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SECURITY

How To Defeat Tear Gas In A Riot

how-to-defeat-tear-gas-in-a-riot

Survival Tip: How to defeat tear gas in a riot

 
In a collapse of civil order, a riot can break out in any number of scenarios…

* Any disaster (natural, man-made, economic) that causes food shortages
* Political and/or racial unrest that triggers protests
* Desperate revolt at supply distribution points
* Looting during a civil breakdown
* Etc..

You can try to avoid these types of scenarios, but the reality is, you may find yourself thrust into any one of them in the uncertain times that we’re currently facing.

When a riot breaks out, one of the most common crowd dispersion tools used by police or military is tear gas.

And if you’ve ever been exposed to tear gas, you quickly realize why it’s so effective:


 

You can’t see a thing due to uncontrollable stinging in your eyes and massive tearing.

Breathing becomes complete agony and you’ll feel like you’re suffocating.

You will run wildly in terror to get to breathable air as fast as possible.

 
Remember this…

A stampeding mob running away from tear gas ISN’T going to politely step around you.

They will trample ANYTHING in the way of their desperate scramble for oxygen.

That’s why the first thing you need to do in a riot scenario is prepare yourself against tear gas so you can stay calm and escape to safety fast.

 
The best defense against tear gas is a gas mask… but most people don’t have one on them.

So to protect yourself, here are 3 tips for what to do…

1. Have a pair of tight-fitting swim goggles with you – they’re fast and easy to put on and will protect your eyes from the gas.

2. Keep a jumbo bandanna and a small plastic bottle of vinegar handy. Soak the bandanna in vinegar before putting it over your nose and mouth to breathe. The combination (although not ‘neutralizing’) will act as a filter to some extent, better than nothing.

3. Get upwind or escape to high ground (like a hill or building roof top) – The gas stays low to the ground and high ground.

 
Any further ideas or suggestions?

 
Note: ‘Tear Gas’ is technically a micro-pulverized powder dispensed with a pressure sprayer, or various grenade-like canisters. If it is in the eyes, to clear the eyes have the victim lie down, turn his head to the side and wash the eyes with water or saline. You are removing the micro-pulverized powder from the eyes and face and not washing it over into the other eye.

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67 Comments

  1. I’m trying to be on my way if not already at my BOL by the time chaos starts. However, if I ever did find myself in a situation that is about to get out of control, I would attempt to divert to another route if far enough away from the actual center mass. If I were stopped in traffic, I always have a full face respirator, taser, mobile phone, walkie talkie in my GHB and firearm in my vehicle. If you find yourself to have been exposed to tear gas, then as soon as possible take a shower, and wash the clothes you were wearing.

    These days tensions are rising. Every time I get into my vehicle I know my options of alternate routes to take going and coming back just in case. If in unfamiliar area, having a current road map of that area is a must have.

    Staying alert could save your life!!

  2. Thanks for the post Ken. I think I may put a few masks in the vehicles. Does anyone know how high temperatures affects the life of filters?

    1. Temperatures should not effect the filters but high humidity or moisture will. The primary component is after all charcoal.

      Masks and Filters: Keep in mind that those filters will be useless against any true “gas”. I don’t care what kind they are or where you got them. They all have a limited shelf life BEFORE they are taken out of the vapor proof packaging. They are not sold as surplus until they have long expired. After that they will only protect you from particulates like training or riot agents.
      IF somehow you have filters that have not expired and are still in the moisture proof packaging (very unlikely)they will, after removal, only be effective against chemical warfare agents for a few months at best.

      Treatment: Fresh air and as much as you can get. Flushing your eyes with water or eye wash is also helpful. That’s all there is to it. Fresh air will also decontaminate your clothing.

  3. I have been told that lead is a heavy metal that can be lethal if taken internally but is an excellent antidote for tear gas if administered in the proper dosage by those effected by tear gas.

