You are here:

St John Ambulance logo

First aid for acid attacks

A shocking spate of acid attacks have hit the headlines in recent months. Make sure you know what to do if you witness an attack.

Chemical burns

  1. 1. Make sure that the area around the casualty is safe. Wear gloves to prevent you coming into contact with the chemical. If the chemical is in powder form, it can be brushed off of the skin.
  2. 2. Flood the burn with water for at least 20 minutes to disperse the chemical and stop the burning. Ensure that the water does not collect underneath the casualty.
  3. 3. Gently remove any contaminated clothing while flooding the injury.
  4. 4. Arrange to send the casualty to hospital. Monitor vital signs, such as breathing, pulse and level of response.


  • • Never attempt to neutralise acid or alkali burns unless you are trained to do so
  • • Do not delay starting treatment by searching for an antidote

Chemical burn to the eye

  1. 1. Hold the casualty’s affected eye under gently running cold water for at least ten minutes. Irrigate the eyelid thoroughly both inside and out.
  2. 2. Make sure that contaminated water does not splash the uninjured eye.
  3. 3. Ask the casualty to hold a clean, non-fluffy pad over the injured eye.
  4. 4. Arrange to send the casualty to hospital.


  • • Do not allow the casualty to touch the injured eye
  • • Do not forcibly remove a contact lens

Share this advice