Acid attacks on the rise 

Unfortunately, the findings also show after a 10-year decline, there was a sudden surge in violent corrosive attacks between 2012 and 2016. During this period attacks increased by more than 500%. In fact, just 73 were recorded in 2012. However, four years later, they reached a high of 469.

But the true number may be more than 700, according to charity Acid Survivors Trust International.

According to the Met Police, 465 were recorded in London alone in 2017.

The increase in these acid attacks are believed to be fuelled by gangs. The gangs switch from using knives and guns to try to avoid tougher sentences if caught.

Acid Attacks - new first aid advice on treatment for corrosive burns  

The minutes after an acid attack are critical for helping a victim

NHS England in partnership with the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), have released guidance as to the best way to treat someone who has had some form of corrosive substance thrown at them as part of an acid attack.Immediate and appropriate first aid treatment has been shown to make a dramatic difference to the amount of pain, suffering and long term scarring experienced by the casualty.

Chemical burns


Chemical burns can be caused by acids. However, very alkaline substances can be used too.

The burn can continue to cause damage for many hours after contact with the irritant. Treatment should be immediate irrigation for at least 20 minutes.


Treatment overview: here’s how to respond:


  • Report the attack: dial 999.
  • Remove contaminated clothing carefully.
  • Rinse skin immediately in running water.


First aid treatment step-by-step 

It is important to report the crime and call 999 immediately.
Put the phone on speaker or ask someone else to call so you don’t delay giving immediate First Aid.
Contaminated clothing or jewellery should be swiftly and very carefully removed.
Then the affected skin should rinsed under copious amounts of running water until medical attention arrives.
Priority should be given to flushing the eyes and face (and the airway if affected) first.
A bottle of water is insufficient. You will need a lot of water, ideally from a tap, hosepipe or shower.
Use tap or bottled water. Or, wherever possible, use Hartmann’s or Normal Saline solutions.
They should then be transported to hospital by the paramedics as soon as possible.

Don’t become a secondary casualty

Ensure you don’t pull clothing that has stuck to the skin and contaminate yourself.
Protect yourself from being injured by the corrosive substance.
Wear gloves and protect yourself from contamination
If you see someone exposed to acid, avoid the urge to brush it off with your hands, or you’ll end up burned yourself.


First aid can reduce pain, damage and long-term injuries

David Ward, President of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), said: “BAPRAS surgeons specialising in burns and trauma have seen first-hand the devastating impact on patients admitted to A&E after vicious corrosive substance attacks. They cause severe pain, scarring which can be life-long, and can damage the sight, sometimes leading to blindness. Unfortunately these vindictive attacks are on the increase. “This guidance BAPRAS has published with NHS England gives the important, urgent steps a victim or witness can take to help reduce the immediate pain and damage, and long-term injuries.”


To re-cap:

  • Report the attack: dial 999.
  • Remove contaminated clothing carefully.
  • Rinse skin immediately in running water.



Written by Emma Hammett, CEO of First Aid for Life First Aid for Life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information. It is strongly advised that you attend a First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Book a first aid course now – the skills you learn could equip you with the knowledge to save your child’s life! First Aid for Life is a multi-award-winning fully regulated and Ofqual approved first aid training company. are the leading UK online first aid training providers to allow you to learn these vital skills when it suits you    

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