As “End Sars” protests continue across Nigeria, police and some thugs have deployed various weapons to disperse participants.
Tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray, flash-bang grenades, and water tankers are being employed to control crowds.
But they are sometimes used in situations where people have nowhere to run.
So protesters need to protect themselves from these weapons and the novel coronavirus by equipping themselves with essential protective equipment to prevent harm and treat common injuries.
This article will guide you on 10 important items and health measures that you will need to stay safe, and healthy during a peaceful protest.
10 things you need for a protest
Health experts suggest that if you plan to attend multiple protests, have your bag packed at all times, and restock it with essentials each night.
Nevertheless, don’t weigh yourself down, but pack the following, if available to you:
1. Face coverings
As hot as it is, it’s still important to cover your nose and mouth with a mask to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 and help protect your identity.
Also, consider bringing a few extra masks as well so that you have extras in case one gets contaminated with tear gas.
Another tip is to cover your mouth and nose with a bandana soaked in water, lemon juice, or vinegar as it can aid in breathing during chemical exposure.
2. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Hand sanitizers are very crucial during protests as they help reduce the spread of germs.
Always remember that you have to protect the health and well-being of yourself and your family members at home.
3. Basic first aid kit
Always pack a first aid kit to protect yourself and your friends in case the protests turn violent.
What you simply need is packing some pain relievers, bandages, gauze, cotton wool, spirit, and hydrogen peroxide to help clean wounds.
And your other personal medications like inhalers and eye drops.
4. Sun protection
Protecting yourself from the scorching sun will prevent you from being dehydrated, protect your skin, and keep you energized.
So make sure to bring a hat, and an umbrella to provide some shade and even protect you from rain.
You will need a fully charged cell phone to take pictures, record happenings, and update your family of your whereabouts.
Nonetheless, it is advised that you should disable your data, and put your phone on airplane mode to conceal your digital footprint.
Also, bring a portable charger or power bank to charge your phone in case your battery dies down during the protest.
6. Long sleeve shirt and pant
To protect the skin from pepper spray, toxic chemicals, or tear gas, health experts have advised that protesters wear long-sleeve shirts and pants.
However, if the skin is exposed accidentally, washing afterward and decontaminating affected parts is key when you get home.
You should wash contaminated clothes, shoes, masks, and take a warm long bath.
Also, it is important to avoid wearing make-up or lotion as it can worsen the effects of tear gas and pepper spray.
A shatterproof goggle protects your eyes from chemical irritants, rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades, and even coronavirus infection.
They can block direct contact with tear gas, pepper spray, and viruses.
However, contact lenses are greatly discouraged as they may prolong the amount of time a contaminant stays pressed against the eye.
To keep you full and prevent hunger, consider packing lightweight foods like peanuts, tiger nuts, plantain chips, protein bars, or other non-perishable foods that will sustain you until you can eat an actual meal.
9. Plenty of water
To keep you hydrated at all times, you will need to bring your water. Ideally, it should be in a large insulated bottle.
Also, you can fill up a spray bottle with water to help keep you cool.
Dogs! Funny right? But to protect you from thug brutality in Nigeria, you may need to bring along your well-trained dog for protests.
A well-trained dog will protect you and scare away assailants from getting close to you, your friends, or your personal property.
However, always keep a close eye on your dog to prevent it from attacking other genuine protesters.
- Extra items to pack are cash for expenses, menstrual pad for ladies, toilet paper, and an ID for identification.
What to do if Violence Erupts
Protests can quickly become tense situations, and if you feel a change in the mood around you, get somewhere safe immediately.
If you do find yourself in the middle of an altercation, here’s how to address the following:
- Tear gas:
Rinse your face repeatedly with bottled water. Blink as many times as you can, do not rub your face, blow your nose, rinse your mouth, and in general, try not to swallow.
Also, avoid using milk to rinse your face as it contains acid.
- Pepper spray:
If pepper spray gets in your eyes, use water as instructed above. Do not use any antacid (milk of magnesia).
But if pepper spray gets on your skin, get a bottle and pour in a mixture of half water and half milk of magnesia. Pour the mixture onto the affected skin, and it should decrease the burning sensation.
- Rubber bullets:
Although rubber might seem harmless, these bullets can cause extreme injury.
If you are hit with a rubber bullet that penetrates the skin or causes a fracture, seek medical attention immediately.
However, if the wound is not severe, sterilize it, apply an antibiotic ointment, and wrap it with gauze.
The bottom line
Fighting for your right by engaging in a peaceful protest is wonderful, but always remember to keep yourself, your friends, and your family safe by abiding by social distancing rules and wearing your protective shield.
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