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Information For Protestors

IntronIAs a protester, one should always be aware of the dangers, both medical and otherwise, present at any demonstration. This page deals mostly with preparing for medical emergencies at a protest, and medical safety. The links page, however has many links to help protesters deal with non-medical dangers.

SummarynIThe following table contains quick links to all of the dangers a protester should be aware of before going to a protest. Each subject contains general information, preventative measures, signs and symptoms, and links to the treatment page. The general section just below the table gives information about general safety issues a protestor should bear in mind during a protest.

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General Safety


PLAN AHEAD: For essential needs, care & supplies. Know what to expect. Know how to get assistance. How to re-contact your buddies if separated.
ATTITUDE: You are powerful. You can easily withstand most of what the police throw at you, and you are a warrior for justice. Remember, pain is only temporary, and we are extremely strong.
THE #1 WEAPON OF THE POLICE IS FEAR. Once you control that, tear gas, pepper spray, plastic bullets and other police tactics are easily manageable.
COMMON SENSE: Keep your wits, assess what is going down and what needs to be done.
BE CALM & FOCUSED when things get most intense. React to danger or warning signs sooner - not later. Watch for signs of physical and mental problems in yourself and others. Cool down others who exhibit panic behavior.
BEWARE OF RUMORS: They are usually false, and foster fear & disruption. Deal with the known truth.
DOCUMENT police actions, brutality & injuries.
ANGER Intense anger is quite common with pepper spray, and can be useful if you are prepared and able 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 energy to get out to a safe space.


Always know where a safe space is to treat yourselves, others and to get away from immediate dangers. Ask other to help create a safe zone around a treatment area. Prevent undercover photographers from filming the injured. A safe space is what you make of it & they can change. It can be a doorway, park, alley, or on the front lines in the arms of your comrades.


(Adapted from "Princeton University Outdoor Action Guide to Hypothermia and Cold Weather Injuries" by Rick Curtis)

We expect that hypothermia will be a major concern if the weather is cold and the protesters are not adequately prepared to be exposed to cold for a long time. Quebec City is a chilly and windy area. Remember, most people are outside in the winter for less than 30 minutes at a time. Few are out for more than two hours. Quebec City climate: April: Minimum: -2 Celsius/ 28 Fahrenheit. Maximum: 8 Celsius/ 46 Fahrenheit , snow + rain May: Minimum: 5 Celsius / 41 Fahrenheit. Maximum: 17 Celsius / 63 Fahrenheit.

Hypothermia occurs when the body cools down too much because of cold weather or being wet and cool.

Risk Factors: Cool , cold, wet, or windy environment. Improper clothing and equipment. Fatigue. Dehydration. Age. Immobility. Poor food intake. No Knowledge of Hypothermia. Alcohol intake, cigarettes. Poor circulation. Not taking hypothermia seriously.

Prevention of hypothermia & cold injuries:

· Keep well hydrated, drink at least 2-3 liters a day, and eat energy foods such as carbohydrates.
· Dress appropriately for long term exposure to the weather. This cannot be stressed enough. Have the attitude that you are going camping, and need to remain comfortable during the various weather - and without the luxury of being able to get to shelter as needed. In the morning, it will be chilly or cold - you will need warm clothes layers. The afternoon will be warmer, and to keep from sweating, you will need to remove layers. In the evening/night, it will get cold again. It could rain so you need to stay dry. Insulate with layers of dry clothes that can breath (let body moisture escape). Think about : winter gear, long underwear, snowsuits, warm boots, hat & gloves, etc.
· Carry extra dry clothes. Especially socks and shirts.
· Make sure clothes, boots and gloves are not constricting with the layers. Tight clothes, boots and gloves may constrict circulation of warm blood, and can decrease the insulation ability of the materials.
· Avoid local pressure, cramped position.
· If you are going to be immobile, or on the ground: You need extra insulation - both clothes and ground protection. Think about padded hockey pants, foam padding, etc.
· Gear: consider hand and feet warmers, aluminum space blankets, thermos.
· Prevent getting wet - water resistant outer gear is not only good against rain & water, but also works fine against wind, tear gas and pepper spray.
· Wear shell on the outside against wind - if no risk of getting wet or exposed to chemicals.
· Clothes next to skin must be of materials such as synthetics or wool, that can wick away sweat. Cotton (our most common clothing material) next to skin is bad - it soaks up sweat and you remain wet.
· If you know that overheating is not a risk factor, consider antiperspirant to reduce sweating. (Especially on feet)
· A good hat is a must - we loose a significant amount of heat through our head.
· Avoid cigarettes and diuretics such as coffee or alcohol as they shunt warm blood away from skin.
· "Buddy system" keep a regular watch on each other's faces, ask about hands & feet sensation.
· Regular "self check" for cold areas, wet feet, numbness.
· If at any time you discover a cold injury, stop & rewarm the area (unless doing so places you at greater risk).

