With the increasing crime rate in India, safety is becoming a major concern. The rising risk comes with the need to be duly prepared. The threat is more so for women because in a patriarchal society with a dipping sex ratio, the cases of violence against women are more voluminous. Hence, self defense techniques today are not just an extra security measure but a necessity.
While the traditional karate kick to the groin has been advocated in movies and close friends would encourage jabbing the eyes of the attacker, when attacked, fear is an overpowering sensation and these techniques are mostly hit and miss. With the tireless, repeated advocacy of the kick to the groin, even the attacker today expects it and would be prepared for it. Plus, an partially injured attacker can still grab hold of a woman and pin her down till he recovers sufficiently.
The concept of pepper spray is a novelty in India, though its benefits would be undeniable. It’s effective, easy to operate and renders the attacker instantaneously blind.
The Mechanism: Pepper spray defense uses an active ingredient (oleoresin capsicum – chili peppers) which is an inflammatory agent and not just an irritant. In layman terms that would mean that pepper spray doesn’t just irritate the skin, eyes and nose, but instead inflames the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract, swells the eyes and causes pain. The person sprayed with pepper spray (the attacker) experiences coughing and choking and is incapacitated for a period of 10 minutes to an hour depending on the concentration of the spray.
As an inflammatory agent, pepper spray is even effective on those who feel no pain such as those under the influence of intoxicants or psychotics.
This time window allows the victim to make a run for it, call for help (if there are emergency numbers on speed dial) or gather local help to deal with the attacker. The attacker, because of his sudden blindness, is rendered helpless.
Availability in India:In India, pepper spray isn’t as readily available as it is abroad. The misconceptions related to its effectiveness have caused people not to carry pepper sprays for their safety. However, contrary to popular beliefs human beings can detect the chief ingredient even when it’s diluted to one part in ten million. In fact, it is so effective, that, law enforcement agencies across the world prefer pepper spray over tear gas.
Yet, there are few stores and sites that sell ready-made pepper sprays. However, this easy-to-carry weapon can also be made at home with a handful of ingredients. One can even sit down with a few friends and make the laborious but essential activity of making pepper spray a fun evening.
Safety First: Making pepper spray can prove dangerous if adequate care is not taken. Thus, one should refrain from touching their face or eyes while preparing the mixture. If possible, goggles should be worn; clean water should be placed close by to provide relief.
Further, fatty milk (non-skimmed) is considered an effective antidote. The affected area can be submerged or washed with the milk to help ease the pain, although the ingredient causing the discomfort will persist for a while.
- 100 g – Hot chili powder (The chili powder can be made from scratch using a mixture of chili peppers and black, tabletop peppers. While chili peppers cause the swelling, black chili causing coughing and wheezing)
- 200 ml – Ethanol (Ethanol is nothing but the chemical name for pure alcohol)
- 20 ml – Baby oil (To maintain the viscosity of the final liquid. Thus, you can vary the quantity accordingly)
- 1 – Empty (preferably unused) aerosol spray bottle
- Mix the hot chilli power and ethanol together. Stir for 15 minutes because you want to dissolve the maximum amount of powder into the ethanol. The chili should be completely submerged in the ethanol.
- Run the mixture through a sieve to make sure there is no solid chili powder left. Solid chili can clog up the spraying system and render the spray bottle useless. Thus, it is of utmost importance to do this carefully.
- Boil it till the ethanol evaporates and there is a waxy consistency substance left behind. Ethanol activates capsaicin in the chili powder making it potent.
- Now add the baby oil to create a viscous liquid.
- Pour it into the bottle and store carefully. A small bottle enables you to snugly fit the pepper spray into your handbag or a pocket.
Aim and Spray: Make sure the pepper spray isn’t lost in the mess in your bag. If attacked, keep a little distance between yourself and your attacker (as you don’t want to be affected by the spray). Aim at his face and spray for 2 – 5 seconds.
Let’s hope you never have to be in a fix wherein you need to use pepper spray. But then, you’re better safe than sorry.