- Israeli gas mask
- M17A1 clones
These are the two most common gas masks: Israeli gas masks; and M17A1 clones.
The M17A1 clones are better as they are smaller and less easy to remove
and fog up, but cost more and are harder to easily find. If you cannot
afford a mask or cannot find one, don't fret. Two other options are using
a bandana that has been soaked in vinegar or a chemical respirator that
can be found at a hardware store. When wearing one of these you will also
need a pair of tight fitting goggles as neither protects your eyes. Ski
goggles are good. A pair of Speedo swim goggles or similar will work, but
be sure goggles seal tightly around your eye sockets!
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What to do when you get gassed or pepper sprayed without a mask
The first and most important thing to remember is to relax! If you are
well prepared mentally and have essential supplies and knowledge, you will
probably not need our medical assistance. Fear & confusion are the State's
major weapon. Confidence, determination, preparation and awareness of your
strength is your best weapon.
Prevention: Wash before with castille soap. Cover up
with water repellent clothes & gear. Use gas mask, respirators, or apple-cider
vinegar or lemon juice soaked bandana over mouth/nose; sealed (ski/swim/workshop)
goggles over eyes. Don't wear contact lenses, make-up, moisturizers or
vegetable/mineral oil-based cream. Don't use Vaseline or mineral oil as skin
Stay calm & focused. You are strong. The discomfort is only temporary &
will not damage you.
Don't touch face or rub eyes. Get to fresh air, eyes open, arms out (if
tear gas), breathe slow & deep. Blow nose, spit out chemicals. Consider
water to flush eyes & gargle/spit out chemicals. Water soaked gauze or
cotton balls on closed eyes are soothing. After treatment, wash off with
cold water & replace contaminated clothes. Wipes may be clean cloth,
gauze, 4x4s etc. . Water may have 4 drops per quart of Rescue Remedy
added. Normal Saline (0.9% sodium solution) may be substituted for
rinsing, cleaning water.
- Call for "Medic!" if needed
- Tear Gas: Effects last minutes to an hour. Maybe rinse chemical off with
- Pepper Spray: Effects last up to several hours. If still wet on skin,
carefully sponge off. Don't spread it around.
- Clinics & Hospitals
- Medical Clinics: Check to verify if there will be a Forward Clinic near
protests, and more complete Rear Clinic outside of zone.
- Hospitals: All hospitals must admit people with medical emergencies if
they are capable of treating you.
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This First Aid information will describe simple and effective techniques
to prevent and treat most of the effects from tear gas, pepper spray and
some other possibilities.
Those methods used by the police against us are not so much weapons of
pain, as they are tools of distraction. The fear of pepper spray and tear
gas is a diversion intended to control us, to cloud our vision and obscure
the weakness of the corporate State - devoid of joy or love, knowing only
the language of threats and fear.
Fear thrives on uncertainty and lack of knowledge. There is a lot of
information here. We urge that each Affinity Group or group of buddies to
appoint a Medical Monitor who learns - or can effectively refer to this,
and the other health documents on Supplies and Advice that we have issued.
We want you to stay healthy and happy.
"What history really shows is that today's empire is tomorrow's ashes,
that nothing lasts forever, and that to not resist is to acquiesce in your
own oppression. The greatest form of sanity that anyone can exercise is to
resist that force that is trying to repress, oppress, and fight down the
-- Mumia Abu Jamal
Remember, they're more scared of us than we are of them. They understand
clearly we have the power to change this rotten system, and we have
already shown that we can face down our fears.
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First, DO NO HARM
Make sure you apply treatments within your ability and understanding
level. Recognize your limits. Ask for or refer to someone more experienced
when needed. Experienced health workers know that asking for help is often
- Wipes may be clean cloth, gauze, 4x4s etc.
- Water may have 4 drops per quart of homeopathic Rescue Remedy added.
- Normal Saline (0.9% sodium solution) may be substituted for water used
for flushing eyes or cleaning wounds.
General Treatment For Tear Gas (CS, CN, CX) and Pepper Spray (OC)
- Practice first aid treatments before the action on each other so:
- You get experienced before you need to do treatments during an intense
- You know what the treatment feels like.
- Stay calm & focused. Calm others who may be panicking.
- When your body heats up (from running or panicking, for example), the
irritation may increase. Part of the reason is that your pores will open
allowing more absorption of the chemicals.
- Make your way to a safe space with fresh air where unexposed folks can
help you, or at least ensure your safety while you treat yourself.
- Face wind, open eyes, hold arms out and walk around to let fresh air
decontaminate you. Take slow deep breaths of clean air.
- Don't touch your eyes or your face, as you may re-contaminate yourself.
