What to do if you get a chemical burn
Would you know what to do if you got a chemical burn while you waited for an ambulance? Channel 3 asked the experts.
Following a chemical burn incident in Chattanooga early Tuesday morning, some medical professionals want to make sure local community members would know how to help care for the burns.
Nurses and doctors at CHI Memorial told Channel 3 there are steps a chemical burn victim can take while waiting for medical attention.
"If a chemical hits your skin it can create any type of injury from just a mild rash to a third degree burn," explained Patrick Johnson, CHI Memorial Clinical Operations Director.
Medical personnel said the first step may seem obvious, but someone with a chemical burn is urged to call 911, then immediately start getting the chemical off their skin.
"Next response is to remove the chemicals as quickly as possible,” Johnson explained, “Your simple water, just flushing the skin, washing the skin off with ordinary water from any tap. "
Doctors recommend cleaning the skin for 3-5 minutes at a time, and to rinse out your mouth and eyes if touched by the chemical. Also be aware of your surroundings, checking to see if the chemical could be anywhere else.
"If its contaminated clothes any, you want to remove those articles of clothes as well,” urged Johnson, “If you're in a closed environment and it could be potentially being inhaled, you want to remove yourself from that environment as well."
Once a burn patient gets to the hospital nurses will either take them to a shower decontamination room, or treat the burns with saline and gauze, depending on the severity.
Doctors said it’s important to remember chemical burns can take a long time to heal.
"A first degree burn can heal within a week to two weeks. Some of the second or third degree burns can take weeks to months to even years to heal depending on severity,” explained Johnson, “It can involve things like skin grafts; multiple surgeries can be involved with a severe burn."
If a burn is extremely bad victims will be transported to specialized burn units.