How to Survive Tear Gas When Caught in a Riot


( – All 50 states in America, and many other countries around the world, have participated in the protest following George Floyd’s death. Unfortunately, while many are trying to peacefully protest, riots have broken out in some areas. A riot can really start at any time and anywhere, so you need to be prepared.

When a riot breaks out, police are likely to intervene — which means there will be crowd dispersal tactics employed. One of the main tools used to disperse a crowd is tear gas. What exactly is it?

Tear gas, or CS gas, is actually a crystalline powder that is released by a tiny explosion inside the canister. The active part of tear gas, 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile, targets receptors in our bodies known as TRPA1, which essentially sends pain signals to our nervous system.

The gas attaches to any kind of moisture — including the grease in your hair, sweat, eyes, mouth, and throat. It causes serious inflammation and sometimes can even cause disorientation. What can you do if you’re hit with tear gas?

Be Prepared

As is the case with most situations, being prepared is one of the best things you can do. If you find yourself caught in a developing riot, there is a possibility that you’re going to be hit with tear gas. Take the necessary precautions and steps to ensure you‘ll be safe if and when you see those canisters.

To begin, cover your eyes. If you have them, wear goggles, a mask or face covering. Goggles work best to keep the chemical from reaching your eyes, but, if you don’t have any, sunglasses are better than nothing. Use a bandana, shirt, or some form of face-covering to avoid breathing the CS gas in. This will greatly reduce the amount of pain you’re going to experience.

Cover as much of your skin as possible to avoid the chemical from attaching to your sweat. If you have water with you, use it to wash off your face.

Being Exposed

If you do find yourself being exposed to tear gas, don’t panic. This may seem hard to do, but you’ll regret trying to run as fast as you can out of the cloud of gas. The heavier you breathe the more the gas will affect you.

You could always kick the can, but this is dangerous for a couple of reasons. One being that those canisters become very hot and you can get burned easily. Two being you have no idea where that canister is going to go after you kick it. You could easily injure yourself or someone else.

The gas particles are heavier than air. This means the concentration of gas will be higher closer to the ground. Higher concentrations mean higher exposure. Stay off the ground and move quickly — but keep your breathing steady.


After you’ve moved to safety, the gas particles are still going to be present on your clothes and skin. Although there are a number of “home remedies” to help ease the symptoms, there’s really only one that works.

Baking soda and water at a ratio of three teaspoons of powder to 8.5 ounces of water.

Baking soda accelerates the process in which CS particles become unstable and break apart. This causes the symptoms inflicted by the gas to disappear faster. Milk is also used at protests because it’s on the same side of the ph scale as baking soda.

Once you have gotten out of the riot, you’re going to want to go home and get some rest. You’ll need to clean yourself off ASAP. Taking your shoes and clothes off outside is ideal. Be sure to hang your clothes in a well-ventilated area for at least 48 hours before washing the clothes by themselves multiple times. The gas particles can last up to five days after exposure, so be sure your clothes are clean before wearing them again.

Shower for at least 20 minutes. Unfortunately, it needs to be a cold one. This will help neutralize the gas particles and prevent further irritation. You’ll likely need a few showers to shake that gas smell, but the first shower will at least make the inflammation lower and more manageable.

Dealing with the aftermath of tear gas is a process. However, it’s better to do it right the first time than to unnecessarily prolong your exposure to it by being impatient.

Have you ever witnessed a riot firsthand? Reply to your email and let us know, we would love to hear from you!

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