[edit | edit source]

During: How to deal[edit | edit source]

  • STAY CALM. Panicking increases the irritation. Breathe slowly and remember it is only temporary.
  • If you see it coming or get a warning (e.g. police are putting gasmasks on), put on protective gear.
  • If possible, move away, get upwind, or get to higher ground above tear gas clouds.
  • Blow your nose, rinse your mouth, cough and spit. Try not to swallow.
  • If you wear contacts, you must remove the lenses or get someone to remove them for you, with CLEAN, uncontaminated fingers. Destroy the lenses after exposure, they are not cleanable.

Remedies[edit | edit source]

The most important intervention we provide is rehumanizing, calm, and compassionate care. Our bodies actually do a remarkable job of decontaminating our eyes/nose/mouth. When we show people that they're cared for, regardless of the remedy used, that's what helps them actually heal from the attack in the long run and supports their ongoing political activism. Emotional first aid and emotional aftercare can be more important to recovery from the trauma of an assault by chemical weapons.

First Aid[edit | edit source]

Many medics have conducted trials with pepper spray to find good remedies. There are some definite things that you can do after being sprayed to help minimize the discomfort. None of these are miracle cures: using these remedies will help people to feel better faster, but the best medicine is still time.

  1. Eye Flush - this is the primary treatment recommended for chemical exposure
  2. Remedies for the skin: For pepper spray on the skin
  3. Secondary treatments can include walking around with your arms outstretched, removing contaminated clothing, and taking a cool shower.

The CDC recommendations for treatment: [1]

  • Treatment consists of helping the affected person get more oxygen in his or her blood and of stopping agent-caused chemical burns from getting worse. Medications that are used to treat asthma (such as bronchodilators and steroids) may also be used to help the person breathe.
  • Eye exposures are treated by rinsing the eyes with water until there is no evidence of riot control agents in the eyes.
  • No antidote exists for poisoning from riot control agents.
  • Burn injuries to the skin are treated with standard burn management techniques, including use of medicated bandages.

Decontamination[edit | edit source]

It is essential to shower and wash or discard your clothes as soon as you are able. Pepper spray is toxic, and will continually contaminate you and everyone around you until you get rid of it. Until then, DON'T touch your eyes, nose, mouth, face, other people, furniture, carpets, pets, etc. to avoid further contamination.

Shower using the coldest water you can stand (to keep your pores from opening) for 20 minutes. Remember to put all of your clothing, bags, hats, etc. into a plastic bag until they can be decontaminated. Keep contaminated clothing in the bag as evidence until you have talked with a legal support person from the American Civil Liberties Union ([www.aclu.org/]) or the National Lawyer's Guild ([www.nlg.org/]). Protect your mucus membranes when transferring clothing from the bag into a washing machine. Tear gas and pepperspray will gas-off out of the bag when you open it. Decontaminate clothing by washing two or three times with a harsh detergent.

If you are at a mass mobilization, and medics are available, ask them if there is a decontamination station set up. Often the convergence space, medic space, first aid station, or wellness center will have a decontamination station where you can wash your skin and get a clean set of clothing.

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