I recently viewed a video (dated April the 6th 2017), which purports to show the aftermath of a chemical attack (where Sarin was employed).

Could anyone explain why the victims in the video were doused with water? To what degree does such measure help?

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    $\begingroup$ Not much. It could have been of some help against blister agents, but not against nerve agents. $\endgroup$ Apr 6, 2017 at 9:50
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    $\begingroup$ Probably because water is all they have immediately to hand and in the hope of physically flushing it off the skin. Chemically it would not be very effective at deactivating sarin. $\endgroup$
    – Waylander
    Apr 6, 2017 at 13:11

1 Answer 1


A standard protocol after unintended chemical exposure is to quickly douse the victim in large quantities of water to wash away chemicals that could remain and cause further harm, such as powders and other types of solids that could spread over your body as you moved. Also, the water will dilute any chemicals to the point of least harm that soak into clothing (provide a large amount of water is used). However, as Ivan Neretin pointed out in the comment, sarin gas does not do physical damage to the external parts of the body, but enters the body and causes nerve damage extremely quickly. In this type of situation, the water dousing probably did little to nothing to help the victims.

  • $\begingroup$ so basically they are doing it for nothing (the watter spraying). Since all of them a paralyzed, shaking etc. There aren't any visible burns on their bodies $\endgroup$ Apr 6, 2017 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ But if sarin sticks to your hair and cloth etc washing does help otherwise you would inhale stuff hanging in your clothes and hair... $\endgroup$
    – user37142
    Apr 6, 2017 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ I think the water dousing is not completely useless, see the possibility Fl.pf. posed, but it has very limited positive effect. The water will not help alleviate the problem compared to a situation like spilling a corrosive liquid on yourself. $\endgroup$
    – J. Ari
    Apr 6, 2017 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ The dousing may also help any emergency responser not get contaminated. $\endgroup$
    – TAR86
    Apr 13, 2019 at 18:17

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