57°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
Forecast projects 30-plus-foot drop in 2 years at Lake Mead

Lake Mead’s water level is projected to drop more than 30 feet in the next two years, and the Southern Nevada Water Authority is urging people to continue conserving water.

Transportation issues forces changes to school hours

Several schools in Boulder City will be affected by the district’s recent decision to change the start and end times at some campuses in order to improve transportation.

Process to report mask mandate violations established

Nevada’s mask mandate is still in effect, and the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration office has created a way for people to report alleged violations.

District implements 5-day pause

The Clark County School District is implementing a five-day pause for all classes and school activities due to extreme staffing issues because of the high number of positive COVID-19 cases.

Motion for special fund to build development’s storm drain fails

Boulder City will not move forward with creating a special improvement district to pay for infrastructure improvements to a piece of land marked for sale despite the mayor requesting staff research the process.

Interim evaluations eliminated; timing puts focus on annual reviews

The city manager and city attorney will not have interim performance evaluations after City Council approved removing the requirement from their contracts and to just move forward with annual reviews.

Lake Mead not affected by planned water releases

Water operations at Lake Mead will not be affected by a reduction in the monthly water releases from Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona, according to Bureau of Reclamation officials.

New Townsite Solar project lauded

The recently completed Townsite Solar + Storage project will provide another avenue for Boulder City to purchase power, as well as bring in millions of dollars of revenue.

Historian, Nevada native to lead train museum

The Nevada Division of Museums and History has selected historian Christopher MacMahon as the new director of the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City.