Pepper spray is a simple and strong defensive weapon used by many people around the world. It works well, if you know the right method to handle it and use it. This article will help you to effectively use it for self-defense.
Pepper spray is less-than-lethal weapon which is used for defensive purposes by civilians as well as policemen. It is made up of hot chili peppers which contains an active component called capsaicin, which naturally has the property of causing irritation of the eyes, pain and tears. Capsaicin is a derivative of Capsicum, which when comes in contact with the skin, causes burning sensation, both in humans and other mammals like bears, dogs, etc. The concentration of the ingredient Oleoresin Capsicum (OC), determines the effectiveness of the spray and that is why it is also called OC spray.
Effects of an OC Spray
An individual who is being subdued by people or a group of people who are causing problems can use this spray, in order to attack, defend or escape. High-powered OC sprays such as PepperBall system, which is a semi-automatic launcher that works like a projectile and reaches the target with high pressure, is used by policemen to control mobs. This launcher can be used one hundred feet away from the target and when projected, produces 8 to 10 foot-pounds on the suspect, and that will force the targeted person to stop.
According to a study done by US army, the possible effects are “Mutagenic effects, carcinogenic effects, sensitization, cardiovascular and pulmonary toxicity, neurotoxicity, as well as possible human fatalities. There is a risk in using this product on a large and varied population”. This is very strong product, though not lethal, which when sprayed on the target, causes automatic shut down of the eyes, loss of control over body movements, shortness of breath, etc., and its effects will last for 20 to 30 minutes. In general, depending on the model of the spray, it can be used in the range of 18 to 30 feet but, more powerful sprays are used by police forces.
How to Use an OC Spray
Carrying the Spray
Carry it in a suitable container or canisters that doesn’t leak. Do not keep it inside your car, because high temperatures may break the seal of the container and cause leaks. You can keep the spray inside the open pocket of your purse or loose outer pockets of your jackets or pant pockets. You can try keeping the spray in other easily accessible locations also. Practice and make sure that you can draw it quickly during an emergency. You can use key ring sprays as they are convenient because of their small size, and so you can carry it easily.
Analyzing the Situation
If it’s a hold-up, it is better to give the things the attacker asks for, and let him leave the place. If the attacker has a weapon, wait till he puts it down, and then retrieve your OC spray. Or, if the attacker has a knife, stay at least 6 feet away from him, and fire the spray. If the knife or gun is pointed or pressed against your body, don’t use it for obvious reasons. Don’t solely rely upon it. Learn other self-defense techniques which may help you during such precarious situations. You will just have few seconds to retrieve your spray, so do it quickly and smartly.
Hold the spray and aim it to the upper body or directly to the eyes of the assailant. Start firing for 2 to 3 seconds and, see to it that you are away from the grabbing distance of the attacker. Spray it in a tight and confined circular motion. Try to hold your breath for a few seconds while you are spraying. Run away from the assailant and call the police. Inform the police whether it contains UV dye, which may help them to identify the attacker later.
* It’s your wish whether to choose between fight or flight. But the ‘rule of thumb’ is to flee from the attacker, if he/she is larger than you.
Practice using the spray unit several times as it can even help you to save your life. OC sprays will be available in hardware and variety stores, and it is sold in small canisters. However, persons who are below 18 years are restricted from using these sprays. Before buying it, you need to know the laws, determined by the law enforcement agencies of your state. Understand the directions given in the manual of the package and use it carefully. Keep the spray canister away from the reach of children.