Back in the 1990’s, the introduction of bear spray for protection was a great innovation for outdoors enthusiasts and those that worked in the bush. It gave a sense of protection from bears to my co-workers at forestry that often had to go out into isolated areas alone to do their jobs. Fortunately I never had to use it, and I don’t recall any of my workmates having to use it on a bear either, however I do remember one event where one of my fellow employees did spray the cayenne-based spray.
I usually biked to work, but one day, for some reason, I drove. Just a kilometer or so from our house, I saw a neighbor, who also worked at Forestry, pushing his bike down the road. I assumed that his bike must have broken, so I slowed as I approached him, rolled down the window, and asked him if he wanted a ride into work.
I noticed that there was something wrong with his face as he answered, “No, I will be alright in a minute.”
Then I heard the story:
Dave has just left his house, riding his bike to work. As he peddled, he noticed that his can of bear spray was working its way out of his pannier, or bike bag. He reached back with one hand to push the bear spray back deeper into the bag, but while doing that he accidentally triggered it and spray shot up toward his face, burning his eyes, so he had to stop, get off of his bike, and just walk the bike until he was well enough to continue riding it.
I have never encountered the spray, but many times while cutting hot peppers, I had accidentally rubbed my eyes, and suffered the intense burning the chilis caused. I imagine bear spray would be a whole lot worse.
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