‘Operation Safe Summer:’ Expert shows proper pepper spray protection

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BURIEN — When it comes to less-lethal options to protect yourself with — pepper spray is number one.

For this installment of “Operation Safe Summer” I talked to an expert to see what he recommends as the best options you should be spraying the bad guys with.

Bob Bragg has taught at the Basic Law Enforcement Academy in Burien for 35 years and when it comes to pepper spray he knows his stuff. “There are a variety of different spray patterns like foggers, streams, mists, foam and gel. Each one of those has a specific strength and, of course, weaknesses,” Bragg explains.

He says that if you choose to carry pepper spray you should practice using it. “Number one, spray it and make sure that it actually works. There are times when you have defective products just like bullets, cars, anything else,” says Bragg.

Then make sure you use it in the proper space. Bragg continues, “Make sure you understand how it works. Because there are a variety of different spray patterns, each one of those serves a different purpose.” For instance, a fogger may not be the best option for inside the home, but it does come with a bonus for the outdoors. For animals, dogs and so on it makes a lot of noise and the noise itself tends to scare the animals away,” Bragg says.

Then there's the foam spray which isn’t recommended for most self -defense scenarios, but it is the only option for certain spaces. “Places like emergency rooms and other places where you do not want any atomization of the O.C. that would be a problem.” Bragg says it’s important to know the effects of pepper spray are not immediate. It can take up to 30 seconds for someone who’s been pepper sprayed to react.

Bragg also has another warning, “I would caution against folks who carry the keychain version because those are so small as to be absolutely useless, maybe worse than useless because they depend upon something that won’t work.”

What does work is buying pepper spray that has at least 10% oleo-resin capsicum (O.C.) that’s the overall pepper content. Anything less than that would be ineffective.

And check the nozzle. The bigger it is the more area you can cover.

Bragg adds, "Bear spray is basically O.C. spray in a bigger can and that’s a great thing to carry on a hike not just because of bears but unfortunately there are bad guys out in the wilderness who will attack you there.”

But for inside use, the rules are different. “For home and in home use, I recommend something like the 4 ounce can or a bigger 7 ounce can if it’s something by your door.”

And finally, make sure it’s in a place you can get to in a hurry. Bragg says, “I think the biggest thing to remember is pepper spray like firearms or any other kind of weapon is in fact a weapon which means you have to be able to access it for it to be of use or value and many folks don’t think about that ahead of time.”