What you should do in the event of an acid attack

Police and emergency services attend the latest acid attack in east London (Sarah Cobbold)

The latest incidents in east London overnight seem to confirm an alarming spike in acid attacks.

One of the victims was said to have suffered “life-changing” injuries during the five separate incidents.

It follows on from previous high-profile attacks such as the attack on aspiring model Resham Khan and her cousin, Jameel Muhktar, also in east London.

More than £55,000 has subsequently been raised for the two victims and there are calls for parliament to restrict sales of acid to try and prevent further attacks.

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Parliament will debate the issue on Monday.

Figures show a sharp increase in the number of such attacks — in 2010 there were less than 300, last year that figure approached 500.

Acid victim, aspiring model Resham Khan

Almost a third of all the attacks happened in east London.

So, what you should do if you see such an attack, or are the victim of an acid attack?

The first thing is to ring 999 immediately. Then wash the affected area with cool water, while calling for emergency, professional help. Importantly, it has to be clean or saline water. Water helps dilute the acid. Dirty water can cause infection.

How long should I wash the affected area?

Keep washing with water until the stinging starts to recede. This can take up to 45 minutes. Any clothing or jewellery that has been hit by the acid should also be removed.

John Tomlin, accused of an acid attack (Metropolitan Police)

Should I apply any cream?

No. This could hinder the treatment when the patient is seen by doctors. Better to apply sterilised gauze . After treatment, the wound has to be kept clean to avoid infection and dressings changed frequently.

Why are acid attacks on the increase?

One theory is that gangs are increasingly using corrosive substances because of the crackdown on knife crime. Last year police said there were 454 victims of acid attacks, almost doubling from the year before.