Don’t use acid to unclog drains, UAE residents warned

Cases of acid burns over the past few years have resulted from bottles being emptied to clear kitchen sinks or toilets.

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DUBAI // Residents using bottles of acid to unclog drains at home could end up with third-degree burns, doctors warn.

There have been cases of acid burns over the past few years from acid being poured down kitchen sinks or toilets to clear them.

“I was surprised to see accidental acid burns happen here in Dubai. I have treated three here,” said Dr Mohan Rangaswamy, a Dubai plastic surgeon who will be part of the team performing free operations in India next month.

Dr Rangaswamy, who used to work with Welcare hospital, will also treat a Sri Lankan housewife in Dubai who suffered burns to her face, neck and arms when an acid bottle burst last year.

“A large part of her scalp was burnt off and even bone was exposed, so multiple surgeries will be required,” he said.

“You cannot imagine the psychological and physical suffering for the person who a second ago was a normal person. Within seconds their life is almost completely ruined.

“Treatment of burns is difficult and drawn out and so it’s a challenge.”

The immediate response should be to run water over the affected areas.

“People get totally shocked and they panic, but they must remember to put copious amounts of water on whichever part the acid has fallen,” Dr Rangaswamy said.

“This will dilute the acid, take away the heat and prevent the acid from continuing to penetrate and damage more layers of skin.

“In case of chemical burns, the temperature of water is not so important. What is important is to dilute the harmful chemical.

“Seconds are being lost and the acid and heat is penetrating so you must cool it immediately.

“Whether it is burns due to heat, flame, hot liquids, steam, acid, alkali or any other chemical, there is only one thing to do – douse the area with continuous running water.”