First Time Buying Pepper Spray for Self-Defense? Here’s What You Need to Know.
If you’ve just purchased pepper spray for the first time, it’s not uncommon to have some questions. How does it work? What happens if I have to use it? Where should I store it? The good news is we have answers to help first-timers get comfortable and understand some smart steps when you’re new to pepper spray. And with a little education, you’ll be ready when it counts.
- Read the instructions. This may seem obvious, but it’s critical to read the instructions so you know how to operate your pepper spray. Not all pepper sprays are the same, so get familiar with how to disarm safety features and how to fire your pepper spray so you’re ready if you need it.
- Give it a test fire—OUTSIDE ONLY. Whether you purchase online or at your favorite retailer, you want to be sure your pepper spray will work if you need it. Occasionally, products are damaged in shipment or something else happens that’s outside of a manufacturer's control. A test fire will confirm your pepper spray works properly.
DO NOT test fire pepper spray inside your home. Give it a quick test fire outside ONLY. If it’s windy or there are adverse weather conditions, consider choosing another time to test your pepper spray. You don’t want wind, rain, or snow accidentally blowing pepper spray in your face or on your skin. More on what to do if you’re accidentally exposed to pepper spray below.
- Understand how to store pepper spray safely. Pepper spray is in a pressurized canister. Extreme heat or cold can cause your pepper spray to leak or explode. Don’t leave your pepper spray in a car or anywhere it can be exposed to extreme temperatures. Also, if you have children or animals in your home, securely store your pepper spray where they can’t accidentally find it.
- Check the expiration date. Pepper spray doesn’t last forever. It typically lasts 2 - 5 years, depending on the type of pepper spray. Pro tip: Put a note on your online calendar to refresh your pepper spray supply before it expires.
- Make sure to carry your pepper spray! Your pepper spray won’t do you any good if it’s not with you when you encounter a scary situation. Put it on your keychain or inside your purse or bag. Or place it with the essentials you typically grab before leaving the house. Again, be sure it’s not somewhere pets, or young children can access it.
- Know what to do if you are exposed to pepper spray. Rinse your face and any affected areas with clean water and use soap to remove residues. If the spray is in your eyes, flush them thoroughly with a stream of water. Do not put soap in your eyes or rub them, as doing so can intensify the effects of the spray.
- If you have to use your pepper spray. Remember that the next step is to get out of the situation. Again, this may seem obvious to some people, but the goal is to subdue a threat and get to safety as soon as possible.
Also, we typically recommend replacing your pepper spray if you have to use it. While there may still be adequate pepper spray left in the canister, there’s no way to know for sure. That said, it’s better to have a full pepper spray at the ready if you need it.
Remember that pepper spray is a weapon. And like any self-defense weapon, it’s vital to understand how it works and how you can have it safely in your home. Especially when you’re new to pepper spray, make sure you get educated, so it can be a valuable ally if you need it in a bad situation.
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