For all intensive purposes, I'll start off by saying any agent or weapon used for self defense is most effective when trained with before hand. In addition to that, any person wishing to carry any such item for protection should be fully aware of the responsibility that goes along with it as well as the local, state and federal laws. Pepper spray, specifically "OC" which I will discuss further, is not a toy and should never be treated like one. Although the agent is considered less than lethal, there is always risk of back spray, multiple exposure, and or missing your target.
What is Oleoresin Capsicum? Commonly called "Pepper Spray", Oleoresin Capsicum is a convenient aerosol spray that is used as a protection device. When used before hands-on defense, there is less risk of injuries to all parties.
Effects of OC? OC affects the skin, face, eyes, and respiratory system and is usually immediately debilitating. It is reliable and has no long-term harmful effects on the recipient. OC is widely accepted as a safe control option for human service personnel.
OC is classified by both its strength and its concentration. The strength (heat) of the peppers used to make OC is graded using Scoville Heat Units (SHUs). The hottest peppers cause the most dramatic effects on the people being sprayed. SHUs range in numbers from 500,000 to 5.3 million. In general you will want a rating of at least one million SHUs for optimal effects.
Use Good Tactics
Make a habit of shaking your canister on a regular basis to keep the active ingredients mixed with the carrier agent. Test fire your spray every few months to make sure that the nozzle is not clogged with debris. Replace your spray by the expiration date noted on the canister. If your canister does not have and expiration date, replace it every two years. While the chemical inside will not lose potency, aerosols tend to lose pressure over time.
If you come into contact with the spray, or you get pepper sprayed yourself, immediately rinse all affected areas with soap and water repeatedly. Using a tub full of ice and water works great to soothe the heat while scrubbing off the pepper residue. Then I suggest you thoroughly rinse your face under running water until you can force your eyes to stay open. Immediately following the washing and rinsing if you stand in front of a fan or sit in front of an a/c unit this will help reduce the inflammation. Effects will last for 30-45 minutes, but be warned they can reactivate later in the day when showering, etc. Its painful but bearable and I highly suggest if you are going to carry it, to get sprayed in a controlled environment, so you're prepared and understand its effects.
Chemical spray deterrents add a potent weapon to anyone’s arsenal. If you follow the simple steps outlined above, you will dramatically increase your ability to utilize a chemical spray deterrent in the most effective manner possible. Good chemical spray selection, combined with viable tactics and excellent situational awareness will make you into a formidable opponent for any potential attacker.