View Full Version : OC (pepper) Spray decon procedures:

08-02-2011, 01:32 PM
Okay, I know several folks on here probably do carry the stuff for self defense and since I got sprayed this morning, I figured I'd post up a quick checklist about some decontamination procedures in case you get either sprayed or come in contact with OC spray. And for those wondering why I got sprayed, it's part of the job and an annual certification.

So you come into a situation where you have sprayed someone and get some residual OC on you or you might have been downwind and got into your own stream. First things first...

DON'T PANIC! If you have used the OC, it's typically for a reason. Make sure you keep aware of the bad guys/gals intentions and keep them covered until help arrives. Far too often, we panic (I know I have when I got it on me) and lose sight picture. It hurts, yes, but keep track of what is going on around you. Especially do NOT rub your eyes!

Once bad guy/gal has been subdued or taken away, the next step is to wash off any residue that hasn't affected your skin yet. Sounds easy, right? Not so much. Your face will be burning like it's in a pool of flaming gasoline, eyes watering and hard to open, breaths hard to keep in. You may even go as far as hyperventilation, but again, attempt to remain calm.

Wash off residue with water first. A garden hose, spigot, even a barrel full will work. However,

DON'T RUB IT IN! The chemical makeup of the resin is much like tree sap. This is the oleoresin part of it. Mind the word resin in the name. It's a sticky mess that was designed to stick to whatever it was shot at and will stick to your face or anything else it comes in contact with. Rubbing and scrubbing it in only makes it go deeper into your pores, burning more and lengthening the decon time. Use the water to get the larger parts off first and then gently, gently apply baby shampoo or some other eye safe soap. Wash gently across the face and do NOT get into a hurry! Again, scrubbing harder is the WRONG thing to do.

The water actually is bad for the OC residue over the long run. The particles of capsicum are the "pepper" portion of the spray and what is burning you. The resin makes it stick, the pepper makes it burn. So once the resin has dried, the pepper still burns, but not as much. Water reactivates the capsicum and starts the burning sensation all over again. So once you finish washing off, blot your face dry with a towel. Don't wipe or scrub, blot the water off.

So the advice is, once dry, wait for a while...at least two to four hours, before getting any water or anything else on the affected area if possible.

Wind helps as well or a fan or air conditioning. Yes, it sucks, but facing the wind and opening the eyes is the best medicine for what you are feeling. The wind assists in the drying of the resin and helping "cool" the affected area. At this point, open your eyes slightly. The most immediate reaction will be to close them. Crying helps more than people realize. It starts getting the OC residue out of your eyes. They will hurt and burn, but slowly, one needs to get their eyes open and get some wind on them. One second open, nine seconds shut for the first three minutes or so...maybe less if you've done this before, maybe more if it's your first time. Two seconds open, eight shut for three minutes, so on and so forth. The burning will go away after time.

And blow out your nose. After being hit, you will get some of the resin in your nose whether or not you knew about it. And talk about a great sinus cleaner. But anyway, long snot trails is normal after having been sprayed. Just ignore it and press on, but continue to blow your nose and clear out your sinuses.

Remember to keep facing the wind as well. In a shady spot is best. The sunlight aggravates the OC and makes the burn return.

Once you've gotten your eyes opened back up and your nose cleared, the affected area will continue to burn. At the earliest possible time, change out of contaminated clothing. There is residue on your clothing and it can be reactivated by sweat, water or just about anything. Change clothing and wash separately from everything else.

So the burning has gone away and you are happy it has (because it really sucks), however, the capsicum portion is still on your skin just waiting for reactivation. Trust me on this, no matter how better you feel after the first couple of hours, IT IS STILL THERE! Which brings us to continued decontamination procedures.

Baby wipes are wonderful cleaning agents and will help in the decon several hours after being contaminated. I say several hours because you want to give your body a chance to release some of the resin still clinging and the pores release what they have absorbed. There is no set time, but four hours is a good rule of thumb. Use unscented, alcohol free baby wipes with aloe. Clean face, neck, throat, ears using multiple wipes. WIPE, not scrub.

THIS WILL START THE BURNING AGAIN! (I know because my face is on fire right now) But it also helps remove the residue for bathing later on...we'll get to that in a moment. Do this every half an hour for the rest of the day. It sucks in the beginning, but will get better as your body tosses more out and the wipes clean more. By the time the day is over, it won't hurt as bad.

