If you’ve ever felt threatened by someone and had no means of defending yourself in case of an attack, you know how weak and vulnerable it made you feel. It may also have made you realize why small canisters of pepper spray have become such popular self-defense tools for hundreds of thousands of people.
Small, affordable, and efficient, pepper sprays work by allowing you to shoot a stream of pressurized oleoresin capsicum at an attacker. The active ingredient in oleo capsicum is capsaicin, which is the component of chilis and other hot peppers that adds the “heat” in spicy foods and make your mouth feel hot when you eat it. When sprayed in the face, it temporarily causes burning, searing pain in the eyes and skin of an assailant, who involuntarily closes his or her eyes and typically has an uncontrollable bout of coughing. In short: Pepper sprays temporarily incapacitate an attacker, giving you time to get away.
Pepper spray manufacturers have been improving not just the active ingredient in pepper sprays but also the spray canisters themselves. They must be small enough for people to carry and keep handy, safe to store, and easy to use. Here are three types to consider, each with different advantages:
Keychain Pepper Spray
The Sabre Red keychain pepper spray device can be easily detached from a key ring, allowing you to hold it in your hand if you feel vulnerable. SABRE
Pepper spray canisters that are small enough to keep on a key ring have one big advantage: If you have your keys with you, you have a means of defending yourself. Of course, pepper spray is useless if it’s in a purse or pocket, so you’ll need to keep it in your hand if there’s even a remote possibility of an attack. But you’ll never forget your pepper spray if it’s attached to your keys. Make sure the one you get has a quick-detach mechanism so you can hold it in your hand without your keys jangling.
Pepper Spray with Tear Gas and Marking Dye
The 3-in-1 pepper spray by Sabre incudes tear gas as well as oleo capsicum and contains a dye visible under ultraviolet light to help authorities identify suspects. SABRE
If you want additional protection—and if you want to give authorities an advantage in finding any person who tried to attack you—choose a pepper spray that contains tear gas and a marking dye. Tear gas increases the burning sensation of the spray, making it more effective and giving you additional time to escape. Marking dye that’s visible under ultraviolet light will remain on skin and clothes and allows police to identify a suspect.
Pepper Spray Gel
Sabre’s Red Pepper Gel Spray won’t be affected by normal wind and has a hand strap to make it easy for runners to hold. SABRE
One downside of pepper spray is that a wind or any kind of air movement can cause the burst to blow back onto you. Runners create their own breezes simply by moving, so if you will be carrying the spray while on a run, look for a gel-type spay in a canister that’s easily held in your hand. Gel won’t blow back in typical winds, so you can use it and make your escape without harming yourself in the process.