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Dr Martin Niall, a burns surgeon, recently claimed that acid attacks have reached the level of an epidemic in the UK. In London, for example, where such attacks are particularly common, the number of incidents jumped from 261 in 2015 to 454 in 2016. And, throughout the UK, a Sun report found that two victims are burned in an acid attack every day.

Eventually, measures to end the unrestricted sale of acid and improved education may reduce the number of attacks– and we’ll start to see these figures go back down. For now, however, it’s clear that we must accept the fact that we live in a world where – though still rare – acid attacks present a real threat to public health.


How to Treat Acid Burns

According to the campaign group Stop Acid Attacks there are some simple things you can do to help acid attack victims.

If you witness an acid attack, there are two important things you must always do. Firstly, you must avoid becoming a secondary victim. This means taking adequate precautions to protect yourself – such as wearing gloves to prevent yourself from coming into direct contact with the substance. Secondly, you need call for help and dial 999.

Once you’ve ensured you’re safe and you’ve alerted the emergency services, you should:

If the chemical is in powder form, safely brush it off the victim’s skin

Rinse the affected area with fresh, uncontaminated water or saline solution

Wash the burned area with cool water until the pain begins to subside (up to 45 mins) or professional help arrives. Ensure that no contaminated puddles form under the victim

If the substance is in the victim’s eye, hold their eye under gently running cold water for at least 10 minutes. Make sure to irrigate both the inside and outside of the eyelid. Do not allow the victim to touch their eye (they may have acid on their hands) and never forcibly remove a contact lens. Ensure that contaminated water doesn’t splash into the other eye

Gently and safely remove any clothes or accessories that have come into contact with the acid

If possible, loosely wrap the affected area in a sterilised gauze. This will help keep the wound clean

There are also some don’ts that you need to be aware of:

Do not apply cream – this may interfere with the treatment given by doctors later

Do not apply milk – this could cause an exothermic reaction and do more damage


Acid Attacks: More Facts

Though rarely deadly, acid attacks can leave victims scarred, blinded, otherwise disabled and seriously traumatised.

The most common substances used in attacks are sulphuric acid or nitric acid.

Around the world, most victims of acid attacks are women (80 percent).

In the UK, men are more likely to be the victim of an acid attack than women, with the difference thought to be accounted for by gang violence.

According to the BBC, in London so far in 2016-17 there have been:

208 violence against the person crimes using corrosive substances – 38 caused serious injuries and one was fatal

118 robberies involved corrosive substances – 10 of which left victims with serious injuries

Two sexual offences involved corrosive substances, including one rape


Throwing acid is a heinous and cowardly act. We hope to see the government enforce some serious measures to curb this sickening trend as soon as possible.

Churchill Security is a cross-industry provider of security guards. We provide security guards across the UK and have created tailored security packages for over 20 years. Get in touch to find out more about our expert security guards in the UK. 

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John Melling is a Director for Churchill Security Ltd. John is a highly motivated, determined and decisive security industry professional. Drawing on his extensive experience gained within the security industry whilst working on the coalface John has operated at all levels within the industry. He has a proven track record for motivating and leading high performance teams and has helped mentor and develop many people at Churchill who now hold key or senior positions within the business. John is committed to delivering only the finest services, exercising compelling leadership, maintaining good internal morale and striving to resolve any challenges efficiently and effectively.