Signs of Hypothermia:

Mild: Shivering. Can't do complex motor functions with hands but can still walk and talk. Skin is cool due to vasoconstriction. Hands numb. If shivering can be stopped voluntarily, it is mild hypothermia. If a person cannot count backwards from 100, they could be hypothermic.

Moderate Hypothermia:
Shivering not under voluntary control . Loss of fine motor control - particularly in hands - can't zip up coat - due to restricted peripheral blood flow. Incoordination.
May have: Dazed consciousness. Slurred speech. Violent shivering. Irrational behaviour - may even undress unaware that s/he is cold. "I don't care attitude" - flat emotions/affect.

Severe Hypothermia: (Don't let it get this far!): Shivering occurs in waves until shivering finally ceases. Irrational. May be able to maintain posture and appearance of awareness. Progresses to: Person can't walk, curls up into fetal position to conserve heat. Muscle rigidity. Skin is pale. Pupils dilate (become big). Pulse rate decreases. As it progresses, breathing and heart rate decreases. Then the person looks dead, but is still alive.


Treatment of Hypothermia:

Hypothermia can develop into a medical emergency. The person must be re-warmed.

Mild to Moderate Hypothermia
The best way is by the person's own body heat. Replace wet clothes with dry clothes. Additional layers of dry clothes & blankets to insulate the person against escaping body heat. Increase physical activity. Consider: Get out of cold. Add Fuel & Fluids: Carbohydrates are quick (best in mild hypothermia) & Proteins which gives a slower heat over a longer time. Fats give off heat slower and longer, but takes more energy & water to break down fat.
Inefficient ways: Hot drinks. Feels better than is effective. Careful not to burn mouth/tongue.
Add Heat: External heat source (warm room).
If outside: body to body contact - get into a sleeping bag in dry clothing with a warm person in lightweight dry clothing. Heat pads.

Severe Hypothermia

1. Reduce Heat Loss:
Hypothermia wrap: Provide a shell of total insulation. No matter how cold, the patient can still internally rewarm themselves more efficiently than any external rewarming. Make sure patient is dry, with synthetic layer to minimize sweating on skin. Use multiple layers, foam, etc. to create insulation. Include aluminum "space" blanket to prevent radiant heat loss.
2. Add Fuel & Fluids:
Warm Sugar Water - With severe hypothermia, stomach shuts down and wont absorb solid foods. Dilute mixture of warm water w sugar every 15 minutes. Dilute Jello works best since it is part sugar part protein.
Urination: A full bladder is a place for extra heat loss. You will need to help the person urinate.
3. Add Heat:
Hot water bottles, hot pads, etc. to transfer heat to major core arteries - neck, armpits, groin, palms of hands. Best to rewarm the core body this way only - not the arms & legs. (When person becomes hypothermic, blood is shunted away from arms/legs. If peripheral vessels open up, cold acidic blood from periphery goes to core - may cause heart arrhythmias and death.



· Happens only in temperature below freezing. If tissue freezes, ice crystals form in cells. Distal areas of body most susceptible: ears, nose, fingers & toes.
· Treatment: Do not rub tissue: can damage cells from ice crystals. Rewarm gently. If deep frostbite, consider immersion in warm (not hot) water 25 - 40 minutes. If hot - can burn damaged skin. Thawing is complete when part is pliable and colour and sensation return. Once area has rewarmed, there can be considerable pain.
· Wrap affected area in sterile gauze and protect from movement and further cold. Treat as a tissue injury - consider hospital if significant tissue damage.
· Once a body part has been rewarmed, it cannot be used for anything until tissue begins to repair. It is essential that in not be refrozen - causes more damage. If you cannot guarantee that the tissue will stay warm, do not rewarm it.
· If person is hypothermic and frostbitten: priority is treating hypothermia. Do not rewarm frostbitten areas until core is warm.


