Recent reports are showing an unprecedented rise of acid attacks within the UK, with an average of two attacks being reported each day across the country. With no signs of this barbaric act slowing down, here are the necessary actions to take if you witness or fall victim to a chemical burn from acid.
Call 999 immediately. While you can provide some assistance to the victim, it’s critical to get professionals on the scene as soon as possible.
Sit the victim down on the ground. If the victim is still standing post-attack, it is likely that they will be disoriented and in a great deal of pain. To prevent a possible head injury, help them into a sitting or lying down position.
Put on gloves or cover your hands with fabric. If you happen to have a pair of gloves on you, then put them on right away. Otherwise, remove your shirt or find another piece of fabric to wrap around your hands multiple times. This will protect your hands from coming into contact with the acid as you render assistance to the victim.
Remove any contaminated clothing. As long as the acid stays on clothing, it will continue to burn through and could reach the skin. Carefully take off or cut away any fabric that has been touched by the acid. Place the clothing far away from the victim and caution other people to leave it alone.
(Be careful not to spread the acid from the clothing to other parts of the skin. This is why it may be best to cut or tear away the clothing in some cases. If the clothing is stuck to the victim’s skin, then don’t try to remove it or you could rip their skin. Instead, keep it completely saturated with clean water)
Take off any contaminated jewellery. Remove any rings, necklaces, or bracelets that might have come into contact with the acid. Even the smallest jewellery item could continue to damage the skin if it has acid on it.
Flush the injured area with water. Get a water hose, open tap, or shower and soak the victim with fresh, clean water. Continue to pour water on the areas with acid for 20 minutes at least. Rotate the stream of water, so that the acid is pushed away from the victim’s body and onto the ground.
The water must be clean or you risk causing an infection within the forming burns.
(If you only have a water bottle, go ahead and use it on the wounds. However, yell out to others for more water or move the victim closer to a water source)
Rinse out an affected eye by holding it under running water. If acid gets into the eye, it can burn through the cornea and cause blindness. If you suspect that the victim’s eye has acid on it, have them bend their head downwards. Pour a stream of clean water over the eye for 20 minutes or as long as possible.
Move the victim away from the flushed water. If the person is lying or sitting on the ground, don’t let them lie in a pool of water after rinsing them off. You may need to move them a few times during the rinsing process. If they can stand with assistance at the water’s source, such as a shower, then that is even better.