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

Protesting the rise of right-wing populism and our increasingly oppressive nations is so hot right now. Ideally, living in a democratic society (at least for now) as we do, Americans and Canadians have the stone-cold privilege of being able to assemble and protest peacefully without fear of violence from extremist nuts, the police and, why the hell not, the military.

In theory.

As they say, life comes at you pretty fast. Sometimes, life comes at you firing tear gas (which often isn't actually a gas at all but rather, 'aerosolized solid or liquid compounds.) Wong Tsui-kai of YoungPost offers some fine, hard-earned tips on what to do to keep yourself and those around you as safe from the compound inside of the canister lobbed your way as possible.

  • Leave the area to fresh air, ideally to high ground as the vapour is heavier than air. If it is used in a building, exit the building. Keeping your arms outstretched will help the gas come off your clothing.
  • Do not rub your eyes, as that will only agitate the crystals and make it more painful.
  • Rinse away the chemical from your eyes and skin with large amounts of clean water or saline. An eye flush can be done by tilting the head sideways and letting the water travel from the inner eye to the outer corner, aiming the stream at the bridge of the nose. Make sure not to let the liquid flow to the other eye, spreading the chemical. The affected person should keep their eyes open during the rinse.
  • Remove contact lenses and eyeglasses. Contacts should not be reused, and eyeglasses should be washed with water before they are put back on.
  • Ideally, one should remove their contaminated clothes as soon as possible and take a cold shower to remove as much of the chemical as possible. Don't bathe. Clothes should also not be mixed with others when washed. Severely contaminated items may need to be put in a sealed plastic bag and discarded.
  • Should you be treating someone else exposed to tear gas, be cautious when touching them, as they will have it on their skin and clothes

Stay safe out there.

Image via Wikipedia Commons