How Effective is Pepper Spray for Self Defense

It happened one Tuesday morning in January at a Super Eight hotel, when a hotel clerk in Isabella County used her pepper spray during an attack by a would-be robber. They say when the perpetrator raised his hand to hit her, she quickly gave him a dose of pepper spray and then he took off. How differently this story may have ended without the preparation of this particular clerk.

So what exactly is pepper spray ? Pepper spray or O.C. (Oleoresin Capsicum) is the natural ingredient that gives cayenne pepper and other plants their spicy kick. When it’s concentrated and delivered in aerosol form, pepper spray inflames the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and throat – temporarily blinding a person, causing them to cough uncontrollably and may also feel like they’re choking.

The immediate effects can last for about 45 minutes, but may linger for a few days. Therefore giving the victim time to escape and the opportunity to call 911 to report the attack.

Of course there is no perfect personal defense solution. Blow-back from wind is a factor, in addition to the remote possibility that the perpetrator has been pepper sprayed before and has trained himself to withstand the agony. For that reason, I always recommend having a backup plan.

If defense spray is a new concept for you and you are thinking of incorporating it into your personal safety plan, here are some things you might want to keep in mind:

Start with the key chain model and purchase two. They are inexpensive and you’ll need the extra one to practice with.

When you practice, wear latex gloves and go outside in your backyard, away from people and animals on a windless day. You might want to tack a photo on the fence to use as your target. Completely empty the device so that you’ve used up all contents. The key chain variety has about 3 seconds worth of spray. It’s important to experience what that feels like. That way, if you are ever in a real life situation, it’ll increase your chances of being successful.

Sign up for a local pepper spray training class. They usually last about 3 hours, and cover an abundance of information concerning safety, legal matters, and practice with inert canisters.

Pepper spray also works on animals and is effective on people even if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

When choosing to purchase pepper spray, it’s wise to do some research and choose the right one for your needs. There are small ones that will fit on your key chain or slip on your car visor, ones shaped like guns, canisters or even ones disguised as lipsticks. There are also different concentrations and amounts of OC which correlate to their effectiveness in addition to the various types of delivery systems.
If your safety plan is to avoid being attacked, then pepper spray is an ideal safety solution. You never know when you are going to need it and hopefully you won’t, but isn’t it better to be prepared?