As the holiday season moves into full throttle and residential crime escalates, more and more homeowners, wary of owning a firearm, are considering boosting their existing home security with a pepper spray. But it’s important to remember that any spray designed to be used for self-defense is a tool and is restricted by the ability of the user and the individual circumstances. Nevertheless, pepper spray has been the chemical spray device of choice since 1977.
The internet is full of stories of pepper spray being used successfully to save pets, cyclists, joggers, disabled people, mothers, etc. from attack by grizzlies, aggressive dogs, thugs, muggers and other assorted crazies. But before you run out to get your can of chemical defence, take a moment to read some facts about pepper spray from law enforcement professionals.
Pepper spray pros and cons
- You should never only rely on a weapon or personal protection device (pepper spray or Mace) for self-defense against violent criminals. A panic pendent and a home security system are the best backup you could have.
- Check with your local and state law enforcement agency to ascertain any restrictions before you buy a pepper spray.
- Pepper spray should be kept away from children.
- Check the expiry date on the spray canister as slow leakage can result in a loss of pressure.
- Shake your pepper spray device from time to time to keep the chemical mixture effective.
- Don’t expose a pepper spray to extreme heat or cold; for example, leaving it in your car.
- An assailant must be within range of the pepper spray canister. The range can vary from four to fifteen feet with optimum effectiveness at about ten feet.
- If you use pepper spray on an intruder in close quarters, you may also be affected. Ask yourself, pepper spray might affect you but would it incapacitate you?
- You should practice using your pepper spray until you are able to aim and spray accurately. A test conducted in California, showed accuracy under the stress of an attack was only 20% effective.
- There are a few individuals who show little or no reaction to pepper spray, although this is rare.
- Pepper spray, used for self-protection, can be a diversionary tool that may let you escape an attack. Even if the spray doesn’t stop the assailant, it could buy you time. A direct spray to the eyes and mouth is likely to deter or incapacitate the average person.
- For pepper spray to be truly effective it must be sprayed directly into the eyes or inhaled.
- The best pepper sprays have 15% active ingredients but more importantly, should be rated at least two-million scoville heat units.
What does the spray do?
If the intruder is sprayed directly in the face and inhales the spray, they’ll experience coughing, choking, and nausea. Capillaries in the eyes will dilate causing temporary blindness and the mucous membranes will swell, resulting in trouble breathing and causing temporary incapacitation. Where the spray makes contact with the skin, it will cause a burning sensation, and rubbing the area will only make it worse. The effects of a one-second burst can last for three quarters of an hour.
Pepper spray in the news
Increasingly, police reports contain accounts of pepper spray effectively stopping a bad crime from getting worse. This has led to a renewed interest in using a spray as a potential defence weapon. In this incident in Seattle in June 2014, pepper spray turned out to be a very effective emergency defence strategy:
SEATTLE June — A lone gunman armed with a shotgun opened fire Thursday in a building at Seattle Pacific University, killing one person before a student subdued him with pepper spray as he tried to reload, Seattle police said.”
Pepper spray was effectively used against a dangerous, armed criminal and successfully prevented him from killing again.
The best way to purchase pepper spray is to first take a training course before you buy, then purchase a product from your instructor that will meet your needs.