The name “tear gas” pertains to various substances including CS, CN, CR and OC & PAVA. The Chlorobenzaldene malononitrille (CS) is the most common chemical used for tear gas. It is one of many “non-lethal” tear gas also known as lachrymator or “lachrymatory agents” (derived from the latin word of “tear”, “lacrima”). The term “tear gas” is a bit of inaccurate because in a police department’s weaponry, the canisters contain a solid powered chemical as opposed to a gas. The chemical becomes aerosolized when activated, producing a thick plume of crystals that hang in the air.
The popular pepper spray that’s widely used by women is called OC, PAVA which is also another category of “lachrymatory agents”, along with mace (CN). People would think of pepper spray and tear gas as different substances, when in fact they are both lachrymatory agents. Most thought of pepper spray as liquid and tear gas as gas, although both chemicals can come in numerous forms depending on how it is formulated. At times, these two chemicals are being combined in one product.
What does tear gas do to its victim?
When exposed to tear gas the victim will experience a set of symptoms: severe burning of the eyes, throat, mouth and skin. Victims choke, cough and gag, with tears. Irritation of the mucous membranes from their eyes, nose and throat also occurs. As a reaction to the pain, the eyelids of the victim snap shut. Some have reported short-term blindness.
Depending on what tear gas is being used, the symptoms may kick in almost instantly. CS gas comes on in within 30 seconds to a minute, causing irritation to the eyes, throat and skin. Pepper-based OC gas kicks in even more rapidly, and may disorient or paralyze its victim.
Tear gas is a substance that reacts and binds to moisture, making it viciously effective. The aerosolized (colloidal suspension in air) crystals attach to the moist surfaces, which makes a person’s eyes, skin, mouth and breathing passages, vulnerable. The body will try to flush these chemicals which make its defense mechanism go overdrive producing mucus and tears.
If a person can get into an open air immediately, the symptoms will wear off in less than an hour, except for dizziness, burning eyes and skin, and disorientation can last longer. Researchers have been studying how to block the effects of tear gas, but they haven’t found any cure other than escaping into open air.
Tear Gas for Self Defense
Tear gas is an effective personal self-defense weapon that is considered “non-lethal”. However, under certain conditions the chemical sprays have caused death. Additionally, beware that these devices may be illegal or prohibited in some states and can’t be brought onto certain buildings and airplanes.
Using Pepper Spray for Self Defense
If you want to carry tear gas, in the form of pepper spray, you should take a training course before buying it. Most authorized instructors will endorse a product that will fit your needs.
Tear gas ideally should be placed in your belt holster or your coat pocket because the tear gas is always accessible. Placing it a key chain or purse is a poor location. If you’re about to walk in a dark or isolated place, you must have the pepper spray handy or better yet, have the canister in your hand with your finger on the trigger. Assaults are usually surprise and happen rapidly without warning. Pepper sprays are most effective in ranges 3 – 10 feet, depending on the type of emission; mist or steam.
When to Use Tear Gas
Tear gases are designed for personal self-defense against an attacker, but should not be used offensively. Pepper sprays offer an effective distraction, giving you time to escape from a dangerous situation. However, it does not guarantee paralysis or stopping power, contrary to advertisements. The attacker can still punch you, grab you, shoot you or stab you and will become angrier after being sprayed. It may not also be effective on intoxicated, drug addicts and hysterical persons.
To be really effective, pepper spray should be pointed at the attackers face at a close range. Try not to be in contact with the attacker as the oily spray can transfer to you and lead to distress.
One must always bear in mind the corresponding liability that comes along when someone owns a tear gas or pepper spray; the use of pepper spray can be a crime when used irresponsibly. Using a pepper spray on an innocent victim’s face is just like punching someone in the face. You will be charged battery or assault in most jurisdictions. The reason for using chemical sprays should either be during distressed situation or self-defense from an assailant and the harassment must be reasonable. For instance, you can’t just use a chemical spray on someone because he/she is using obscene language or because you are just afraid of the way they look.