What to do if you're caught up in a tear gas attack

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/26/what-to-do-if-youre-caught-u.html

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Maybe the only really acceptable reason to carry bottled water.


Priority 1: if you get caught up in a CS usage situation, get your kids the hell out of there. RCAs are especially dangerous for children.

For healthy adults, understand that it’s an irritant and even though your eyes are stinging and you feel like you’re choking you ARE getting enough air to breath. So try to stay calm as you leave the area.

When you get a chance to wash your clothes, run an empty load through the washer afterwards before washing anything else.


These tips may suffice for straight-up tear gas used by the HK police, but they won’t suffice for the crowd dispersal agent used by authorities during the WTO protests in Seattle. That shit is designed to re-activate when water is applied, keeping people from cleaning up, and getting back on the streets.

If you find yourself with a face full of that stuff, the best way to clean up is to use some kind of fat or oil to dissolve away the residue-I found a pat of butter worked well- and only when the worst of it has been blotted away with the grease, then use soap and water to clean up.

And keep some “mouse ears” hearing protection on hand for when they use sound weapons.

Edited to add: this advice applies when the stuff has had a chance to dry on your skin. If you can use water right away while it’s still liquid, by all means do.


i really expected some mention of using milk to flush out the eyes. isn’t that something that people have found works well?


People use that pepto-whatever pink stuff to rinse their eyes.
Vinegar soaked rags over the mouth and nose help for breathing.
And ladies, if you’re planning to be in the stuff for a couple days - bring sanitary napkins, whatever time of the month it is). That shit is toxic.
If you are wondering why they are using the fire hoses to get you wet, they aren’t just being dicks. The tear-gas is water soluble so if you are soaked, it will get through your clothes and burn your genitals.
Learned all this right here in Canada.


I’ve always wanted to live in a democratic country. Instead, I have lived in the U.S.A., which is a mix of limited democracy at the local level and oligarchy at the federal level.

I’ve lived through police attacks (yes, in the U.S.A) but haven’t had to deal with tear gas yet, just batons. I have researched how to deal with tear gas, though, assuming it’s just a matter of time until I encounter it.


Unfortunately none of these tips do much good if the tear gas canister is fired directly at your skull, as happened to a protesting war veteran near where I was living in Oakland back in 2011.


Yes, absolutely. Its the butterfat that absorbs and neutralizes the capsicum oil.


Last year Frontline Wellness United did a series of webinars about various topics of interest to medics who provide support to activists at rallies, occupation camps, and other situations. In one of those webinars, our lead trainer Taggart Long gave a great demonstration of how to rinse out tear gas (and its cousins) from a person’s eyes. His explanation starts at about 35 minutes into the Emergencies in Activism video:

I love how Taggart grabs his son to be the demonstration “volunteer”. It’s super cute, and I hope that it’s also helpful to people who may find themselves in the line of pepper spray or similar, whether they are activists or just neighbors trying to get through the streets.



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