Sleeping on OC...reminder, wash bedding after being contaminated! The capsicum will absorb into clothing and bedding. You think you've gotten everything and are fine the next day, but once your head hits the pillow...burning again. So after the first night, wash bedding.

Wake up the next day (after probably spending a sweat filled night hugging the air conditioner) and you will want to shower. But

YOUR BODY STILL HAS BEEN REMOVING THE CAPSICUM FROM YOUR PORES IN YOUR SLEEP! Which leaves a layer waiting to be washed off in the shower. And since there are certain parts of the anatomy that are generally more sensitive than others...I figure you get the picture. Wash your face away from the rest of your body and by no means let the water run down! Ouch, screams, burning, pain, etc. Some suggest wearing a bathing suit or underwear in the shower. That probably helps get over the initial shock, although I've never tried it.

I can flat guarantee you the burn will return the next day in the shower. Maybe not as intense as it was the previous day, but it will suck once again like a really bad sunburn. However, continue to wash it off and this is the point you can scrub a bit. Yeah, it will suck and burn, but one has to gut through it. Continue baby wipe treatment if you desire as it can help.

But the biggest thing to remember is TIME! Time is the only thing that is going to assist in getting over the affects of being sprayed. Your body will absorb more of that nasty stuff than you realize, but you have to gut it out. Sorry to say, but there is no magical potion, no medicine and nothing that will help more than time. There are temporary measures (like it drying up), but it will still take a day or two before your body returns to "normal."

Hope this helps in case someone gets sprayed.

Matt In Oklahoma
08-02-2011, 05:31 PM
You left out falling in the fetal position and crying you ....... when i can see again your done! LOL
Good post bro!

Briar Wabbit
08-02-2011, 08:06 PM
ooOOOPs ! Sorry you had the opportunity to experience that ! Thanks, for the tips !

BTW ... They make huge cans of SERIOUS OC, for BEAR ATTACKS ... freakin' dispenser looks like a kitchen fire extinguisher and puts-out pretty good spread (and distance and potency) ! ... Just FYI ... ahem.


Urban Survivalist
08-03-2011, 05:31 PM
I hate, hate, hate getting sprayed with OC. I would rather be tazed 10 times than sprayed once. The first time I had the experience of OC, I made the mistake of showering within 2 hours afterward and the residue ran from my face downward and made a bad training day worse. I say bad training day but in reality once you have been sprayed by OC you know how it affects you and how to react which is a valuable lesson.

Briar Wabbit
08-03-2011, 07:23 PM
I wonder if Calamine Lotion or Milk would help ... ?

Wiki Quote:

Deactivation and first aidCapsaicin is not soluble in water, and even large volumes of water will not wash it off. Victims are generally encouraged to blink vigorously in order to encourage tears, which will help flush the irritant from the eyes.

A formal study of five often-recommended treatments for skin pain (Maalox, 2% lidocaine gel, baby shampoo, milk, or water) concluded that:[15] [16]

"...there was no significant difference in pain relief provided by five different treatment regimens. Time after exposure appeared to be the best predictor for decrease in pain..."
To avoid rubbing the spray into the skin, thereby prolonging the burning sensation, and in order to not spread the compound to other parts of the body, victims should try to avoid touching affected areas. There are also wipes, manufactured[17] for the express purpose of serving to decontaminate someone who has received a dose of pepper spray. Many ambulance services and emergency departments use baby shampoo to remove the spray and with generally good effect. Some of the OC and CS will remain in the respiratory system, but a recovery of vision and the coordination of the eyes can be expected within 7 to 15 minutes.[18]

Some "triple-action" pepper sprays also contain "tear gas" (CS gas), which can be neutralized with sodium metabisulfite (Campden tablets, used in homebrewing), though it, too, is not water soluble and needs to be washed off using the same procedure as for pepper spray

08-03-2011, 10:38 PM
Dawn dish soap really helps get it out of your hair.

You also forgot to mention that it feels like you have rocks in your eyes... not sand, ROCKS!!!

It also effects different people differently. It didn't bother my breathing, but I couldn't see jack! or jill!

I left my OC class without a doubt in my mind, if someone comes after me w/ pepper spray, I will shoot. No question.

08-03-2011, 11:14 PM
You also forgot to mention that it feels like you have rocks in your eyes... not sand, ROCKS!!!

And there I went thinking it was napalm lol

I'll have to remember the dish soap thing.