Tear Gas and Pepper Spray exposure

Encourage the victim to cough and spit. In the case of pepper spray, NEVER USE WATER to clean the victim’s face and/or skin.

LAW is a common solution and stands for Liquid Antacid and Water. It consists of a 1:1 ratio of Maalox (an over-the-counter antacid) and water. (In a pinch, two or three Rennie’s tablets well-dissolved in a bottle of water will also work.) If neither can be obtained, milk is also used. In any case, with pepper spray, ask the victim to lie down and gently pour the LAW or milk over the victim’s face and encourage them to blink. If using a squirt bottle, never squirt directly into their eyes, no matter how gently you think you’re squeezing. Also give the victim some LAW/milk to swirl in their mouths and spit out. Do not let their lips touch the bottle itself, or you will contaminate it.

It is essential to shower and wash or discard your clothes as soon as you are able. Pepper spray is toxic, and will continually contaminate you and everyone around you until you get rid of it. Until then, DON’T touch your eyes, nose, mouth, face, other people, furniture, carpets, pets, etc. to avoid further contamination.

Emergency Contact Numbers

In South Africa, there are several private companies that work alongside the national emergency medical services.

The national emergency medical services number is

10 177

Listed below are the contact details for the private agencies. Please keep in mind that some may charge a fee.

  • ER24 – 084 124
  • Netcare 911 – 082 911
  • Emer-G-Med – 086 100 7911


Even if you don’t have professional medical training, you can still help! Here are some resources that provide some very useful information.

Please remember, though, that no amount of reading will make you a doctor, if you come across an injury that you don’t know how to treat, or are unsure, contact the local emergency medical services. In South Africa, the national number is 10177.

An Activist’s Guide to Basic First Aid – Printable pamphlet

How to be a Street Medic

How to Document Injuries

What to Bring