple, to avoid any and all unexpected flaming reactions. 
  • Do not fry a frozen turkey. 
  • Do not use a pot lid when frying your turkey.
  • If a fire starts, do not spray water onto it, as this could splash and spread the burning oil. 
  • Never leave your pot, fryer or hot oil unattended. Allow your oil to cool completely before disposal. 

St. Tammany Parish Fire Department No. 1 has been kind enough throughout the years to demonstrate what can happen if you make some of these mistakes. 

The dos

  • Keep pot holders and a fire extinguisher nearby. 
  • Set up your fryer outside on a level patch of dirt or a grassy area, far from any structures or buildings. 
  • Consider going small your first year. The National Turkey Federation says smaller turkeys, weighing 8 to 10 pounds, are easier to fry.
  • Use oils that have high smoke points, like peanut, canola and sunflower. 
  • Determine how much oil you'll need before you bring heat into the equation. To do this, place the turkey in the basket and place both in the pot. Pour water in the pot until it rises one to two inches above the turkey, mark that spot, empty the water and add oil to the mark. 
  • Drop the turkey slowlllllyyyy. Consider getting a friend to help with the drop. 

If you're a first-timer, check out our step-by-step video below with Norm Bourgeois of King Kooker in Jefferson. The National Turkey Federation also has a fairly extensive guide to turkey frying

Guidelines for deep-frying turkeys detailed

Louis Negrotto, and Brien Lundin pull cooked turkeys up as members of the Dawn Busters Kiwanis Club and Krewe of Carrollton fry up hundreds of turkeys at the Metairie Lions Club Wednesday, November 23, 2011 in Metairie. More than 650 turkeys weighing 12-14 pounds were Cajun injected, and fried. The turkey fry is one of the club's major fundraisers for the year, raising money for various community service projects. (Brett Duke, | The Times-Picayune archive)