    1. How is it taken? I’d have concerns as their can be serious side effects to lead; cancer, dementia, reproductive harm, etc. Ringers solution is in for eye irrigating, saline is out. The pH of ringers more closely matches the eye’s pH. we always dreaded when the LEOs would bring in their “clients” who had been pepper sprayed. Decontamination always meant we were going to get a whiff of it. In Vietnam we had a CS launcher that looked like a backpack and fired rockets out in a fan pattern. these were set up on the perimeter of the base camps and electronically detonated. Problem was when ever we would have a thunder storm. Lightning hitting anyway near by would set them off. Then cloud of gas would roll across the camp. I think they were called E8s. My advice is get out of the area laterally and face into the breeze or wind. Forces deploying it do so from upwind. find a garden hose and flush you face copiously.

      As an aside there was a story about Juvenile Hall in San Diego. It is located next to a hospital. As the story goes the staff lost one of their charges while they were booking her. Three off the officers in plainclothes rushed out looking for her. They saw a young Hispanic lady crossing the parking lot and started chasing her. She saw them and started running. They caught up with her, tackled her and pepper sprayed her, Turns out she was staff at the hospital and they never identified themselves. How do you spell law suit?

    2. No joke,

      Your internet balls are bigger than your brain. One person shooting at a large organized group of armed people tends not to end well for that individual. Sounds cute on the internet but stupid in practice!!!!

    3. Well, of course it’s possible to use lead for this purpose!

      Recommended Dosage is usually one or two rounds (jacketed hollow-point preferred) administered to the head of the afflicted individual…

      If done properly, it will provide instant and complete relief from any and all effects of the tear gas — which is why its such an excellent antidote!

      …try it out on yourself sometime and you’ll see!

      1. Mama says,

        Regulars on this site tend to give advice based on personal experience. May I suggest that you test out your advice, then report back. We’ll wait.

  4. On the subject of safe breathing, I recently purchased a full face respirator that was advertised on a prepper web site along with 3 NBC (Nuclear, biological, chemical rated) cartridges. I received the respirator but the cartridges were coming from another vendor. I just got the notice that the cartridge order was canceled, no longer available! so then I went to the industrial supply house that I had bought my first one from two years ago. The same cartridges that I had bought two years ago for $35 was now selling for $130.00each!!! They were out of stock even at this price!!! Next I went on line with the same results!! Then I found out what has happened!!! WE HAVE A GLOBAL SHORTAGE OF NBC CARTRIDGES!!! MILITARIES HAVE BOUGHT ALL Available!!!

    I’m fortunate in that I purchased 8 cartridges two years ago so now I have 4 units for each respirator.

    This also is evidence that global militaries are preparing for nuclear war!!

    Please research for yourselves what I found. If someone finds a source for NBC rated cartridges please let me know on this blog ASAP!!! Also continue to be aware of all of your vital survival supplies that might become unavailable in the future. Its becoming real folks!!!

    One is none and two is one!!!

    1. After careful review of your file — with special attention given to your comment above — we are happy to inform you that we no longer consider you to be a threat to our national security. Our decision is based on the following factors:

      – Belief that global armies are just NOW preparing for Nuclear war…which is about 40 years too late
      – Absolutely awful math skills or complete inability to understand basic arithmetic

      We apologize for the misunderstanding and will promptly remove your name from our watch list

  5. We also tend to avoid situations where there are large crowds. Good information to have just in case though.

  6. @me
    Lead is an antidote for tear gas if administer in the range of 55 grains to 220 grains depending on the body weight of the recipient. At this concentration rate cancer, dementia, or reproductive concerns are almost never manifest.

    1. I checked various places and even the CDC site and can find no references to using lead as a treatment.
      Could the E.R. Doc go into more detail?
      Thanks

    2. Okay, at that dose it would have to be a parenteral administration and should be probably be given IM as a rapid push probably somewhere between 1800 and 3200 fps?

  7. When I was a kid, my family and grandparents went to Washington DC to watch the July 4th celebration. Before dusk, the DC cops decided to “disperse the crowd” with teargas.
    My folks didn’t think to bring along any swimming masks. We trusted the government.
    My folks didn’t think to be armed with a bandana and vinegar, or even with a respirator, much less a gas mask.
    So naturally, my folks didn’t realize that we needed to be completely away from all of the other blanket-sitting American patriots waiting for the July 4th firecracker show to begin.
    We, along with all of the other folks sitting around, were teargassed. The other teargas victims included a small infant sitting in a stroller. I will never forget the father yelling out, “They teargassed my baby!!”

