MAYWOOD, Ill. (CBS) – One minute, a Mount Prospect man was cooking a turkey. The next, his leg was burning in bubbling, hot oil.
A thick wrapping of bandages covers the surface where hot oil burned its way through Serafino Alfe’s leg. It runs from his knee all the way to his ankle and the top of his foot.
“I got a little careless and caused an accident,” the 86-year-old told CBS 2’s Pamela Jones. “That’s what accidents are. You’ve got to be very, very careful.”
Earlier this month, Alfe was helping to cook 25 turkeys in fryers for a memorial golf event to honor a late friend. He tripped over an electrical cord, and a fryer fell over, sloshing 350-degree oil all over the place.
Alfe tried to run away from the spill but got hit with some of oil.
“It’s just like putting me into a broiler, that’s what happened. It was bad,” Alfe said Monday from his bed at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.
After he removed clothing to inspect his leg, Alfe says he didn’t feel as if he was seriously hurt. But paramedics who inspected his wounds told him he needed to go to the hospital, he said.
Dr. Richard Gamelli, director of Loyola’s burn unit, says the savory food everyone is cooking this season makes it easy to forget the danger of the heat.
“If it’s hot enough to cook food — the grease — obviously, your tissue is going to do the same thing,” he says.
He says cooks who are preparing turkeys in fryers should always keep the cooking devices in full view while they’re on. He says they should also wear clothes that cover any bare skin.
If you get burned, go to the doctor, Gamelli says.
Alfe and his wife will spend Thanksgiving in the hospital — thankful his injuries aren’t worse.
He’ll go into surgery Friday morning for skin grafts. It could be three months before he’s able to move around freely again and up to a year for the scars to fully heal, Gamelli says.
High-profile warnings about turkey fryers have been hitting the media this season, most notably a video clip from State Farm insurance featuring William Shatner.
In the clip, Shatner, who himself was burned and nearly set his house on fire with a turkey fryer, melodramatically recalls his harrowing experience. The video goes on to list several safety tips, and shows how easily a fire can result from mistakes.