First Aid: Chemical Exposure
Some chemicals cause burns. Others may
be absorbed through the skin or lungs, causing hidden damage. If possible, always
the particular chemical's Safety Data Sheet or contact the Poison Control Center
(800-222-1222) for expert advice. In general, follow the steps below.
Step 1. Stop the source
Remove the person from
contact with the chemical spill, airborne particles, or fumes. (Wear gloves or use
other safety equipment as needed to protect yourself from exposure to the
Take off any clothes or
jewelry that have been in contact with the chemical. Chemical injuries, just like
heat burns, get worse as long as the source is in contact with the body.
Step 2. Clear the lungs
Take the person to fresh air.
This may mean going into another room or leaving the building.
Do CPR (cardiopulmonary
resuscitation), if there is no pulse or breathing.
Step 3. Flush the eyes
Flush the affected eye with
water for at least 15 minutes. Make sure the water is cool, especially if its
source is an outside hose or eyewash station.
Don't accidentally flush
chemicals into an unaffected eye. Hold the head so that the injured eye is on the
bottom. Flush from the nose downward.
Step 4. Clean the skin
chemicals, such as lime, from the skin, instead of using water. Be careful not to
brush particles into the eyes.
If the chemical does not
react with water, flush the affected skin with cool water for at least 15 minutes.
Make sure the water flow is not forceful enough to cause pain or break
Don't brush away chemicals
with your bare hands.
When to call your healthcare provider
Chemicals may cause serious damage
not only to the outside of the body, but also to the inside. If absorbed into the
chemicals may start a silent attack on the kidneys or liver. Call your healthcare
provider right away if any of the following is true:
A chemical has come into
contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth.
The Safety Data Sheet calls
the chemical hazardous or likely to cause damage.
The container label warns of
corrosive contents, which can wear away skin.
911 right away if the victim
Symptoms of shock
Burns over a large area