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What to Do If You’re Sprayed with Pepper Spray During a Robbery

On April 2, in a jewelry retail store in Phoenix, a sales associate was having trouble processing a credit card transaction for two female clients purchasing several pieces of jewelry. The card wouldn’t go through, and before she was able to hand it back to the client, one of the two shoppers vigorously sprayed her and a nearby colleague in the face with pepper spray. The robbers grabbed the jewelry and the credit card, ran out of the store, and fled the wider scene.

 

At press time, the two criminals have yet to be apprehended (see the security footage of the women below and contact the Jewelers Security Alliance if you have any information about the crime: 212-687-0328; [email protected]).

 

The two suspects in the Arizona pepper spray robbery (courtesy JSA)

While all jewelry store robberies are terrifying, getting sprayed with pepper spray or any type of aerosol formulated to instantly incapacitate adds severe discomfort (okay, yowling pain) and confusion to any already scary situation.

 

Getting a face-full of pepper spray, a “lacrimator” that stimulates the eyes to produce tears with the active ingredient capsaicin (the same chemical that adds heat to chili peppers), blinds you instantly, but temporarily. When the solution hits your eyes, they close in response to instant acute pain and then swim in an unstoppable flow of tears for several minutes, or and even hours.

 

And for some, getting sprayed can also result in gasping for air, dizziness, chest pain, throat burning and a dry, wheezing cough, according to Medical News Today.

 

You can’t predict if and when a criminal might pull out a can of pepper spray on you or an associate, but you can educate yourself and your staff on how to care for a co-worker who’s been assaulted moments after it happens. Here’s a care checklist—we hope you never have to use it!

 

  1. There’s no immediate cure for a pepper spray strike (no magic wash or solution), but most cases resolve themselves within roughly 45 minutes.
  2. Flush your face and eye with water several times, but don’t use soap, which can be irritating.
  3. Remove clothes that were possibly sprayed and wrap them up in a bag (for later washing) or throw them outside/away.
  4. Move into fresh air to get a clean breeze flowing into your eyes.
  5. Blink repeatedly to help flush out the spray.
  6. Don’t shower right away (you can wash the oil-based spray down to parts of the body that will not like it).
  7. If someone who’s been sprayed loses consciousness, has difficulty breathing, or is experiencing chest pain, call 911 immediately.

 

 

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