Acid and Corrosive Substance Attacks
Acids or corrosive substances can be used as weapons to assist in criminal acts ranging from targeted assaults to robberies and thefts.
There are also occasions when you may accidentally become exposed to these substances and the advice is the same for these occurrences too.
Call the emergency services immediately
Anyone attacked by acid or a corrosive substance will need emergency medical treatment and the ambulance service must be called straight away by dialling 999.
While making this call please ask the emergency call operator to also inform the police so we can gather evidence and begin our investigations. Other emergency services may also be needed to help to identify the chemical used and to provide decontamination of any victims.
What should I do if I am exposed to acid or corrosive substances?
In the event of any incident involving acid or corrosive substances there are 3 simple steps to take to reduce the effects on the casualty. These steps are Remove, Remove, Remove.
REMOVE – YOURSELF AND THOSE CONTAMINATED FROM THE IMMEDIATE AREA
- Try to move casualties away from the area of contamination (uphill and upwind and outside, if possible).
- Do not stand in pools of liquid, for example puddles, and avoid becoming contaminated.
REMOVE – AFFECTED CLOTHING
- Remove contaminated clothing (in order to remove the chemical and provide better access to flush affected skin).
- Take great care not to pull clothing over the head. Cut away clothing such as jumpers, hoodies, t shirts etc. This is a safer way to prevent the spread of the contamination to unaffected skin, either the casualty’s or your own.
- Do not remove clothing that is stuck to the skin. Cut around it where possible and leave the affected area covered.
REMOVE – CONTAMINANT – if the skin is itching or burning, use a continuous flow of water such as showers, hoses or taps. This aims to flush away the chemical and cool the affected area.
- The priority is to remove the chemical (not neutralise it) from the casualty as quickly as possible as burning will continue until all of the chemical has gone.
- While flushing the skin, care must be taken to prevent the water flowing over unaffected areas as this will spread the chemical and cause further damage.
- This flushing should be maintained to remove the chemical and cool the affected area until emergency services arrive.
- Do not allow the chemical to enter the nose or mouth as it is important that the casualty’s airway is maintained. Flush these areas first to limit damage if they have been exposed.
- If the eyes are contaminated keep flushing until further help arrives. Remember, it is important when flushing eyes to ensure the contamination is not spread to the other eye by positioning the person appropriately.
DO NOT COVER BURNS OR WIPE
- Do not cover any itchy skin, burns or blisters with bandages or dressings, as this can cause more harm.
Officers now have decontamination kits to provide an immediate response to acid or corrosive substance attacks.
The bespoke kits are carried in a bright red bag and contain bottles of water, a shower head attachment and protective equipment, to help prevent injuries through cross contamination.
They have been designed to provide officers with the essential tools needed when dealing with an attack or accidental exposure.