Well, there’s nothing you could’ve done. You were there, raising your fist and banging your pot, but things took a turn for the worse and, next thing you know, you’re in the middle of a tear gas cloud. Don’t worry—it happens.
Even though most people report mostly manageable levels of pain and irritation, tear gas exposure can be a real problem for vulnerable people (children, the elderly, and pregnant women) and those with asthma or any sort of respiratory condition.
“Children are worse off because their lungs are much smaller, so the surface-to-volume ratio is very different from adults. They're more at risk when they inhale it,” Jordt says.
Just as airplane safety videos have taught us, keep calm and secure your mask—or bandana, in this case—before helping others. Once you have your goggles on and your airways are covered, look around you and see if there’s anybody you can help.
If you see somebody either lying or sitting down or, it’s imperative to move them to a clean and ventilated area. CS powder is heavy, so once it’s aerosolized and propelled out of its canister, it will fall and settle—the closer to the ground, the higher the concentration of gas.
Once everybody who needs help has been dealt with, your top priority will be to move away from the tear gas cloud. Your first instinct will be to run, but fight against it—running will get you agitated, and before you know it, you’ll be taking in big gulps of air, filling your lungs with more tear gas, even if you’re wearing a mask. Move quickly, but make sure to keep your breathing even.