Police forces that use tear gas wear gas masks to avoid harming themselves, but there are also some low-tech forms of protection. Wearing swimming goggles can protect the eyes, and a damp cloth soaked in a compound like urea can protect the lungs, de Bretton-Gordon said.
Rubber bullets Rubber bullets are usually made with a heavy type of plastic or rubber, and are about half an inch to 1 inch (1.3 centimeters to 2.5 centimeters) thick, and about 2 inches (5 cm) long, with a blunt end, de Bretton-Gordon said. The bullets are often used for animal control, but police also occasionally use them to manage protests.
Rubber bullets can cause a lot of pain and can sometimes penetrate the skin, but serious injury is more common when the bullets are fired from a range closer than 65 feet (20 meters), according to a report by Dr. Timothy Hardcastle, deputy director of trauma service at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in South Africa.
Normally, police forces aim low when firing rubber bullets at a crowd, to knock people over rather than cause serious harm. The bullets are also fired at a lower speed than regular ammunition. However, a stray bullet that hits someone in the head or face can be fatal in some extreme cases, de Bretton-Gordon said.