How to deal with tear gas

It is riot season again.

Here is some advice on how to keep yourself and your buddies safe should you happen to find yourself in the middle of a riot.

If you’re going to a protest where tear gas (or pepper spray) may be used, these are the street medic recommendations:


Prevention is far better than cure!

  • Do not wear contact lenses if you may get gassed or pepper sprayed as they will trap the chemicals against your eyes causing much worse damage.
  • Do not wear oil based skin products (ie clown make-up or sunscreen) as they will also trap the chemicals against your skin, again worsening damage.


Well fitting swimming goggles will protect the eyes and ensure you can still see.  You can get prescription swimming goggles if you usually wear glasses/contact lenses.


Next a well fitting FFP3 dust-mask will give you plenty of time to exit the gas cloud (should you wish to).

Follow the instructions on the packet to ensure you put it on correctly, or it will not work.

It must be discarded after use if heavily contaminated.

You can buy these online (search “fold flat FFP3) for example:

Ultimate UCF-P3V FFP3 Box 10 Masks







They won’t give you as long as a gas mask or quite as much protection, but are much less likely to get you arrested!

They fold flat and can just hang round your neck with the goggles hidden under a scarf.  They are cheaper to buy and much, much quicker to put on than a gas mask.


If you have been tear gassed

If you have been tear gassed (or pepper sprayed) whilst unprotected the following remedy will massively improve eye symptoms:

This is called Liquid Antacid and Water (LAW)

Wash your hands

In a clean bottle mix half and half

  • Clean water and
  • Mint Maalox or Milk of Magnesia (antacids- you can buy these in any pharmacy)

Make fresh LAW each day.


Procedure for using LAW on the streets:

  • Don’t touch the gassed person as they can’t see and that could scare them.
  • Tell the person who you are and that you can help.
  • First ask the person to remove any contact lenses and to stay calm.
  • Use LAW as an eye wash- repeat as necessary according to symptoms.


Your LAW will go much further if you can get hold of a clean spray bottle like this:

Spray bottle


Spray LAW at the affected person’s eyes while they blink repeatedly.  Again, repeat as necessary.


LAW can be used on the skin for pepper spray, but be sure to dab it off rather than spread it around further.

You can also use alcohol based wet-wipes to remove pepper spray from the skin- again make sure not to spread it further.


Contaminated Clothing

If you have been tear-gassed your clothes will be contaminated.

If you go into an enclosed space wearing them the gas residue will vaporise and everyone will start to suffer the symptoms again.

Always leave contaminated clothes outside, or seal them very tightly in a plastic bag.


If you can, wear a waterproof top layer which can just be hosed down (with you wearing it if necessary!) to remove gas residue.

This will also provide you with protection if water cannon are being used.


Stay safe on the streets!

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