    That was in the 1970s. Back then, the cops were in simple uniforms. Now, the cops don full military “riot gear”, bullet-proof protection, and enough weaponry to be ready for war at a moment’s notice. I am not so naive to believe that cops will reach for teargas as their #1 choice when a “riot” situation escalates. I also do not hold up Ferguson as an example of how police will behave in a “riot situation” because much of Ferguson was planned and agitated to serve Obama’s political activism. In the reality that doesn’t involve a quasi-government provocation/riot, teargas will not be their #1 choice for defensive or offensive measures. I remember Kent State and the MLK riots.

    I agree that folks should be prepared for a variety of scenarios. Part of our preparedness includes prevention — meaning, stay away from large crowds. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big holiday sale, a large political gathering, etc. If, for some reason, you are in a crowd, be an outlier and stay away from the center zone and the exit area unless you can determine a safe and quick exit for yourself.

    Better to hunker down and be a gray man than to be noticed, it seems.

  8. I tend to stay away from “large crowds”, and places with ignorant people. Very hard to do these days, so good luck with that one.

    I did recently had an interesting encounter that I would like to share.

    Silverton CO on the 4th of July has a week long event, which ends with one of the best fireworks displays in the country. I was invited to camp at a locals place/home right in the middle of town, with a fantastic view of the fireworks area. I mean like 500 feet from the base of the show. All week was a great time and the crowd was 100% patriotic. The parade was truly heart warming as every time an American Flag passed everyone and I do mean everyone rose and was 100000% respectful. Unfortunately when the crowd started to show up for the fireworks this little town of literally 4-500 residents grows to (estimates this year) 35,000. Yes 35,000. It’s shear craziness to sit there and watch the idiots try to out-shuffle others for a single parking space. obviously the locals all seem to get a little nervous as this little town is overwhelmed. What is also interesting that all and I do mean all of the locals are armed and deputized each year for one week. FYI not publicized. Some even carry, discretely,shotguns and ARs. What is even more interesting, there was not a single incident or arrest the entire time I was there. Not a single one. Amazing I think for a group of 35,000 stuffed into a town the size of a postage stamp actually behaved themselves.

    The reason for my telling this story….. If your going to risk your life and limb going to a city like Chicago, Detroit, NYC, DC, or LA, good luck if you ever get out of your car. The people and their attitudes are frightening to say the least and getting worse. Choose your area well, or you may just get gassed by some trigger happy loon.

    I guess I don’t see a single reason to get anywhere a “crowd” and take ANY chances.

    BTW, the International Rhubarb Festival at Silverton is figgen FANTASTIC!!!!
    NRP

    1. Rubbharb festival?? Yes! Thanks for the info. I love large crowds. I just came back from Standing Rock. Lots of different gasses there and often at close range and for up to 10 seconds. Stay away? I don’t think so. This is really important stuff.

      At Standing Rock we are using Milk of Magnesia and then water/soap baths or cottonballs soaked with any of the following: pure aloe, lavender water, rosewater, or milk (even soy) with a bit of lavender etc. And also a clothes change.

  9. well…no idea if this is silly,

    but I saw on some site, some long time back, a couple (man/woman) got caught in similar situation. She whipped her bra off, he tore it in half, (and I think they doused it with some fluid), and each used half as a mask.

    any thoughts?

      1. Okay, I couldn’t help myself, hope nobody was offended, I will be a nice boy from now on.
        But seriously, cut them in half? Wouldn’t that take a pair of shears? They certainly wouldn’t put their heads together and strap it on? I just can’t picture this.
        I would think pulling of your T-shirt would be more effective and much easier.

        1. @ Thox
          WHAT!!!????? be nice??? hahahaha what so ever would we want that for. If we, as adults, cant have a little clean fun at times we now live in than what’s it all worth?
          NRP

        2. okay, Thox…as one who wears the garment (grin) I can tell you it certainly would be possibly with “modern bras” for someone to rip in half. (I am thinking that yrs back they were made of tougher stuff/tougher stitching). Like most things these days, they are not made to last. Even the higher priced ones could be ripped around / through the middle. Especially if there was incentive like “gas”.

