When a corrosive liquid attack occurs, it is hard to know how to help the victims. The best thing to do is to keep the affected area under fresh running water for as long as possible. This helps to wash away any excess liquid that may still be attacking the skin. When attending to a victim, be sure to protect yourself as the liquid will still be harmful and could be a danger to you and the others around you. It is important to prioritise the eyes, face and other functional areas like the hands. Clothing should be removed - but this should be done carefully to avoid further contamination. For example, cut off tops that are contaminated - do not remove them over the head. Do not try to remove clothing that has adhered to the skin. With eyes ensure that the liquid used to decontaminate does not run towards an unaffected eye. If possible the casualty should remove contact lenses as soon as possible. These should never be put back into the eye.
The new NHS England guidelines provide a three-step guide to follow when you're responding to an acid attack:
R- Report: Dial 999 straight away
R- Remove: Remove any clothing on the victim that has been in contact with the acid
R- Rinse: Keep running water over the affected areas until the pain begins to subside, this can take up to 45 minuets
What NOT to do:
Although, at the time, it may seem logical to pour milk on the burns to counteract the acid. Milk maybe an alkaline, however as it ages, it becomes more acidic. When the milk comes in contact with acid, it creates an exothermic reaction, this generates heat and can cause more damage. Milk can also increase the rise of infection, so therefore, always stick to running water. Use as much as possible.
However, when attending to the wound with water, it is ESSENTIAL that you keep the water going. Too little and it could make the effected area worse. With the right amount of water, the acid will continue to dilute. Too little and it will cause a reaction with the acid and cause a heating affect with temperatures rocketing to over 70 degrees in some cases, causing the victim agonising pain.