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So You Carry Pepper Spray

Are You Really More Safe?

Pepper Spray is an affordable and easily acquired personal defense weapon. Having effective and convenient pepper spray puts us off to a good start, but we need to know how to use the tool we are carrying in order to actually experience an increase in safety. Here are some quick and often overlooked tips on carrying and using pepper spray.

#1 Make sure your pepper spray isn't expired. Yep, it expires. After that...

Read the instructions. The directions provide information on first aid, legalities, safety and storage – all good to know. Most importantly it will include the range of effective use, and further is not necessarily better. Most pepper spray is effective from 6-12 feet. Know what that looks like; measure it out.

Know when to use it. Pay attention to your surroundings; respect your instincts. The appropriate distance for use is further than most realize. When someone or something doesn’t look or feel right, if you can’t avoid them, call them out. If they continue towards despite you expressing concern - that’s not normal and it’s time to take action (meaning: spray them).

Practice using it. Most pepper sprays have a safety to avoid accidental discharge. Although simple and easy to use, during the rush of adrenaline mid attack is not the time to start trying to figure it out. Practice taking it out from where you keep it, disengaging the safety and actually using the spray. Note that if not used properly there is a risk of spraying yourself – like if used in too close of range, on a windy day or in an enclosed area.

Keep it accessible. It’s best to keep it in a consistent and secure place so you always know where it is. Rather than loose inside a bag, clip it inside a pocket in the bag. Clip it on a belt loop. Wear it. If you catch yourself thinking you’re glad you have it, that’s when it needs to be in hand and ready for use.

Keep it a surprise. To be most effective it needs to be sprayed in the eyes, nose and/or mouth. If you hold it up and threaten to use it, the attacker can easily shield themselves, avoid the spray and still close in. Once the attacker is closer than 6 ft we throw the weapon away and out of anyone's reach. We don't need the tool we carried for our safety to be used on us.

Be willing to use it. If you don’t think you would spray someone, find an alternative. As much as we would like to believe we will feel differently if in danger, it’s not guaranteed. You know right now whether or not you are willing to spray a person in the face with pepper spray. If not, there are other options for safety; find one you are willing to use.

If pepper spray is for you, local pepper spray training is strongly suggested. Be sure the class will cover legal use and offer a way to practice using it – possibly with water canisters.

Citizen Defense Training

Provides pepper spray training for corporations, groups and individuals. Certification available.

If local training is not an option or available, be sure to buy more than one canister to test it out and make a point to work on the above. You can also find instructional videos online. It's best to find videos specific to the brand and type of pepper spray you choose to carry.

Remember: the tools we choose to carry are only as effective as our training in their use.

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