CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- One of the best parts of summer is firing up the grill.

But according to Tom Waters, M.D., an emergency department physician at Cleveland Clinic, the backyard grill can often land folks in the emergency room with minor to severe burns.

He said the best way to avoid getting hurt is to think safety first.

“You want to make sure that you are very careful when lighting the grill,” said Dr. Waters. “Keep the lid up when lighting the grill. And if you’re unsuccessful on the first attempt at lighting it, you should shut it off, let it air out and then start over and try again.”

In the event of a grease fire or a flare on the grill, Dr. Waters said it’s best to shut off the gas, move the food and close the lid to try and suffocate the fire to avoid getting burned or having the fire spread.

For those who do happen to sustain a burn, Dr. Waters notes that the first thing to do is cool the burn, either by submerging the burn in cool water or applying ice.

The quicker it is cooled, the less damage there will be to the skin.

He said that with a very serious burn, blistering can appear almost immediately. With minor burns, it can take anywhere from hours to a day for blisters to appear.

Dr. Waters advises against popping a blister because it actually acts as a dressing for the wound. Instead, keep it covered and clean to prevent infection.

If a burn becomes infected, it can penetrate deeper into the skin and make the problem worse. And if the burn is more serious, such as a burn on the face or one that wraps around an entire extremity, Dr. Waters said it’s time to seek medical care.

“If it’s more than the size of your palm or if you feel like it’s very deep, and it’s blistering up a lot, you’re going to want to go to the emergency department and seek care,” said Dr. Waters.