It’s pink. It’s on Mommy’s keyring, so it must be safe. It has a little button; “I think I’ll press it and see what happens.” What happens next is—at best—a fright-filled trip to the nearest hospital’s ER. At worst, the child succumbs, in a paroxysm of unstoppable coughing. “It” is a small tube of pepper spray, packaged in pink so women will think of it as innocuous, therefore fit to keep in a purse.
I thought of such a tragic scenario when my daughter mentioned at dinner how her three year old had gotten into her purse and had a grand time rummaging through everything from keys to cosmetics. My mind made a connection to the hazards of Pepper Spray because my other daughter, Holly, and I had recently conducted a series of tests of various brands for a woman’s self defense article.
Even though Holly was wearing a protective mask, she still went running into the house to escape a whiff of pepper spray that came drifting back during one test. And that was just a trace amount. A strong dose causes immense pain to the eyes, nose, and throat. So the idea of a child accidently getting a dose of an ultra-hot Cayenne pepper mixture within inches of the face impelled me to draw attention to this hidden danger.
Pepper spray, frequently referred to under the name of a popular brand, mace, is one of the mainstays of women’s self defense products. It’s cheap $10–20), small (some not much larger than lipstick) and fairly widely available in auto supply stores such as Auto Zone, runners shops, gun shops etc. Many buy it on the Internet.
So, assuming you have an inquisitive and exploring toddler, what are you going to do about the pepper spray in the purse problem?
First, admonitions to the child about not getting into Mommy’s purse are not going to work. A toddler’s curiosity is compelling; it usually carries the day. So just don’t carry your mace in your purse; the risk is too great.
Carrying your pepper spray in a holster or pouch attached to your belt is an option to consider. Yes, it may be an annoyance; you have to wear a belt in the first place. Only you can make that judgment. If you do decide to give that a try, go to Amazon.com and type in the search terms “mace” and “holster.” That will get you both mace products and some others. I recommend the mace brand simply because it’s a known quality in a field where you might not be familiar with the others.
Lastly, if you do carry pepper spray, never buy it in a pink container!