Will Pepper Spray Protect Me?

By: Christopher Winkler

While violent crime rates have actually fallen in the last 10 years, almost 1,400,000 people are still the victims of violent crime every year (http://www.whitehouse.gov/fsbr/crime.html). You have to do something to protect yourself, as the police will not be there to help you.

One product that has the potential to deter or stop you from being a victim of crime is self defense sprays, or pepper sprays.

The active ingredient is pepper spray is Oleoresin Capsicum, a chemical derived from hot cayenne peppers. This ingredient, sometimes referred to as OC, is mixed with a carrier and a propellant in a can with a spray nozzle to release the spray.

When pepper spray is sprayed into an attackers face, the pepper spray affects the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. You know what happens when you rub your eye after touching a chili pepper. Imagine that pain by 10,000 percent! Immediately, the capillaries in the eyes dilate, which slams the eyelids shut. The attacker’s bronchial tubes will swell tightly, making it extremely difficult for the attacker to breathe. The effects normally last from a few minutes, up to 60 minutes, depending on the concentration of pepper spray. Plenty of time for you to run to safety and call the police.

Pepper spray has been used for years by police and governments in riot and crowd control, and personal self-defense, including a lower percent version of 1-5% for defending yourself against dog and bear attacks. It is a non-lethal agent that can be deadly in rare cases. Pepper spray works well to reduce a police officers exposure to attack, and has decreased the total number of cases of officer injury.

The effectiveness of pepper spray prompted manufacturers to offer the weapon to the general public. Pepper spray typically comes in variety of canisters that range from ? oz to 1 pound or more. Typically the 1/2oz or 1oz sizes are small enough to be carried on your key chain, or concealed in a pocket or purse. Pepper spray can also be bought concealed in items such as lipstick, pagers, pens, and rings.

When you go to buy pepper spray, keep in mind that the concentration of OC varies from 1% up to 18% or more. As a general rule of thumb, 1-5 percent is usually the most effective. Most higher concentrations will be too thick to atomize. Any less, and the spray will simply not be powerful enough.

However, there are some exceptions. Mace, a company that makes self-defense sprays, offers a 10-percent solution that is well known to immediately incapacitate any would-be attacker. The Wildfire 18% sprays are also very effective. As a last resort, even dog or bear sprays will take down an attacker.

The most important thing to consider, once you decide if pepper spray will protect you, is the state you live. Several states, and some cities and counties, have restrictions on concealing and carrying pepper sprays. Other states may require a permit. Still others may restrict what kind of pepper sprays are allowed, require the holder to carry a permit or take classes, or flat-out prohibit pepper spray. The best thing to do is call your local police station, and ask them what self-defense items you can legally carry.

Most spray pepper canisters feature a safety function to prevent accidental discharge, belt loops for easy carrying and quick deployment, and a serial number for quality-tracking purposes.

Pepper sprays usually come in three types of sprays: stream, mist, and fog. The fogger sprays are the most effective because they put out a super fine mist that is difficult to avoid. You can spray in front of you and fall back, and your attacker must walk through the fog, which he will start breathing. Your other two choices are streams and mists, which are both effective, though they have to be aimed directly into an attacker's face for maximum effect.

Each individual pepper spray has an effective range from 4-20 feet depending on the size and type of projection. Pepper Sprays contain a varying number of bursts of spray depending on size and model. Pepper sprays are rated in Scoville Heat units (SHUs), with 2 million scoville heat units being close to a very hot habenero pepper.

Pepper sprays start under $10 and go up from there depending on the size, a small price to pay when you’re considering your personal safety and peace of mind.

Pepper sprays do work and will protect you from being a victim of crime. If you use pepper sprays in conjunction with street smarts, a good stun gun, and some type of hand-to-hand self-defense classes, pepper sprays are a highly effective tool for staying safe and sound.

That’s our report on "Will Pepper Spray Protect Me?". It’s one of the best non-lethal defense products on the market, and used with a stun gun, gives you a 1-2 punch that should take down the most aggressive of attackers.

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