An Essential Guide To Protesting Without Tears

We found these open source instructions floating about on social media… and we can assure you they work

Tear gas, formally known as a lachrymator agent or lachrymator (from the Latin lacrima, meaning “tear“), sometimes colloquially known as mace, is a chemical weapon that causes severe eye and respiratory pain, skin irritation, bleeding, and blindness. Tear gas works very quickly. Briefly, the symptoms could be:

  • Burning sensations in the eyes, nose, mouth, and skin, coughing and difficulty breathing.
  • Lots of flow of tears, mucous from your nose, saliva from your mouth. This is your body fighting to expel the particles.
  • Rash or chemical burns on exposed skin
  • Disorientation, confusion, leading to panic

BEFORE GOING TO PLACE WHERE YOU MIGHT BE EXPOSED TO TEAR GAS:

  • If you use contact lenses, wear spectacles instead. (You can wash eyeglasses exposed to tear gas, but you’ll have to throw away lenses that got gassed.)
  • A dupatta or scarf log enough to wrap around airways and exposed skin and hair is a good idea. Overall, the less skin that’s exposed the better (this is the time to be sanskari) and the thicker your clothing the better.
  • Carry a wet bandana or towel in a ziplock bag. Take it out and cover your nose and mouth quickly if you’re gassed. (Some places I looked recommended you soak the cloth in lemon juice or vinegar.)
  • Wear a loose upper garment. You can pull it up over your face and breathe the air inside it to give yourself a few more minutes to get away from the area.
  • If you have swimming or skiing goggles, take them along. Or a gas mask, which you might have if you visit Delhi often. (That was a joke. As someone on Twitter reminded me, a gas mask means a full face protector with a filter, NOT the kind of filter masks which people use for dust / pollution.)
  • Carrying a bag? A backpack is better than a shoulder bag. If you have to run. And in that backpack. Load up as much water as you can.

IF YOU ARE TEARGASSED:

  • Immediately hold your breath. Resist the instinct to take a deep breath first. Close your eyes. If you’re carrying that wet cloth, now is when you cover your face with it. Get away from the areas as fast as you can.
  • DO NOT RUB YOUR EYES. That will only make it more painful.
  • The gas is heavier than air. Move to higher ground as quickly as possible. Try to face in the direction that the wind is coming from. (If you’re not sure, check that beforehand: stick your finger in your mouth, cover it with saliva, then hold it up in the air; the side that feels a bit colder is where the wind is coming from).
  • Flush eyes with cold water or saline. Lots of it. Tilt head to the right side and pour water from inner edge of the eye flowing outwards. Then tilt head to left and repeat. This will prevent water flowing from one eye into the other. Do not let the water flow onto your skin or clothes. The gas is usually a fine powder that will settle on skin and clothes
  • Remove clothing that has been exposed to gas as quickly as possible. When washing these clothes later, wash them separately.
  • Shower with COLD water. Warm water will open up pores and let more of the chemical into your body.

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