BY KAREN CAFFARINI Post-Tribune correspondent May 15, 2014 10:44AM
Caroline Olah explains the benefits of the Little Viper, a pepper spray, self-defense bracelet, during an appearance on the Steve Harvey show. | Supplied photo
Updated: May 16, 2014 2:05AM
LAKES OF THE FOUR SEASONS — Caroline Olah has put fashion and function into self-defense.
Olah, a Lakes of the Four Seasons resident, designed and developed a lightweight silicone bracelet that contains three to six bursts of pepper spray, is easy to use and access, and is inexpensive ($19.99 per bracelet) and fashionable so young people won’t mind wearing them.
Her inspiration for the product came from her own experience with her two teenage daughters, Olah said. She took the name from her knowledge of vipers, which are snakes that spit venom and protect their young, she said.
“I always gave each of my daughters a can of pepper spray every time I’d drop them off at the mall or when they’d go out with friends. They’d put it in their sweatshirt or backpack. I thought, ‘If they’re caught off guard, how are they going to get it out?’ ” Olah said.
She brainstormed and drew up a bracelet that she believed would work. She then worked on the design with a CAD operator and researched manufacturer after manufacturer before finding one.
“I knew I wanted the bracelet to be silicone because it works well with joggers. I wanted it to be more fashionable, too,” Olah said.
The adjustable bracelet fits most size wrists and comes in pink or black. Olah, 41, said the bracelets would be good for almost any age but said it would be up to parents’ discretion whether to give one to a young child.
“If you think a child is mature enough to handle it, it would be OK,” she said.
She said she tested the product over and over again and it doesn’t matter which way one puts the bracelet on, or if it turns to inside the wrist, one can’t accidentally spray herself.
And unlike vipers spitting their poisonous venom, the bracelet’s pepper spray will cause choking, coughing and an intense burning sensation that is designed to affect an attacker long enough to run away, but it won’t kill the attacker.
Olah said the product was launched in July. She said it’s made overseas, but Olah, her husband Jason and daughters Claire, 16, and Grace, 12, put them together in their home.
The bracelet is catching on. Olah was featured with other inventors and their products on a segment of the Steve Harvey TV show that was taped in March and aired April 7.
The Little Viper can be bought online at littleviper.com and locally at Phillips Ace Hardware, 3100 Calumet Ave., Valparaiso.
“They’re selling pretty well here. I had some people looking at them today,” Keri Miller, marketing manager at Phillips Ace, said one recent day.
She said the store tries to sell items made and developed by local residents. The Little Vipers are near the registers with other pepper spray and self-defense items, Miller said.
Olah said she is scaling back on her work as a career consultant to work more on her first invention. She would like to create a leather version and is trying to get more of a presence in the retail market.
“That could take awhile,” she said.