- Blow your nose, spit out chemicals. With tear gas, this might often be
- Before you assist or treat anyone, ask them for permission first! Then
explain to them what you are going to do before you do it.
- Wear clean gloves (mutual protection from contamination) and eye
protection, or you will end up unable to help and in need of treatment
yourself - the blowback and splashing from administering some of the
treatments can be wicked!
- Best if cleaning solutions and water spill directly to ground so as to
not contaminate clean skin, clothes or hair.
- Store contaminated wipes in a sealed bag.
- Decontaminate with a cold shower (keeps pores closed preventing
chemicals from entering skin). Do not take a bath. Scrub rigorously with
castille soap. Be careful not to get chemicals from your hair onto your
- Exchange contaminated clothing for fresh.
- Be aware that entering into a bus or a room with contaminated cloths,
hair & skin reeking of chemicals will contaminate the space.
- A contaminated room with carpets or textiles on furniture may reek for
- If possible, please change out of contaminated garments before entering
enclosed spaces such as convergence and treatment areas.
- Place contaminated clothes in bag. Squeeze out air. Seal it so the gases
will diffuse out more slowly.
Tear Gas (CS, CN, CX) Treatment
- Fresh Air. Open eyes and spread out arms towards wind.
- Consider rinsing off chemicals with water.
- See General Treatment sections for additional
- Have the victim kneel on the ground, and tilt their head back and
slightly to one side. If they are not wearing water resistant clothing and
the air temperature is cool, you may need to cover the victim with a
raincoat, poncho or plastic bag - they are about to get rather wet.
- Stand in front of the patient. With a squirt-top style drinking bottle
in one hand, use the thumb of your other hand to carefully but surely pry
the upper eyelid of one of the victim's eyes open, at least a slight
amount (this is the eye toward which their head is tilted).
- With the tip of the water bottle a few inches from the eye to be
treated, quickly squirt a strong stream of water into the eye at a slight
outward angle from nose towards ear. Use a sweeping motion, starting at
the inside corner of the eye and moving toward the outside. It is
important to squeeze hard on the bottle.
- Do not simply drizzle or gently squirt water into the eye - use a solid
stream of water. The idea is to flush the contaminants out, not to dilute
them. Merely moistening the eye may cause an increase in pain. Next,
repeat this procedure on the other eye.
(for Pepper Spray)
Works on pepper spray that is wet or dried on skin. This is dangerous if
not done precisely as it can burn skin! Don't substitute the ingredients.
Mineral Oil, Rubbing Alcohol, Clean Gauze or Cloth wipes.
- Wipe Mineral Oil on exposed skin. Keep Out Of Eyes, and off lips.
The mineral oil will trap the pepper chemicals, but doesn't neutralize it.
- Immediately wipe off all Mineral Oil with Alcohol. All Mineral Oil Must Be
Removed Or else the pepper spray still in the mineral oil can burn the
- May be repeated several times. (Consider using the Liquid
Antacid Water treatment
after first application of MOFIBA).
This is a soothing solution against the pepper spray burn to eyes, mouth,
mucus membranes and skin. Best used after initial pepper spray is removed
with MOFIBA and eye flush.
Water; Liquid Antacid (Maalox, Mylanta or generic equivalent with main
and active ingredients of 200 mg magnesium and 225 mg aluminum hydroxides
per serving) Unflavored is recommended, but hard to find. We use mint
Mix equal amount of Liquid Antacid and Water into a bottle with
a drip or squirt top.
- Eyes: Drip a few drops of LAW into each open eye.
- Mouth: Swish LAW in mouth and spit out.
- Skin: wipe on skin. It will leave a white cake-like layer.
Caution: After applying to eyes, vision will be
for up to several minutes depending on how well tear ducts are working. Patient may
not be able to safely move quickly.
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- If it hurts, don't rub it. Don't Touch Eyes.
- Touching eyes with contaminated fingers adds to eye effects.
- Expect that eyes will tear, eyelids will blink or close (especially if
pepper sprayed) and you will not see well.
- Help others with impaired vision.
- Flush eyes with water. (see Eye Flush with Water)
- Often, the eyelids may be blinking or spasming shut so this may not be
- Place gauze or cotton balls soaked in water over closed eyelids. This
brings soothing relief, even if unable to flush eyes.
- If suspecting eye injury, go to an ophthalmologist.
- Contact Lenses trap chemicals from tear gas and pepper spray. It is
certainly more irritating, and can lead to corneal damage. We strongly
advise that all contact lens wearers wear glasses instead to any protest
that risks contact with chemicals.
- If you get tear gassed or pepper sprayed wearing contact lenses, remove
them when you have clean hands and can see where your contacts are. (You
might need them to get away). Take contacts out within 5- 15 minutes.
