What to do in the Event of an Acid Attack
Updated: Apr 14, 2019
After reading the story of a recent acid attack, I decided to do a little research into what people can do should they find themselves a victim of such an attack.
An acid attack, or acid throwing, is probably the most violent and destructive thing someone could do to you, short of killing you.
The acids used in these attacks are highly corrosive and will seriously disfigure anyone they come into contact with.
There are a variety of different substances that are used in acid attacks; sulfuric and nitric acids are the most commonly used. Hydrochloric, while somewhat less damaging, is also used.
In areas where there are tighter regulations on the sale and use of acids, then attackers elect to use aqueous solutions of highly alkaline substances; like sodium hydroxide.
The unfortunate effects of acid attacks are long-term, pain-filled disfigurement, scarring wherever the acid touched and often blindness.
Acid attacks happen all over the world, but they're most common in South Asia, where there are less regulations in place to restrict the acquisition of these awful acids.
Bangladesh alone has reported 3, 512 victims of acid attacks from the 1990s and 2013, and Pakistan has also reported that they are seeing the highest number of acid attacks right now, and that they're increasing every year.
A recent documentary by the BBC in the UK followed the stories of four acid attack victims and during their research found that acid attacks are on the rise.
According to their findings there are, on average, two acid attacks per day in 2016.
They also projected that 2017 would see the highest number of acid attacks ever recorded in the UK; there were 400 attacks just in the first 6 months of 2017.
Sadly, there has also been a change in the way acid is used over the years.
Before, people would only use acid for honour and shame attacks or vengeance, now it's becoming more widely used by thieves or gang members seeking to settle disputes.
In 2016 there were over 500 recorded attacks in the UK, which per capita, makes it one of the highest danger areas for acid attacks too.
Dr Niall Martin, a burns and reconstructive surgeon at MEHT, said, "The numbers have certainly increased. We did some research a few years ago and we looked at all of our chemical assaults. From one to two per year on average, we admitted twenty cases last year and we have seen more than that already this year."
It's becoming an increasingly alarming method of attack in the UK, and it seems the number of those attacks is only going to increase.
So, here's what you should do in the event of an acid attack:
Report - If you, or a friend, sustain chemical burns you first need to report the incident to the authorities. Call an ambulance first, they can report the attack to the police for you.
Remove - Acids are corrosive and should never be touched. Wear gloves or something else to protect your hands. Do not attempt to wipe away the acid, this will only spread it and further damage the victims skin. Always cut away clothing.
Rinse - Rinse the affected area with clean water, making certain that the water runs off the burn and does not spread to other areas of the victims skin. Do not rub or wipe the acid. This will only spread the damage further.
This guidance from the NHS comes after the recent rise in reports of acid attacks and is meant to prevent further damage to the victim, after the initial attack.
Professor Chris Moran, the National Clinical Director for Trauma at NHS England said, "One moment of thoughtless violence can result in serious physical pain and mental trauma, which can involve months if not years of costly and specialist NHS treatment."
And it is very costly.
It's been calculated that caring for someone who is the victim of acid throwing can cost up to £35,000, including burns treatment specialists, eye care specialists, mental health treatment and rehabilitation.
If you wish to learn more about hazardous substances and their effects you can take the new COSHH Risk Assessor Certification™.