The past month has been heavy for us all, but also incredibly important to instigating change. The unrest we may be feeling right now is necessary because the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many many more did not happen in vain. While calls for justice have sprouted across the nation, the aggressive tactics used to resist these protestors have tainted the movement. Many cities have resorted to the use of tear gas and mace against plenty of peaceful crowds, leaving horrifying images of fallen protestors. Before stepping outside the quarantine bubble, it's just as important to take necessary precautions before joining the protests.
So, How Does Tear Gas or Mace Work?
The standard tear gas used by the police force is generally delivered by spray or a grenade. Once it is fired, the chemicals in the tear gas react with the moisture, resulting in the burning sensation people may feel. This makes the eyes, lungs, and your skin extremely vulnerable to damage. As a result, if you suffer from any respiratory diseases, you should seriously consider your health before rushing into a dangerous scene.
Here are 3 essential tips each protester needs to know before they hit the streets:
- Wear Protective Gear
This means not just wearing a mask, but also wearing a hat against the sun and eye protection. This can be sunglasses or goggles. It can even be as simple as wearing your glasses. Any kind of barrier in front of your eyes is necessary in case you are exposed to tear gas or mace. It is especially important that you DO NOT WEAR your contact lenses because they will keep the tear gas or mace trapped in your eyes.
2. Do Not Wear Makeup
As tempting as it might be to dab a little bit of mascara on, it's important to avoid wearing any oil-based makeup products on the day of your protest. If you do end up getting tear gassed or maced, the oils will cause the chemicals to cling to your face longer.
3. Do Not Touch Your Face
Of course, as a general rule of thumb, avoid touching your face to prevent breakouts and protect yourself from the virus. Rubbing your eyes or mouth can also reactivate the white crystals (composed of sec-butanol and various other chemicals) of tear gas.
In case you have been doused by tear gas or mace in the face….
Make Sure to Carefully Follow These 3 Steps:
- Immediately Pour Chilled Milk
Spray or pour this continuously over your eyes in order to flush out the irritant. This won’t completely resolve all the burning, but it serves as a quick and temporary solution to neutralize the chemicals.
2. Go Take a Shower
Once you get home safely, remove your clothes and take a 30 minute cold shower. This will help wash off all the chemicals.
3. Thoroughly Wash your Face
There likely will be a residue of chemicals on your face, so combine 1 part dish soap and 3 parts water. Then submerge your face in this solution for 15 seconds and continue to do this until the tear gas gets completely removed. It’s important to remember not to rub your face during this step.
Safe protests are more effective protests! So before you rise up in solidarity, make sure to properly equip yourself against any resistance.