84°F
weather icon Clear

Pepper spray gives victim time to escape

Pepper spray, also known as OC spray, OC gas and capsicum spray, is a lachrymatory agent (chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain and temporary blindness) and can be used in self-defense, including defense against dogs and bears.

Its inflammatory effects cause the eyes to close, taking away vision. This temporary blindness allows officers to more easily restrain subjects and permits people using pepper spray for self-defense an opportunity to escape.

The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin, which is a chemical derived from the fruit of plants, including chilies. An emulsifier such as propylene glycol is used to suspend the OC in water and pressurized to make it aerosol in pepper spray.

The OC percentage measures only the amount of chili oil extract contained in the defense spray, not the strength, pungency or effectiveness of the product. Some are very high in SHU (Scoville heat units) or OC in products designed specifically as bear deterrents.

The initial reaction, should the spray be directed at the face, is the completely involuntary closing of the eyes (sometimes described as bubbling and boiling as the chemical acts on the skin), an instant sensation of the restriction of the airways and the general feeling of sudden and intense, searing pain around the face, nose and throat. Coughing almost always follows the initial spray. Subsequent breaths through the nose or mouth lead to ingestion of the chemical, which feeds the feeling of choking.

Capsaicin is not soluble in water, and even large volumes of water will not wash it off. In general, victims are encouraged to blink vigorously in order to encourage tears, which will help flush the irritant from the eyes.

Pepper spray typically comes in canisters, which are often small enough to be carried or concealed in a pocket or purse. Pepper spray also can be purchased concealed in items such as rings.

Mace is sometimes confused with pepper spray, but it might contain OC pepper, tear gas or both.

Defense sprays should only be purchased by those 18 years of age or older. Certain other restrictions might exist in your jurisdiction. Be aware that use of the product for other than self-defense purposes might result in a citation or criminal charges depending on several factors.

Tina Ransom is a dispatcher with Boulder City Police Department. She is coordinator of the Boulder City Citizen’s Academy.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
City gains ownership of hangars

Boulder City is taking ownership of 28 airport hangars after a District Court judge denied a motion and canceled a restraining order prohibiting them from doing so.

Mask mandate heeded

People in Boulder City are adjusting to the recent statewide mandate to wear masks in public places.

School leaders ready to start next year

Local school leaders are confident in the ability of their staff, students and the community to implement the district’s reopening plan, whatever it may be.

Fatal disease for rabbits could change desert landscape

A fatal disease with the potential to change the makeup of the local desert landscape was recently found in Boulder City’s wild rabbit population.

Request for power doors at post office denied

Two years of hard work, 1,500 signatures and countless phone calls later and the Nevadans for the Common Good are no closer to getting power-assisted doors installed at the Boulder City Post Office than they were when they started calling for a change.

Caller’s intuition helps save life

This series of day-in-the-life of stories provides a candid look behind the scenes of the Boulder City police officers who protect and serve Boulder City.

News Briefs, June 25

Six residents, four employees at vets home test positive

‘Thermal injury’ death under investigation

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating a fatal accident at Boulder Oaks RV Resort.

Parkway renovation ‘substantially’ done

The multimillion dollar renovation of Boulder City Parkway is “substantially finished” with only a few minor items remaining to be done.