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Acid attack advice

Following a recent increase in incidents involving acid and corrosive substances the Government have released a set of guidelines about the first steps to take in the event of an acid attack to help before clinical assistance arrives.

The Report, Remove and Rinse guidelines could make all the difference in the immediate aftermath of an attack, we have created a printable sheet of guidance for people to follow if they ever find themselves in this situation and suggest people familiarise themselves with it:

If you are unlucky enough to witness a corrosive attack, urgent action can considerably reduce the severity of the injury, prevent blindness and scarring. The NHS gives advice to `Report, Remove and Rinse` and here are our guidelines based on their recommendations.

REPORT – Call 999 but ask for the fire service too!

When calling 999 you might only think about asking for the police and ambulance but ask for the fire service too if you don’t have lots of running water available. The Fire Service often arrive first and are equipped to deal with burns of all types.

TIP : If available ask 3 people to call 999 – 1 to ask for each service, this should speed up response times.

Stay Safe – Remember the most important thing is to look after yourself
Stay well clear of any attacker – run if you have to and don’t get involved in any argument
Protect yourself – Make sure you don’t come in to contact with the chemical. Ask the casualty to remove their own clothing if possible so you don’t get contaminated too.
If you don’t have protective gloves placing plastic bags over your hands might help prevent contact.
Make sure the area is well ventilated. Open windows and doors or move outside if possible.

REMOVE – Contaminated Clothing

All contaminated clothing needs removing urgently:
Use scissors to cut away clothing if you can

Ideally ask the casualty to remove their own clothing while trying to avoid touching the areas that are contaminated.

If you have to pull clothing over the head pull the back of the top over the head to avoid contaminating the face
Pile contaminated clothes in a safe place or in a bin and off BEFORE rinsing with water. Use clean clothes or paper towels to do this. Lightly brush do not rub or wipe

RINSE – Continuously with water

As soon as possible rinse the affected area continuously with clean water to wash the chemical off. The longer it takes to do this the deeper the burns will go so make every effort to find a water supply quickly.

Ideally use clean running water but whatever you have is better than delaying treatment to find a perfect water supply. You might be able to start treatment now and then move the casualty once a better water supply is found.

Irrigating the face and eyes should take priority

Try not to spread the chemical as you wash it off – get the contaminated part of the body as low as possible so that the water runs away from the unaffected parts and doesn’t pool on the skin. Avoid contamination from one eye to the other.

DO NOT try to wipe the chemical off as this may rub it in or spread it.

Carefully remove jewellery – chemicals can get underneath jewellery and rings need removing before fingers swell.

Using lukewarm water (rather than cold) helps to avoid hypothermia but using cold water is better than none

If you use a hose keep the pressure low so you don’t drive the chemical deeper or splash it on anyone

Irrigation with water needs to continue for a MINIMUM OF 20 MINUTES. Try to make a note of the time you started as this information can be useful for emergency services.

CORROSIVES IN EYES
The eyes are extremely vulnerable and corrosives can cause blindness so careful irrigation of eyes is a high priority.
If only one eye is affected make sure water runs away from the good eye

Irrigate eyes inside and out. If needed wear protective gloves and gently but firmly open the eyelid(S) to irrigate the eye(s) fully.

Irrigate the eyes for at least 20 minutes. This may not be easy but blindness is worse

Ideally contact lenses need to be removed. The safest way to do this is to flush them out with water. Never try to forcibly remove a contact lens and never try to take one out with contaminated fingers.