First aid for treating Caustic burns
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If you are treating someone else who has been burned, don't become a patient yourself! If you can, use gloves and be careful not to get any of the corrosive chemical on yourself.
If the spill is on the chest or belly, do NOT pull a shirt, sweater etc. over the face, as this could transfer chemical to the face or eyes or airways. Instead CUT it off.
Brush off any powder, taking care not to spread to other areas of the body, eyes, etc.
Remove any clothing from the affected part of the body, taking care not to spread the chemical, and flush and actively wash the area with copious running water for at least an hour and seek medical attention.
Do NOT try to neutralise a spill on the body.
If the eyes have been affected, continue irrigating the eyes until medical help arrives. Do not use vinegar.
Because of the amount of time you will be irrigating the area, try to use tepid / warm water so that the patient does not become cold or hypothermic, but if that is not available, use cold water on the affected area.
Keep the patient wrapped in a blanket, because burns can cause the body's temperature regulation to fail, causing hypothermia, even in relatively warm weather.
Do not apply any ointments to the burn area, as the medical team may need to remove this to treat the burn properly.
Prevention is always better than cure. Make sure you keep all chemicals securely locked away so children, other members of the family or guests can't come into contact with them.
Why not use Vinegar?
I emailed the folks at Harvard Medical School to ask for reasoning why not to use vinegar, this was their reply, and my original enquiry.
The most important treatment is to flood the area with copious water to flush the alkali away not to try and neutralize.
Alkali are hard to remove and very hard to neutralize with a weak acid unless you have gallons upon gallons of vinegar
Copious flushing is needed for 20-30 min to be able to remove from skin as it soon is thru the upper layer of skin and needs flushing not futile attempts at neutralization which will only affect the most superficial collection of alkali
As far as eye irrigation vinegar is toxic to the eye especially a damaged eye
Bob Demling Dr.
Harvard Medical School
See also your MSDS sheets, relating to spills on the body.
This site is intended as a source of ideas for independent experimenters
to use or reject as they see fit. You are responsible for ensuring that you do things safely
and it is up to you to protect the health of those around you.