The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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First in series of safety courses offered

The Department of Public Safety held a pepper spray course Thursday evening, on the second floor of the CSUN Police Department to kick off a series of safety courses designed to raise student awareness.

‘There’s a joke that you could spray it on your steak or your taco,’ said Crime Prevention Coordinator Daniel Foster, who instructed the course. ‘And you could, it’s natural. But it obviously wouldn’t taste as good as some salsa.’

The active ingredient in pepper spray is oleoresin capsicum, which is derived from chili peppers.

And using it on a taco probably wouldn’t be pleasant to any of the other four senses. During a demonstration after the lecture, one of the observers began to tear up and cough after some of the spray got caught in a breeze and traveled approximately 20 feet to her location.

‘You have to expect to get some kind of blowback,’ said Foster.

Foster began his career as a student manager for the matador patrol before training at the police academy in Whittier.

Natalie Guinto, a political science major and one of 14 people attending the course, said she makes a habit of attending self-defense courses. ‘It’s nice to be aware, especially since I’m so small,’ she said.

Kat Kessler, a junior screenwriting major, said she was attending the course along with several other students to earn a license to carry the pepper spray as a member of the Matador Patrol.

Foster warned against purchasing tiny canisters that may not carry a sufficient amount of spray, including tiny decorative key-chain canisters. There is even a ring designed to fire pepper spray, but it may not be practical for self-defense.

The maximum amount that can be legally carried is two ounces, although there are exemptions for special bear pepper sprays that may only be used in certain areas.

The course went over the legal issues involved with pepper spray, ways to properly operate the aerosol canisters and tips on which kind to purchase.

‘Beware of vendor claims,’ said Foster. ‘No product should guarantee 100 percent effectiveness.’

The most prominent of the recommendations include purchasing sprays that shoot in a stream as opposed to those that fire in a gel, a mist, or in a cone shape.

‘Wind and rain are two main environmental factors that are going to diminish the effects of the spray,’ said Foster, who added that sprays are less likely to lose their effect when used in undesirable weather conditions.

People should also keep in mind that pepper spray is not at all guaranteed to stop or even affect an attacker, even if the substance is sprayed directly into the primary target area ‘- the eyes. This is especially true if the person is intoxicated.

Foster showed a video during the course featuring a large, seemingly intoxicated man in a bar who was sprayed several times directly in the eyes by police and was never significantly affected. Eventually, five officers had to force him to the ground for apprehension.

First-hand experience is highly recommended for those who plan on carrying pepper spray, although extreme caution must be taken. Anyone accidentally sprayed should take care not rub their face or wash with soap, but flush with cool water and irrigate the eyes for half an hour.

The effects of pepper spray can last up to a week, as residue can get caught in hair or on clothes and eventually rub against the face.

To make sure a pepper-spray canister is full or close to it, which is recommended to ensure a sufficient amount in case of emergency, one can simply place the canister in a sink full of water and check its buoyancy.

Anyone concerned for his or her safety should also consider the personal safety escort service offered by the Matador Patrol, it can be reached at (818) 677-4997.

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