          1. I’ve always been more interested in the contents than the container, so this has been very informative.

    1. @ well
      We make fun, but in all seriousness that’s a rather good idea. Even if soaked with a little water, it would be a lot better than nothing
      Thanks
      NRP

      1. Yep. This could work IF the bra was at least a C, had a TINY portion connecting the bra in front, and was soaked in Vinegar (which you can carry a small sportswater bottle filled with it).

      2. Yep. This could work IF the bra was at least a C, had a TINY portion connecting the bra in front, and was soaked in Vinegar (which you can carry a small sports water bottle filled with it).

  10. I had to train in tear gas many times in the service. Try to get out of everyone else’s way and remain calm. Hard to do, but quite possible if you can maintain your self control. You still want to filter it as soon as you can, but it won’t kill you.

    1. I’ve regularly eaten gas for 35 yrs. military and law enforcement.
      OC, CS and back in the day CN which pretty much isn’t used anymore.
      You can operate in a chemical environment if you can maintain control of your mind.
      OC is worse than CS. It’s harder to get off of you.

      With CS get out of the cloud, face the wind and walk into it. Don’t rub your eyes. You will be ok soon. Let the snot run and just blow it out in the ground.

      With OC you want to wash with water. Cold water. Remember anywhere The initially contaminated water runs will also be effected. So if it’s in your face don’t let the cold water run down on your genitals. Again don’t rub your eyes.

      With both wash your clothes on COLD water. Heat can regenerate the chemicals. Air (cool) and time are your friends. Don’t panic and control your mind.

      If your carry personal CS it expires in a couple of years. Take a small amount on your finger and just wipe it below your eye on your cheek. It will cause enough discomfort to know the effects but not hurt you badly. You can progress to a full spray eventually. If you have asthma or heart conditions don’t do this though.

      It ain’t easy but if it was it wouldn’t be effective.

  11. does tear gas rise or fall?

    that is, if one can find a safe hidey hole, should one get as low as possible, or as high as possible?

    1. Anon, it “depends” entirely upon WHAT kind of agent is being used against the crowd. Pepper balls combined with CS powder can be extremely effective on the “leaders” of the crowd/s. However, most crowd applications are deployed from “grenades”, they burn like smoke canisters do and are extremely hot. That gas/air mixture tends to stay about 10 feet or less above the ground depending entirely upon wind, air temps, etc.I would NOT want to find myself a below-ground hidey hole to try and mitigate the effects of various chemical agents being used. There are some rather nasty ones out there in MOST civilian law enforcement inventories, contrary to popular belief. Having access to some portable canisters of bear-spray to help mitigate the “crowd crush” is also a good idea, IF you are moving upstream against the crowd, or trying hard to get to the EDGE/Outside of the crowd/mob itself.

      1. I’ve read that in South America, ‘protesters’ carried simple kitchen pots and placed them over the grenades as soon as they hit the ground. seemed to greatly reduce the grenades’ effect.

  12. I remember well going through the gas chamber in basic training at Fort Ord, Ca. in 1971. CS gas is no joke. The Army D.I.’s got real pleasure from tossing CS canisters in to our tents while we were sleeping. Try donning an M17 mask in your sleep while choking and blinded sometime. It’s a real treat for anyone. My M17A2 is never far away. Stay ready.

    1. Funny thing is the Training Manual (TM) strictly forbid the use of CS & CN grenades in an enclosed environment. It also specifically prohibited the name, rank, and serial number routine. I think I was the only person to actually read the manual. But then again, I was Air Force and knew how to read.

      1. USMC boot camp gas chamber. Oh what fun! They took us in there by squad then had us all don our masks. They’d pop the canister and let it smoke up real real good. Then individually they’d come up to you and have you take off your mask and they’d ask you a general knowledge question like one of your general orders or something. This was pretty far along in boot camp and by then most people had no problems with their questions. Getting the question wrong was good fun, drop and do push-ups then get up and try for another question. One guy got two questions wrong, finally got the third right and ran out of there so fast he dropped his mask. They made him go back in there to get it. He came back out and his eyes were crazy red, his nose was running like Niagara, and he threw up. Even after all that he ended up doing just fine through boot camp. So no, we didn’t get the “hold your breathe” option. Everyone came out of there with a good taste of it. The interesting thing is, every time we did something new in boot camp one of the DIs would demonstrate before we did it, including the gas chamber. Of course he didn’t look nearly as pitiful as us boots did.