However, if you are pepper sprayed in eyes, they might spasm shut
quickly. Once you are tearing and your lids are blinking or spasming shut
from the chemicals, it will be difficult to remove them.
- Exception - if you are about to arrested and handcuff - that's the time
to try to take them out. Try to take out contacts as soon as you
- If your hands are going to be chained up in tubes or immobilized for
your CD action - don't wear the fucking lenses!
- Wash them out with water, and/or LAW.
- Lean forward so the contaminated chemicals fall directly on the ground,
and not spread over you.
- Rinse & spit with water and/or LAW.
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- Is breathing difficult? This could be from chest tightness, or swelling
throat or mouth. If so, call for experienced help. Call out loud, "I've got
who is having breathing trouble and needs trained assistance." Encourage
- If someone is saying they can't breathe and are talking, ask them if they have
asthma or other respiratory problems. If they can speak, worry less, if they can't
speak - this may be a respiratory emergency.
- If the person is an asthmatic, ask them if they have inhaler. If they do, help
them use it, (put it in their hand). If no inhaler, get assistance. Don't use
else's inhaler as there are different medications in each.
- Have person sit, kneel or lie down if in safe area. Help them find a
position to breathe.
- If pain is at top of throat- gargle & spit water - but ONLY if the
person is able
to do so safely without choking. Do not swallow - the chemicals are bad for your
gastrointestinal tract, can cause severe symptoms for days, and aren't very
- With breathing problems from the back of throat - gargle and swallowing (which
may wash down some of the chemicals that gargling can't reach) is OK
ONLY if the
person can safely swallow. Diarrhea is better than poor breathing.
- If pain is from chest or behind breast bone, don't bother with water. All
who have breathing problems after being exposed to gas or pepper need to
- Get a proper medical check up;
- Not return to action;
- Be observed for the next 12 - 24 hours for re-occurring breathing problems.
- Stay with them until they recover completely.
Protection via hygiene:
- Avoid contacting any detergents before hand. Detergents provide a link between
the oily base of the chemical weapon and your skin, allowing the chemicals to
- Wash the clothes you will wear several times in soap that is
Avoid newly purchased clothes which generally have a substantial detergent
- Wash and rinse your scalp and dreads thoroughly. Washing your body
with unscented castille soap (such as unscented Dr. Bronners) or vegetable soap
as olive oil soap, is essential on the day of the action to rid your skin of
dead skin cells, which helps the chemicals stick to your skin.
- Avoid applying all vegetable or mineral oils--this means moisturizers, lotions,
make-up & certain sun screens. They trap chemicals to your skin. Protection via
barriers: We have no reliable reports on skin applications like clay, etc. Consider
the problems of wearing it all day, reaction to sweat, water, etc. Do not use
Vaseline or mineral oil as an attempted barrier--this is a commonly spread myth
would cause much more harm than good. They trap the chemicals to your skin.
Protection via gear:
as much as possible. Wearing a layer of clothing clinched at the wrists,
neck can prevent the irritant from getting to much of your skin.
- Fuzzy garments
trap tear gas, so wear fleece and sweaters under a protective layer. Garments
synthetic petroleum-based fabrics (fleece) can act like a wick soaking up
slowly releasing them for days after.
- For the external layer of protective
clothing, synthetic water-repellent or non-absorbing materials are better than
or wool which will soak up chemicals. Rain gear, hair cover and gloves are
Afterwards, you will want to wash, (this time with nasty harsh non-organic
to dissolve the chemicals) trash, or cheerfully donate your contaminated clothes to
Gas masks provide the best facial protection, if properly fitted and sealed. Make
sure it is not an old one with asbestos filters. Shatter resistant lenses are best.
The M17A1 model is recommended. Most eyeglass frames will not fit inside gas masks,
but contoured frames or prescription swim goggles should. The disadvantages of gas
masks are their expense, bulk, need to get a good one - there are bad ones
and you might be a target to the police.
Alternatives to a gas mask: sealed (ski/swim/workshop) eye-goggles &
respirator with filters designed for paint stripper or hazardous gases that cover
nose & mouth. Commercially available defogger solutions will keep your goggles from
steaming up and inhibiting your vision. Prescription swim goggles can be purchased
for as little as 10-20$.
An apple-cider vinegar or lemon juice wet cloth over the nose and mouth helps, is
cheap, (and will be available if your gas mask gets stolen by the police who
them). But since the vinegar itself is uncomfortable to breathe, we further
you wear paper surgical or shop respirators underneath, as long as you can still
maintain a seal with the outer layer of vinegar-soaked fabric. Even water added
bandana will provide better barriers than dry fabric. Keep several pre-soaked
bandanas in zipper bags until they are needed. If you know chemicals are
on protective gear, remove your contacts, and/or try to get away. Often clues
police deploying their gas masks. Moving away from the source, or moving upwind is
- Pepper spray is applied to crowds via spray or pump bottles, or may be
directly applied to the eyes and other sensitive membranes of locked down
activists. Often the cops need to be within a few metres of their target.
