brown bear with blue eyes

How Bear Spray Can Save Your Life

3 minutes

How to Use Bear Spray

If you have ever cooked with a hot chili and touched your face or your eyes, you probably quickly found yourself in severe pain with burning sensations wherever your hands made contact. This is how bear spray works. Bear spray contains capsaicinoids, which are the compounds in peppers that give them their spiciness. The capsaicinoids are mixed with an oily base product and an aerosol propellant, which ejects the spray at the charging bear. Bear spray can play a significant role in protecting hikers and campers from a bear attack, so knowing how to use your spray could save your life. However, do not let bear spray be a deterrent from having a cautious attitude towards bears!

Carry Your Bear Spray Where It Can Be Easily Reached

What good is bear spray if it’s lying at the bottom of your backpack? If you see a bear, rummaging through your bag to find the tiny canister will be a worthless move. Carry the bear spray where you can easily and quickly reach it. When buying bear spray, look for one that comes with a holster or has a holster that goes with it. Buying one that can clip on to your backpack would also work.

Best Spray Specifications

In the 1990s, Dr. Charles Jonkel conducted the only formal study on bear repellant. Participants said that the minimum spray distance should be 25 feet. They also recommended that the minimum spray duration be six seconds. These specifications produce the widest barrier between you and a charging bear. Therefore, for the sprays that will keep you safest, you should look for bear sprays that can spray at least 25 feet and for at least six seconds.

When to Spray

If a bear begins to charge you, use the spray immediately. If you suddenly find yourself in close proximity to a bear, spray at the front of the bear until it stops its charge or tries to make contact.

How to Spray

To use your bear spray, remove it from it’s holster, disconnect the safety, and spray. Keep your arm extended, so the spray is shooting as far away from you as possible; you don’t want to injure yourself, too! Hold your arm steady, but move the spray from side to side; this helps the cloud to expand, ensuring the bear will run through it. Try to aim between the bear’s eyes.

If the Bear Does Not Stop

Sometimes the spray will not take affect quickly enough, and the bear may try to make contact. If the bear is a grizzly, play dead. To do this effectively, lie flat on your stomach, protecting your neck with your hands; keep your backpack on, as this gives added protection. If it is a black bear, you will need to fight aggressively with any weapon you can get your hands on. Look for rocks or large sticks you can quickly grab; if there’s nothing, fight with your fists. With both types of bears, the spray should take affect soon and reduce the length of attack.

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