Cedar Valley Outfitters mace display.

The recent murders of two Iowa college students are putting a renewed focus on safety and boosting sales for some businesses that sell self defense products.

Twenty-two-year-old Celia Barquin Arozamena was killed on September 17 while playing golf in Ames. She was allegedly attacked by a homeless man living in a wooded area near the golf course. Another man is charged in the killing of 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts while she was jogging in her hometown of Brooklyn this summer.

Ernie Traugh is the owner of Cedar Valley Outfitters, a gun shop in Marion. He told KCRG-TV that over the last few weeks the most popular item he has seen parents buying is Mace, usually for their daughters.

“They’re going that route because they see it as a non-lethal thing that can be carried more places or less restrictions about it,” Traugh said. Other women have been buying self-defense keychains, knives, or guns at Traugh’s store. According to Traugh, one problem with pepper spray is not everyone knows how it works and how to use it.

“It’s better than nothing, but what I worry about is people not understanding how to use it…how effective it is and when it’s not effective,” Traugh told KCRG-TV. When sprayed into an attacker’s face, pepper spray can be very effective in allowing a person enough time to get away. But, Traugh warns Mace users to be careful not to spray it on themselves.

Pepper spray can cause burning, intense eye pain, blindness, or a feeling of suffocation if inhaled.