        P.S. I wasn’t that guy, but I was right behind him praying that I would get mine right and that it wasn’t one with a long answer so I didn’t have to breathe too much. :)

        1. Grits,
          The Army did about the same when I was in boot. Wait till the room was full of gas and had us pull off the mask.

          The best part was at the end of NBC training we had a big gathering. Then out of nowhere they popped the gas. GAS,GAS,GAS. About a 1/4 of the group just took off running the rest of us put on our masks and cleared them. Afterwards they had a roll call of all the gear that was left by those that ran. Weapons, helmets, clothes and the best was the gas masks. They called them all out by name in front of everyone. Those of us who put on our masks laughed like crazy. “Hey soldier you left your weapon and mask. You might need these. ” LOL.

          CS is some nasty stuff.

          Adapt and Overcome.

  13. hold your breath. It is the only way if you do not have a gas mask. When I was in basic they put us through tear gas training with and without the gas mask. Once you start breathing tear gas you will cough and gasp and cannot stop taking in more lung fulls of it. You must hold your breathe until you can get away from it. Another “trick” is once your lungs begin to demand air to take in very short breaths, a few spoonfuls, no more. This will help stop the involuntary gasping after you cannot hold your breath any longer. Will the tear gas you breathe in “harm” you? Not much. It needs to get to the sensitive tissue inside your lungs to cause the gasping, coughing and spasms. As for your eyes. There isn’t much you can do. If you do not have something to protect your eyes than squint and even keep one eye closed. It will help a little and if you can keep one eye closed you will be able to see out of it once you escape the gas. Forget gas masks unless you are part of the planning to use the tear gas because the odds of you having it when you need it are a million to one. Best bet is avoid demonstrations or events where tear gas is likely to be used.

  14. …cs, mace and pepper gas suck to get hit with, BUT remember they will NOT kill most HEALTHY people. Best thing is to stay clear of it, it HURTS.

  15. I saw a major network news show some years back that was about how toxic the seats and other plastics inside jetliners is if one should catch fire while your in it. ( On the ground . In the air you have bigger problems.) The person who did the segment stated that they would carry a clear plastic bag they could put over their head and hold closed at the neck. This would keep the thick ,heavy sticky smoke from blinding them , and the air inside holds enough oxygen to give you a few seconds to get off the plane if the slides have deployed. This could be something to keep in the pocket to give yourself a chance to outrun the teargas.

    1. Take a plastic bag outside and light a match to it. Do you really want that wrapped around your head and face in a burning aircraft?

  16. I was talking with a colleague from Turkey. He said all the restaurants would pass out lemons when the gas would start during the protests they had a while back. He claimed it helped clean off the residue better. Anyone else heard of this? Seems a bit strange to me….

    1. It kinda makes sense. I just read a book about the Egyptian uprising in Tahrir Square during the “Arab Spring”, and everyone mentioned the same countermeasures for tear gas: a cloth soaked in vinegar as a mask and Coke/Pepsi to wash out the eyes. I would assume that it was the acid in the soft drinks rather than the sugar that made it work, so lemon makes sense. I’m not sure I’d want to squeeze lemon into my eyes, though…

      1. I was always told to use MILK to wash teargas out of the eyes. I don’t know where you guys are hearing this acid stuff.

  17. I would discourage the use of lime/lemon juice or soft drinks in ones eyes. If you think its a good idea then go outside and pour coke or a squirt lime juice. Get back to me with your experience. I would love to know.
    Normally natural tearing and fresh air would be all you would need. Clean water could be used to speed it up.

    As for vinegar and a handkerchief… Again Riot control/tear gas is a particulate. Any wet cloth will filter out most of it. Water works just as good as vinegar and is cheaper.

