Photo from Unsplash.com by Sandra Seitamma

 

On May 25 2020 of an unarmed black man George Floyd was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis. This event has sparked a wave of protests in more than 1700 places in the United States alone.

Protests are a way of expressing our opinions. They are part of our first amendment rights as citizens of the United States. They draw the attention of our leaders to issues which need to be addressed so that corrective measures can be put in place.

According to a recent economic report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, there does not appear- at least currently- to be an uprise in the number of COVID-19 cases due to the protests.

 

However, given that this is an election year, I anticipate these protests are likely to continue for the near future.

With that in mind if you must go out and protest, here are some five tips to stay safe and healthy whilst out there:

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It goes without saying that with the current pandemic you want to make sure you wear a mask at all times when out in the public. Any face covering should suffice so there is no need to be out there in an N-95 mask. Please save that for our frontline healthcare professionals! I also suggest you pack an extra mask just in case your mask or face covering gets moist. Also, have an adequate supply of hand sanitizer and be sure to use this regularly especially prior to touching your face.

 

Tip number two- Protect your eyes with goggles

One of the most painful things that can happen to a protester is getting doused with pepper spray or tear gas. You do not want to get either of these noxious agents into your eyes. It’s very irritating and can transiently blind due to the intense burning irritation and eyelid spasm caused by the active ingredient capsaicinoids. Now it depends on how close you are to the stream of pepper spray, but it’s still worth wearing goggles as added protection.  Another benefit of wearing goggles especially is they are tinted is that they offer protection from UV radiation from the sun on bright days.

Tip number three- Carry a bottle of water

This serves two purposes. Staying hydrated, no doubt. But also if you do get pepper-sprayed or tear-gassed water can help to wash off some of the irritant(s). And here’s the thing if everyone has a supply of water on them it’s easier to share with those in need. I know that in some areas, local businesses are providing bottled water to protesters. Either way, carry water on you, and if you run out know where you can get more. Staying hydrated is especially important in the summer months. If you happen to be sweating a lot, it may be necessary to have electrolytes added to the water.

 

Tip number four- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen

A broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against the harmful effects of  UVA and UVB radiation from the sun. UVA radiation can cause wrinkling and aging of the skin in addition to cataracts. Whereas UVB radiation causes sunburn and damage to the skin and is also linked to the development of skin cancer.

Easy to remember UVA for Aging. UVB for Burning.

So whilst you’re outdoors at any time, be sure to wear a broadspectrum sunscreen with an SPF factor of at least 30.

SPF stands for sunprotection factor and is the length of time that it will take the skin to burn without the addition of sunscreen. So an SPF of 30 means that when properly applied it will take 30 times longer to get a sunburn

 

Remember that in order to remain effective it is important to re-apply sunscreen at least every 2 hours, particularly if you are sweating.  It’s also important to be liberal with the amount of sunscreen you apply. So be sure to carry it with you.

Now as with all products that we apply to our skin, it is important to make certain that you are applying a safe brand. Many skin care products contain chemicals that can have a bad effect on our bodies in a number of ways such as disrupting our hormones, increasing our exposure to toxins, and damaging our mitochondria, etc. For a list of the Environmental Working Group’s 2020 sunscreen guide, click here.

 

Tip number five- Partner up and be conscious of your surroundings at all times

As much as possible partner up with a group of friends. Do not go to a protest alone. That way if any problems arise you have someone or a group of people to take notice and get you much-needed assistance. Have whomever you designate as your emergency contact stored on your phone. Carry personal identification at all times. And always be conscious of your surroundings. As much as possible plan your route along with the protest and also have a planned escape route to exit the protest should there be any disruption such as a riot.

 

My final thoughts

I really wish we did not have to protest. I wish for a world where all men and women are created equal. I wish for a planet where no one is judged by the color of their skin or where they come from, their sexual preference, nor their language or accent.

I wish for a world where black people do not suffer at the hands of police even to the point where they lose their lives. I wish for all these. But until we have such a world, civil discourse, civil unrest, and public protests will remain woven into our cultural norm.

Stay safe out there,