Body Care

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Sometimes, we find ourselves in situations where our bodies are threatened. Here are some ideas on how to protect yourself from attacks by others and by forces of nature such as fire.

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Defense Sprays

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Carrying a personal self defense spray can help you escape an attacker by distracting or briefly incapacitating him. Sprays come in several types depending on the underlying chemical:

  • OC-based ("Pepper spray") - Products in this category (made from Oleoresin Capsicum, derived chile-type peppers) produce a severe burning sensation in the attacker's eyes, throat, and nostrils. This is the most powerful defense spray, and though typically used only by police, in milder forms it is available to the public. OC-spray is an inflammatory agent and goes to work immediately on contact, debilitating the attacker.
  • CS-based (Ortho-chloro-benzalmalonitrile) spray is from the manmade "tear gas" family. It is more readily dispersed from a cannister in riot situations, is not an inflammatory but an irritant and therefore usually is not as good of a personal defense weapon as OC-spray.
  • CN-based (alpha-chloroacetaphenone) spray is from a gas. It acts as an irritant and in most formulations is the least effective as a personal defense weapon because, like CS-spray, it can take up to 30 seconds to react, and drunks or people on drugs who are feeling no pain seem impervious to it.

Choosing a spray

The most popular choice is an OC-based pepper spray. These come in formulations of 5%, 10%, 15% and up. A 10% spray is common, potent enough to stop an attacker and make him drop to his knees. High concentrations (20%) are only for stopping wild animals like bears.

The size and style of the dispensing container are important. Look for a spray product that:

  • shoots a stream rather than a mist; although they require you to aim for the face, it reduces the likelihood of spraying yourself.
  • can shoot a stream far enough to get an attacker before he gets too close
  • has enough capacity to be used several times in case there are multiple attackers or you miss
  • is in a convenient dispenser so you are not annoyed toting it with you everywhere you go. Keyring dispensers are popular.

Finally, keep in mind that defense sprays have the drawback that the attacker can take the spray away from you and use it on you.
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