DeRay Mckesson has been at the forefront of Black Lives Matter since it formed in 2013, and frequently makes media appearances on behalf of the movement. Currently, McKesson is campaigning to become the mayor of Baltimore, the site of many Black Lives Matter demonstrations following the death of Freddie Gray.

Asked by a Quora user about how it feels to get tear-gassed, Mckesson wrote:

It feels like an intense menthol covering your face and neck and other exposed skin. It also sticks to your clothes. It's also thick and you can't see it once it dissolves in the air and it just hits you. When it first is released into the air, it's the thickest and that's when it's the hardest to just continue through. But after a while, it dissolves a bit and you can trudge through it.

After being teargassed a few times, many of us became able to manage the impact on the body well enough—but it is wild that we even had to learn that skill.

Anti-militarism activist group War Resisters League advises that anyone with chronic conditions, especially respiratory ones, should be extremely careful if they're in an environment where tear gas might be used.

If you're ever exposed to tear gas, you should try to treat it as quickly as possible. According to the League, you should:

  • Stay calm. Panicking increases the irritation. Breathe slowly. 
  • If you see it coming or get a warning, put on protective gear, if able, try to move away or get upwind.
  • Blow your nose, rinse your mouth, cough and spit. Try not to swallow.
  • If you wear contacts, try to remove the lenses or get someone to remove them for you, with CLEAN, uncontaminated fingers.
  • Do not rub it in.