Last week I reported on Randy Smith’s neighborhood watch tips for crime prevention.
But sharing one tip, that of using wasp spray instead of pepper spray as a personal protection device, resulted in me receiving an e-mail from David Nance, vice president of Security Equipment Corporation in Fenton, Mo.
Mr. Nance writes:
"Two major problems with wasp spray:
"1. ZERO proof exists that it would be effective in deterring humans. No testing has been conducted.
"2. It’s a registered pesticide with the EPA and using in self defense is a violation of federal law as stated on the canister.
"Here are the benefits of pepper spray:
"1. Will spray across the room allowing protection at a safe distance.
"2. Proven Effective! Used by 40,000 law enforcement agencies across the country and in use for over 20 Years!
"3. Legal to carry in all 50 states
"This wasp spray suggestion is a myth which could cause one of your readers to become seriously injured. You may also wish to contact wasp spray manufacturers for their opinion on the matter. We contacted eight companies and not one of them would recommend and all urged against using wasp spray for self defense. We appreciate your concern for the safety of your readers and urge you to inform them the truth."
Since I am always on the lookout for urban legends, I went to the online authority on modern myth, snopes.com, and typed in wasp spray protection.
I found the exact story that Smith, who is the Criminal Justice instructor and program coordinator at Barton Community College, used to illustrate the benefits of wasp spray.
Snopes did not go so far as to rate this a myth, but pointed out what detractors have said. Wasp spray was not formulated to be used on humans. So, it could be far more (or less) harmful than intended.
The primary benefit to wasp spray over pepper spray is that it can shoot across a room with great accuracy, but there are brands of pepper spray that can do the same thing.
There is a federal law that prohibits using products in ways they aren’t intended to be used. (That’s why I maintain we did not need a law prohibiting bath salts or potpourri, which were actually being purchased because of their marijuana-like effect when ingested.)
It might not be a good idea to treat human home invaders like wasps, but if you don’t have pepper spray or a nice legal firearm, I’d say go for it.
One thing that could have an effect on crime is a good neighborhood watch group.
The Citizens Watchdog Association meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the Rosewood Gallery, 1607 Main.
The April 21 speaker will be Judge Mike Keeley, explaining Kansas sentencing guidelines.
(Susan Thacker is a reporter for the Great Bend Tribune. Contact her by calling 792-1211 or e-mail email@example.com.)