I have long been fascinated by the idea of rape whistles and pepper spray. My fascination started my freshman year of college when my RA gave me a cute pink rape whistle to put on my key chain. The tiny tweet was good for nothing and pepper spray ranked only slightly better in my mind, but I always wondered how I would fare in a real harmful situation with pepper spray as my only defense.
With a little research I found that, if used knowledgeably, pepper spray can indeed save the day. Here are seven ways you can get the most out of your pepper spray:
1. Spray directly into the eyes or inhale to be most effective
The face of an attacker should always be the target. Pepper spray on the arm or leg is not a comfortable feeling, but it also will not stop an attacker from hurting you. A spray in the face, however, can incapacitate an attacker for 45 minutes. It causes coughing, choking, nausea, breathing difficulty and, most importantly, temporary blindness. All of that is caused by a one second spray in the face. Imagine what 30 seconds could do!
2. Carry spray in a belt holster or outer coat pocket
I most often find women with their pepper spray buried at the botton of a large handbag or dangling off a keychain, but pepper spray needs to be kept in a place that is easily accesible so it can be used a spur of the moment encounter. Carrying your pepper spray in a belt holster or a small canister in your coat pocket may not be as fashionable, but it is much more functional.
3. Only use defensively
Seems obvious, right? Unfortunately, pepper spray is often misused or used in situations where it is not necessary. Using pepper spray can be charged as assualt if not used responsibly. Use pepper spray when being attacked or when in imminent danger. I'm sorry I have to say this, but do not use your pepper spray for fun.
Actually, side step. Pepper spray does not entirely disable an assailant like popular movies lead us to believe. The assailant will be surprised and momentarily disabled, but an ardent attacker may still lash out and harm you if you don't get out of there.
5. Don't get any of the spray on yourself
No one, I hope, would purposely spray themselves with pepper spray, but if used in an attack, it is possible to get some on yourself. You will want to avoid contact with the assailant so none of the pepper spray transfers to you. Also, avoid spraying into the wind. The blowback could cause irritation and harm you.
Despite what my mother told me when she gave me her 10-year-old pepper spray, the stuff does not keep forever. Pepper spray usually lasts about two years, but experts suggest replacing your pepper spray every year just to be safe. You don't want to be in a situation to legally use your spray only to find it has lost its juice.
Pepper spray does not need to be another useless item that gets lost in the endless pile of receipts at the bottom of your purse. Now that you know how to use it, just make sure to always keep it handy and to spray responsibly.