Acid attack first aid

Approx read: 2 mins

What do you do in an acid attack?

The NHS has published first aid advice on how to help the victim of an acid attack.

Though still rare, corrosive substance attacks are on the rise. The NHS, along with the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) suggests a 3-step regimen for acid attack victims and first responders: report, remove and rinse. Like stop, drop and roll, one hopes one never needs it. But in the rare but serious situation of bursting into flame or getting sprayed with a corrosive substance, it’s good to know what to do.

Report the attack

If you are a victim, have someone else report the incident. That person should stay on the phone until help arrives, and follow the advice of emergency dispatchers. Head of first aid Joe Mulligan also suggests reassuring the victim: ‘Comforting the victim is also a really important part of any first aid as it calms the person and decreases stress levels, which have been shown to help with recovery.’

Remove contaminated clothing carefully

Be especially careful when pulling clothing over the head, which can spread the corrosive substance across the face and hands. According to the NHS: ‘…be very careful not to touch or spread the chemical as this could lead to further injuries to the victim or the person helping them.

Use gloves or other protective materials to cover hands and, if possible, carefully cut away clothing such as T-shirts, rather than pulling them off over the head.’

Rinse skin immediately in running water

The NHS and BAPRAS suggest rinsing in cool, clean water until help arrives. Make sure the area drains well, so the diluted substance does not pool around the victim. Do not try to wipe anything off the victim, as it could spread the substance.

Knowing what to do in an acid attack doesn’t mean you’re panicking, just as knowing the Heimlich manoeuver doesn’t indicate undue fears of your dinner guests choking. Don’t be paranoid, be prepared!

Read more on acid attacks 

Sarah is a blogger, writer and amateur palaeontologist from New Orleans. When not writing or digging dinosaurs, she teaches English.