In light of recent new reports, some people are concerned over how to react in the unlikely event of an acid attack. Although incidents are still rare, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of acid attacks taking place in recent months.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council has reported over 400 acid attacks or attacks with corrosive substances in the six months leading up to April 2017, with the total number since 2010 sitting at around 1800. The most prominent case occurred in July of this year, with 5 attacks taking place in London in a space of 90 minutes.
Remember, however, that acid attacks are still not an everyday occurrence, and the likelihood of you becoming victim of an attack is highly unlikely.
Why the Increase in Acid Attacks?
The reason for the increase in acid attacks is under speculation, but there may be reason to believe a link exists between acid attacks and gang crime. Criminal charges for possession of acid, as opposed to knife possession, are much lower, and providing evidence of who committed an attack is much more difficult.
Statistics show that worldwide, around 80% of acid attack victims are women, with the perpetrators often being lovers or family members seeking punishment or revenge. In the UK, however, almost twice as many acid attack victims are men compared with the number of female victims.
Acid attacks are alarming for all involved, and count as a medical emergency. Although they are very rarely life-threatening, they can leave victims permanently scarred, blind, and traumatised.
How to Respond to Acid Attacks
The NHS has provided comprehensive advice on how to deal with acid attacks as part of new first aid guidance. The first and most important point is to dial 999 immediately if you suspect that you have been victim to, or have witnessed, an acid attack.
Much of the treatment for acid attacks is similar to that for burns. Many victims of acid attacks will go on to require specialist burn treatment or reconstructive surgery, but such things are easier to deal with when treated quickly. Acting quickly can reduce damage to the skin, eyes and surrounding tissue.
If you are able to identify the substance which has been used in the attack, or have been able to gather or deduce any other useful information, make sure you inform the police or paramedics when they arrive at the scene.
Remember the following: REPORT, REMOVE, RINSE
Report – Dial 999 immediately
Remove – Remove all contaminated clothing
Rinse – Rinse affected areas with clean, gently running water