A parent’s worst nightmare for their children in 8th-grade science class could involve many things, but most likely one of the more prominent fears deals with hazardous chemicals. If you, your children, or any of your family members have ever been exposed to harmful chemicals, you know the dangers involved. There are corrosive acids in many chemical compounds that will destroy body tissue – if exposed to the retina for too long, you may lose your eyesight altogether.
Therefore, identifying the problem quickly and following the correct procedure is necessary in order to fight the potential harmful effects from direct eye chemical exposure. Below are five simple steps to follow immediately following exposure to damaging chemicals – whether you’re in science class or not.
5 Important Steps to Remember
Flush Your Eye(s) Out Immediately With Sterile Water – Make sure you are using clean, lukewarm, sterilized water and wash your eyes out for approximately 15 to 20 minutes immediately following the incident. There are a couple of different ways to effectively clean chemicals out of your eyes – many schools have eye washing stations that are very helpful and convenient during classroom accidents. However, what about accidents at home or work? Putting your head down and turning it to the side, allowing the infected eye to graze the running water gently works well. Also, jumping in the shower and allowing the water to hit your forehead directly and run down to your eyes is another technique used.
Control the Water Pressure – Always make sure that with whatever method you use you are controlling the water pressure entering the eye. The water is meant to flush the toxic chemicals out, not force them deeper into the eye canal. Harsh water pressure will irritate the eyes even without harmful chemicals – water control is imperative. If you are under the sink or in the shower, allow the water to hit your face and run indirectly into your eyes for 15 to 20 minutes.
Wash Your Heads – Before you touch your face with any part of your body you should shower rigorously and rinse thoroughly. If you are unable to shower immediately following the 15 to 20 minutes of water rinsing, ensure your hands are washed with soap and water and are clean prior to touching your face. Chemicals may have spilled on your hands or other parts of your body, and that exposure may cause more eye irritation if you rub your eyes after flushing (which is very tempting due to the irritation)
Remove Contact Lenses – If your contact lenses do not come out during flushing, make sure to extract them after the washing is complete, and you’ve washed your hands and rinsed thoroughly. If your hands are not washed, you may run the risk of chemical exposure again. In most cases, contact lenses will fall out during the 15 to 20 minutes of continuous washing, assuming that you are cleaning correctly.
Call Emergency and Get Medical Assistance – Even if you feel better after washing thoroughly, you will still want to consult with a medical professional about the exposure – what was the chemical and did you get all of it out? These are the kind of questions you want to be asking. If you are still in pain after the rinsing, the emergency room is a must for safety against nerve damage or tissue corrosion. While rinsing have a friend or family member call 911 or a local emergency number to explain the situation currently at hand. This will help speed up the decision while you are rinsing so you may immediately act when finished with the 15 to 20-minute rinse. Many medical professionals, given the chemical type, amount of exposure, and age of the victim, will be able to determine how dangerous the situation may be. Regardless of the severity, always call a medical professional after exposure for a second opinion.