Dangerous Pepper Spray Mistakes

Pepper spray can be a very useful self defense weapon. It is the weapon of choice by many police officers, security guards, women and the like. Many people find simply having the pepper spray in their possession makes them feel more secure, because it means that you always have a plan B.

While it can be very beneficial when you are in a situation where you need to subdue your attacker, human or animal, it can also be dangerous when not used properly. Avoiding some common pepper spray mistakes will help you use the spray as efficiently and as effectively as possible. Knowing about these mistakes now will help you think when you are in the heat of the moment, under pressure and scared so that you can use the product to help you instead of hinder you.

  • Don’t use it on an attacker that is more than 20 feet away. While you don’t want to get too close to your attacker, you also don’t want to use pepper spray when they are too far away. If you spray them when they are that far away, it will not work and they will be aware that you have a self defense product, doing away with the element of surprise. Two to six feet is the best range to shoot in.
  • Do not use it when the wind is blowing in your general direction. It can be difficult to stop and think about this in the heat of the moment but if you realize that the wind is blowing in your direction you will need to move so that you won’t have the pepper spray back in your face when the wind blows. Do your best to always ensure that you are not going to be on the receiving end of the spray. Doing so will subdue you and give the attacker the upper hand.
  • Don’t try to open your canister. Attempting to open the can could cause it to explode or the can could leak and cause skin irritation. If the can is no longer spraying, it is time to throw the can away and move on.
  • Never point the pepper spray in your direction. If you are attempting to use the product and you are trying to take off the safety device to ensure that it is working, you should always point it away from you. It is too easy to accidentally spray yourself in the face and this will give your attacker the upper hand and it will also sting a lot. Pepper spray is known to stop the strongest men and even police officers in their tracks, you simply do not want to be sprayed.
  • Do not stick your arm toward the attacker any more than you have to. Most will spray anywhere from two to eight feet in distance. If you stick your arm out your attacker is more likely to grab it from you, rendering you powerless.
  • Do not expose your canister to direct heat or high temperatures for any period of time. Many people put the pepper spray in the glove compartment so that it is with them in their vehicle. The issue here is that when the canister heats up, it will often cause the seals to break so the unit will not function the way you need it to in the event of an attack.
  • Do not warn your attacker that you are going to spray. This is a mistake that many people make, thinking that they will intimidate their attacker. Warning the attacker that you have a weapon will simply allow them to defend themselves, gaining the upper hand.
  • Don’t use it on an attacker who is right next to you or in your face. Two feet is a safe distance, anything closer will mean that you get pepper spray on you, too. If you are affected by the pepper spray, it may mean that you are not able to get away from your attacker as planned. While you may get some mild skin irritation from using it, getting hit in the face will make an escape very difficult.
  • Do not attempt to use your product after three years. If you attempt to use it after this period of time, it may not work. This could be a dangerous situation to be in if you are relying on the pepper spray to get you out of an attack with a bear or even another person and it does not go off, suddenly they have the upper hand.
  • Don’t hang around too long to see how long the attacker will stay down. Once you have established that they were hit with the spray and that they are responding to it, it’s time to start moving. While it affects most living beings for a minimum of 15 minutes, as soon as you know that the attacker is subdued, you need to run for help or to safety.

While many of these mistakes are things that we all assume that we would never do, in the heat of the moment when you are trying to protect yourself, we sometimes do things that we would never do otherwise. Knowing about these mistakes ahead of time can help you avoid problems as you go through the motion. Practicing and understanding the side effects of pepper spray will help ensure that you are able to use it successfully.

Page last updated on: July 25th, 2014

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