The Doctors: Pepper Spray Safety, Dangers & Victims


The Doctors: Pepper Spray Abuse

The Doctors watched a video of police officers pepper spraying a student protest at UC Davis in California, and an elderly woman who was pepper sprayed in Seattle, Washington. Over the holidays, a woman pepper sprayed fellow shoppers in the melee at a big box store.

UC Davis Student David Buscho: Pepper Spray Victim

The Doctors: Pepper Spray Victim

The Doctors talked to a pepper spray victim to learn what it feels like.


David Buscho, a UC Davis student who was pepper sprayed in the incident there, joined The Doctors by phone. Dr. Travis Stork asked David Buscho what it was like to be pepper sprayed.

“It really was the most painful experience of my life. Within five seconds, I was in a completely different world of shocking pain,” David Buscho said. “It felt like hot shards of glass were just pouring over my eyes. Your instinctual reflex is to open your eyes, but there was so much pepper spray on my face that every time I did, more was getting in there and the pain was getting more intense.

“It took about 45 minutes before I could even open my eyes. Every time I inhaled, more pepper spray was going down my lungs. I was nauseous, I was coughing up blood, I was vomiting. It was really the worst experience of my life,” David Buscho said.


Dr. Travis Stork: How Pepper Spray Works

Dr. Travis Stork said pepper spray victims often complain that it feels like their body is on fire. He showed an animation of what happens when a person is pepper sprayed. Chili peppers are the active ingredient, and capsacin shocks the nerves, just like when you eat hot peppers.

Pepper spray is super concentrated capsacin. Closing your eyes can help you protect your eyes, which will probably dilate and become red. Breathing in pepper spray can cause inflammation to airways and difficulty breathing. These consequences are what make it such an effective weapon.

Dr. Jim Sears said people who have experienced both weapons said they would rather be Tasered multiple times than pepper sprayed even once.

The Doctors: Sabre Red Pepper Spray

Pepper spray expert David Nance of Sabre Red said extensive testing is done to ensure the safety of pepper spray. He recommended that people who carry pepper spray for self-defense choose a reputable product and understand how to use it.

David Nance recommended deploying pepper spray with your thumb, so you maintain your grip on the canister and your attacker doesn’t take it from you. It is also important to know how to arm and disarm your pepper spray, as well as where to spray it.

David Nance said that aiming for the ocular area of the face is best, because it is sensitive and causes involuntary eye closures, which gives you an opportunity to escape.

What To Do If You Get Pepper Sprayed

Getting away from the area and rinsing your eyes with water are the best things to do if you are accidentally sprayed. This gets you away from the fumes.



  1. Mary Sweeney says

    I watched the segment which included the video of the California students and heard Mr. Nance explain exactly what to do against an “attacker”. I was astonished that no one addressed the elephant in the room: there was NO “attacker” in the student video – zero attacker. This in my mind should have been clearly labeled as an inappropriate and possibly illegal use of the product.

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