Friday,21 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1154, (27 June - 3 July 2013)
Friday,21 September, 2018
Issue 1154, (27 June - 3 July 2013)

Ahram Weekly

Forewarned is Forearmed

Let’s talk about better living! Our new interactive family corner aims to expand our lifestyle horizons with practical little pearls of wisdom from the editor and input from our readers

Egyptians are planning to take to the streets this Sunday, 30 June, in a peaceful protest to withdraw confidence from President Mohamed Morsi on the first anniversary of his inauguration. If you’ll be taking part, be aware that tear gas and pepper spray might be used by the police to disperse crowds and subdue individuals. Don’t panic, the effects of exposure, though painful, are temporary.

As most of us have no direct experience with these chemical weapons, arming ourselves with information will prepare us for what to expect. This information and the expert tips that follow are based on research from around the world and are aimed at minimising the physical effects of these chemicals, enabling people to stay on the streets for as long as they please.

Symptoms of tear gas exposure:

• Stinging and burning of the eyes, nose, mouth and skin.

• Excessive tearing.

• Blurred vision.

• Runny nose.

• Salivation (drooling).

• Exposed tissue may develop a rash and a chemical burn.

• Coughing and difficulty breathing, including a feeling of choking.

• Disorientation and confusion, which may lead to panic.

• Intense anger.


What to do if exposed:

Only in the absence of a healthcare professional:

• Cover your face tightly with a clean, wet bandana soaked in water or vinegar to protect it.

• Minimise possible skin exposure by covering up as much as possible.

• Do not rub it in.

• If you see a gas can coming towards you or get a warning, put on protective gear; if able, try to move away or get upwind.

• If you have a mask or respirator, use it to protect your face and to reduce the effect of fumes.

• Try to stay calm. Panicking increases the irritation. Breathe slowly.

• Blow your nose, rinse your mouth, cough and spit. Try not to swallow.

• Wash the skin with lots of soap and water.

• Flush eyes with sterile saline or water until the stinging starts to abate.

• Remove clothes quickly; wash body with soap and water. Cut clothing away instead of pulling it over your head.

• Use gloves or sticks to pick up clothes and place in a sealed plastic bag for disposal.

• Use medications for treating asthma such as bronchodilators and steroids to ease breathing.

• Wash eyeglasses with soap and water before putting them back on.

• If you wear contacts, try to remove the lenses or get someone to remove them for you, with clean, uncontaminated fingers.

What to bring:

• Lots of water in plastic bottles with squirt or spray top, to drink, cool off or wash out your skin or eyes if needed.

• Heavy-duty gloves if you plan to handle hot tear gas canisters.

• Identification and/or emergency contact information.

• Just enough money for food and transportation.

• Chargeable cards for cell phones.

• Wound care supplies and bandage.

• Small tampons for nose bleeds.

• Clean shirt in plastic bag to change into if you get heavily gassed.

• Shatter-resistant eye protection: sunglasses, swim goggles or gas mask.

• A cap or hat to protect you from the sun and from chemical weapons.

• Rescue remedy: For shock and trauma.

• Energy snacks. 

• Hard candy for raising blood sugar.

• Pain relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs.

• Several days of your prescription medication and doctor’s note in case of arrest.

• Water or alcohol-based sunscreen.

• Inhaler, epinephrine insulin or other medication if you require it.


Remember, if you pack your bag too heavy, you will limit your mobility and increase your fatigue.


Try to avoid:

• Using oils, lotions, Vaseline, oil-based sunscreen or moisturisers on skin as they can trap chemicals and prolong exposure.

• Wearing contact lenses; they can trap irritating chemicals underneath.

• Wearing anything that can easily be grabbed.

• Going alone. It is best to go with some friends who know you well.

Finally, take care of yourself and remember that in life, no pain, no gain.



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