- It can come in small, hand-held dispensers (like mace), or from large
- Tear gas (CN & CS) are solids at room temperature, and must be heated or
sprayed to reach large numbers of people.
- Tear gas is emitted from canisters which are fired into crowds. They
look like a smoke bomb has gone off - emitting grey-white smoke which
blows in the direction of the wind. The canisters become extremely hot.
Pick up only with heavy duty gloves. Be extremely careful that you don't
throw it into a group of your allies. And be aware that the time it takes
you to throw it will allow you to be heavily exposed.
- Discomfort from Tear Gas and Pepper Spray is temporary and we are extremely
- Tear gas effects usually last less than a few minutes for a low to moderate
- Pepper spray is often sprayed by police deliberately in your face from
a few feet away, so you would feel much more intense effects. They will disappear
however. (The police too!)
- Widespread use of either of these agents typically results in a generalized
to the inexperienced. People begin to run in various directions, and sometimes
injuries result from collisions between partially blinded protesters or passers
- The first effect may be fear to the uninitiated. Don't worry and don't
will survive. People once gassed often get used to dealing with it.
- The severity of the effects depend on: the strength of the chemicals, how
you were dosed, the amount of ventilation to disperse the gas or particles, your
response to discomfort, barriers you are using, your respiratory reaction to
pollutants, and the treatments used.
- Tear Gas effects can last up to 45 minutes, Pepper Spray effects up to several
hours. You can then return to the action, assuming you take care of yourself in the
- In an enclosed space with no ventilation, the chemical does not disperse
have about a minute before your body starts to react more severely.
- Being outside will obviously help.
- Both are skin irritants.
- CS Tear Gas creates acid molecules on the skin.
- The more moisture our body has on it, the faster the acid is created and
are damaged, causing pain. Also, cool skin has closed pores - less chemicals enter
the skin. Warm skin from heat, the sun or a warm water wash - will open pores
allowing more chemicals in causing additional discomfort.
- Pepper Spray causes pain by stimulating chemical receptors in the skin, causing
the release of a pain-causing chemical called "Substance P".
- However, the effects are pretty similar for both.
- Both forms of chemical warfare have their most powerful effect on the eyes,
mouth and breathing passages.
- Eyes will tear, causing your vision to blur. Eyelids may blink or even
- Nose may run.
- Regular breathing will become difficult. You are likely to cough.
- Skin can have a burning sensation. Especially if you have sensitive or fair
make sure you skin is not chemically burned by a heavy dose.
- Treat red skin that looks like a sunburn, as if it is a first degree burn.
- Disorientation and confusion is possible.
- There are reports from Seattle of a higher than usual number of women
chemical weapons experiencing spontaneous menstruation beyond the norm for a
stressful event. At least one spontaneous abortion - or miscarriage - was reported.
Some women reported irregular periods persisting for months after the event.
be due to the methylene chloride propellant.
- Anger from Pepper Spray is common, and can be useful if you are prepared
to focus it.
- Maybe you can use your anger to motivate you to recover faster and get back in
the action again. Maybe it will provide you with just enough energy to get out to a
Pepper Spray Concerns
- Since pepper spray is often sprayed at a close distance, the police may
- Physically remove your goggles/ breathing protection.
- Spray between your face and your goggles/mask (which if your hands are
locked down, makes them a trap for the chemical).
- It can be hazardous. People have died from respiratory failure (no
protesters that we are aware of).
- Asthmatics should bring their bronchodilators.
Tear Gas & Pepper Spray Concerns
- The propellants and/or active ingredients can cause cancer, are mutagenic
and hence potentially teratogenic. One form of tear gas (CN) used during
the WTO is 50% solvent. The solvent - methylene chloride as used in paint
stripper - is a highly toxic chemical which can cause altered central
nervous system function.
If police are shooting plastic bullets, wear shatter resistant eye
protection. Protect your throat with your hand, and if possible, turn away
from direction of fire. While the plastic bullets fired from CO2 charges
(as used in Seattle) should not penetrate skin, they do bruise, can blind
and do shatter glass lenses from at least 20 metres / 60 feet away.
Plastic Bullet Concerns
- They may shatter and penetrate eye-glasses and gas-mask lens.
The military's public paranoia about chemical weapons is focused on
foreign terrorist threats. But who are they kidding - chemical weapon
violence is almost always unleashed by State forces against its citizens.
Still, they do publish some useful information. Lacking is information on
long term health consequences.