Trench Foot

Wet feet loose heat 25x faster than dry. The body uses vasoconstriction to shut down peripheral circulation in foot to prevent heat loss. Skin tissue than can begin to die. Can also cause permanent damage to the circulatory system making person more prone to cold related injuries.

Prevention & Treatment of Trench foot:
· Keep feet dry. Water-proof boots. Check feet regularly (if wet from sweating or immersion), stop and dry feet, put on dry socks, consider plastic bag over dry socks / between wet boots - but beware of vapor barrier increasing sweat wetting foot.
· Some mountaineers will put antiperspirant with aluminum hydroxide on feet for week before trip (keep feet from sweating up to a month).
· Experiment to see if your feet sweat much.
If not, consider vapor barrier. If so, use socks that wick away sweat, and water-proof boots. · If trench foot sets in, foot is more susceptible to damage by walking on it.


Tear Gas

Tear gas (CN & CS) is a solid at room temperature, and must be heated or sprayed to reach large numbers of people. It is therefore 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 to the chemical agent.

Prevention for Tear Gas
·Don't Panic!

How To Dress

As a protester a number of simple steps can help greatly in combatting the effeciency of a chemical weapon's ability to harm you. The following are a list of general guidelines, followed by a complete list of clothing items to bring.
Cover up as much as possible to protect skin from tear gas or pepper spray exposure.
Wear clinched wrist and ankle clothing.
Avoid cotton and wool as outside layers, which are fuzzy and absorb chemicals.
Wash clothes in a non-detergent soap several times. This is because detergents enhance the effects of the chemicals on one's skin. Castille (or vegetable) soap works best and can be found at any pharmacy.
Wash yourself with castille soap before the protest.
Wear rain gear as an outer layer. This ensures maximum protection against chemicals contacting your skin. There is a trade-off here between comfort and protection.

Do Not Wear:

Piercings, jewellery, ties, or anything else that can be grabbed by the police. Some piercings may be taped over.
Contact Lenses as chemicals can get trapped between them & eyes. May cause damage.

The following is a list of clothing a protester should bring to a demo
  • Rain Pants
  • Rain Coat, Pants and Hat
  • Gloves
  • Comfortable & dry shoes, running shoes or Steel Toed Boots
  • Helmets
  • Padded Pants, or Goalie Pads for sit-downs.
  • Castille Soap
  • Sealed Goggles, Safety Glasses (swim or ski, shatter-proof if chance of plastic bullets)
  • Gas Mask, Face Filter, Respirator or Bandana soaked in apple cider venegar
  • Spare Clothes in sealed bag


What to Bring

As a protester, there are a few things one can bring to an action to ensure safety and preparation. A more complete list of medical supplies is available on the First Aid Reference page. The following is a list of general items a protester should have on their person.

  • Important Telephone Numbers (careful if arrested)
  • Energy Bars
  • Drinking Water (2 L a day)
  • Money for phones, food, taxi, etc.
  • Pad and Paper
  • Map
  • Spare Clothes in sealed bag
  • Optional Items
  • Two-Way Radio
  • Compass
  • Cell Phone
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket/Sleeping bag
  • Fanny Pack
  • Knife or Scissors (careful--cops may consider these weapons)
  • First Aid Kit


Medics Standard First Aid Kit

The portable first aid kit could mean the difference between a minor injury and a desperate situation spiraling out of control.Those items with a star are not necessary for a good first aid kit. Only bring Items you can safely and effectively use.

Items marked with a star are optional.
  • Emergency Telephone Numbers list*
  • Sterile guze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Triangular bandages
  • Adhesive bandages*
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers*
  • Safety pins
  • Ice pack
  • Latex gloves
  • Flashlight*
  • Antiseptic
  • Pencil and Pad*
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Syrup or ipecac*
  • Eye Patches*
  • Thermometer*
  • First Aid Manual


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