Acid attack is at an all-time high. The Acid Survivors Foundation India estimated that there are around 100-500 cases every year.
If you are a victim, or if you are witnessing an acid attack, the most important thing is to act immediately. Acting quickly will minimize the damage that acid would do to skin, eyes and surrounding tissues. The following steps should be undertaken to help acid attack victims:
1. Ensure that the area around the victim is safe.
2. Wear gloves while helping an acid attack victim to prevent yourself from exposure to harmful chemicals.
3. If the chemical is in powder form, brush it off from the skin of the victim.
4. Do not waste time looking for an antidote or treating acid burns with alkali, if you have not been trained to handle burn victims.
5. The most effective thing to do is to wash the burn with water for at least 20 minutes to rinse off the chemicals from the skin and soothe the area to a certain extent.
6. Try and douse the area with water and ensure that no puddle is created near the victim as this contaminated water can harm someone else.
7. While flooding the burn, remove any clothing that has acid on it and call an ambulance. Keep checking the breath of the victim and calm them down.
8. If the substance has got into the victim’s eyes, rinse the eyes with water for 10 minutes. Do not allow the victim to touch their eyes and remove lenses. The acid on the hands can do much more damage.
9. Make sure that the contaminated water doesn’t splash onto the eyes. If available, ask the victim to hold a clean puffy pad to their eyes till help arrives.
To curb acid attacks in India, the Supreme Court had ordered the government to limit the sales of over-the-counter acid to people above the age of 18. However, the authorities have failed to implement this rule to its fullest.