  18. I have less than fond memories of “Confidence Chamber” training in the Navy. The first time was pretty miserable. The second trip during battle stations was only 1/2 as bad. During “A” school, we had the opportunity to go through it again in the DC trainer. By that time, the effects were noticeably less. At a Marine Corps base on the west coast, there additional training with the pepper paint balls and oc spray. The paint balls are the worst no way to escape, and its all over so every time you move you get some more. For the oc spray, milk was a major help. Relieved the effects by 50% immediately. They would spray us in the face/eyes, and then we would run about 50 yards and take down a dummy. We had to handcuff the dummy, and then we were done. I cuffed a wrist to a leg and didn’t care! I guess maybe all I can say is more exposure to it allows you to better handle it or to have less negative effects.

  19. – Many years ago, I was “selected” to run a gas chamber as part of a training exercise for an Army hospital… all day long, multiple iterations. I was given the little paint-type can of CS capsules that you were to open and place the powder within on the bottom of an upturned coffee can with vent holes in it over a candle, because it was “Less Expensive”.

    Okay, I can do this. I took my mask off in the chamber just like the rest of my subjects but got tired of that after about three times. I took most of the groups through without taking my mask off through the day. Word went back to command that ‘Sgt. Smurf isn’t taking his mask off when everyone else is!’ Oh, the other thing was, I added another capsule every other time when I went through, because it was windy and the doors were open for quite a while.

    At any rate, I had about 14 of the 500mg capsules on the top of that can when the word came down about that. I was a little bit irked, but sure, I can do this. I took the last group into the chamber, made sure everyone was doing alright, then took my mask off and stowed it. I stood just in front of the door out, had each one unmask and talk to me. The majority of the group were female nurses that had put the gas chamber off until last because of the side effects.

    Some of them tried the holding their breath technique; some of them were quite good at it. One managed to talk on what air she had held, until I asked her what her measurements were. Never found out, as the sharp intake of breath ended our conversation. I think she threw up as soon as she cleared the door. Even the Colonel was in the group. She was the Director of Nurses for the hospital. She talked to me too.

    The General wanted to speak to me afterwards. I recounted the experience for him (he had gone through in one of the first couple of groups and remembered that I had taken my mask off with his group.) I explained what had happened, and what I had done. He was a bit horrified at the quantity of CS at the end (the recommendation is for two or three!) but burst out laughing when I recounted the story of the last group and what I had done.

    No one in the last group denied that I had been without my mask the entire time while questioning the group one by one. I was in no trouble at all; but I was never again selected to run the gas chamber!

    It’s purely a matter of Mind Over Matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter!

    – Papa S.

    1. Papa,When we went through the gas chambers at Ft. Polk, way back when, we enter in groups of ten, with the gas mask riding in it’s pouch on our right leg. I found myself standing directly over the can the CS gas was burning in. Once inside, in a line, we were ordered to remove our mask, clear it and adjust the seal. Once everyone had done so, we were ordered to remove the mask, recite the “orders of the guard”, before replacing the mask on our heads and clear it again. Once that was performed, remove the mask, place it correctly into it’s leg carrying pouch, secure it properly, before exiting the building. No way possible to cheat.

      Once clear of the door, everyone was fighting for one of the two water hoses they had going, strings of snot flying around, a few even threw up.

      Some things one never forgets.

  20. Sounds daft but I was caught in Tear Gas clouds several times last weekend here in Hong Kong while I was photographing. At one time I had at least 10 gas ‘capsules” within a few feet of me. The police were firing the canisters into a high ceiling and the capsules were dropping all around me. My eyesight was obviously affected but found a direction & walked to a McDonalds where I teared until l was ok. Maybe 5 minutes so I could go back out.

    Took a “Menthos” sweet immediately after being hit by the gas and had very little discomfort in my mouth and throat.

  21. Having just returned from Chile and experience TG – we discovered most young Chileans know that limes and Bicarbonate of Soda are the remedies of choice for Tear Gas – the price of both have increased dramatically in Santiago and Valparaiso.

  22. Just read an article about Hong Kong protesters using leaf blowers against tear gas which gave me an idea. Has anyone ever tried using a fire department issued PPV (positive pressure ventilation) fan against tear gas? They work amazing to clear a building of smoke, but I don’t know how they would do in an open air environment. There would most definitely be an effect of some sort. I’m just trying to figure out if it would be positive, negative, or neutral.

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