The Inertia Smartass
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If you run across a jogger with a sprained knee, it is not proper procedure to piss on them.

If you run across a jogger with a sprained knee, it is not proper procedure to piss on them.


The Inertia

Having been a lifeguard on and off for fifteen years, I’ve dealt with my share of emergencies. As a result, I know the importance of always having a stocked and available first aid kit. And any self respecting lifeguard will tell you that no first aid kit is complete without a clear head and a full bladder.  In fact, if those are the only two things you’ve got, urine a pretty good spot.

No joke, urine is surprisingly one of the most versatile and effective tools for the first responder. First of all, it’s sterile. And unlike gauze, tape, cold packs, hot packs, splints, or latex gloves, even on the busiest of days, it’s pretty rare to be completely out of urine. Even if you are, odds are someone close by has some in the tank you can siphon. Granted, accessing it under pressure, at a decent pressure, in public, during an emergency takes training. Honestly that’s the hardest part of being a lifeguard; urinating under pressure on injured patrons in front of captive crowds.

Below are some common beach first aid scenarios that urine can mitigate, and the several that it can’t. WARNING: This is NOT an exhaustive list.

Jellyfish Stings:
We’ve all heard this old wive’s tale. But does urinating on a jelly fish sting actually help? Absolutely. But not necessarily in the way you’d imagine. It has little to do with the type of jelly fish, water temperature, pH, salt content, viscosity and all those miscellaneous physical and chemical variables. The real mechanism of action at play when micturating on jelly fish stings is the emotional toll it takes to be pissed on in public while the victim is already in agony and in dire need of help. The disgrace, shock and disappointment are so severe they often mask the physical pain of the jelly fish’s tentacles altogether. Shame hurts worse than venom. This “kick ‘em when they’re down” approach has positive long term side effects as well. It helps the victim realize that they have a much higher capacity for suffering than they ever gave themselves credit for. Shattering that personal barrier is an invaluable experience that provides a new metric by which the victim can measure their future suffering. Hitting a “new low” if you will (and I think you will) helps the victim to appreciate the good times even more by contrast.

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Sting Ray Stabbings:
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of being stung by a sting ray, you know the inimitable and extraordinary pain of that nerve end eating toxin. Soaking the sting wound in the hottest water the victim can stand helps to neutralize the intensity of the toxin. However, access to a large quantity of hot water is rarely feasible on the beach. So filling a container with urine and submerging the victim’s wounded extremity suffices nicely. Also, you can just pee on them anywhere as long as there’s a good crowd, and it works the same as it does with treating the jelly fish sting. Whether to submerge topically or administer a shame bath is entirely is up to the lifeguard’s discretion.

Sun Burn:
Urinating on sun burns is hit or miss. It depends on the location and severity of the burn, and the size of the crowd. Also, contrary to popular opinion, urinating does nothing to prevent sun burn.

Dislocations and Sprains:
Unfortunately, urinating is ineffective at treating standard joint dislocations or sprains. I’m not sure what the scientific reason is for this one, nor is the scientific community at large. It’s just one of those head scratchers. That being said, I’ve seen it work handful of times, but when it doesn’t, it’s just a terribly disrespectful and awkward situation.

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Dehydration:
Urinating is completely ineffective at treating dehydration. In fact, it’s just plain rude to pee on someone who is very thirsty.

Minor Cuts and Abrasions:
Ineffective for pain, but because urine is sterile, it’s great for rinsing sand and other organic matter out of the wound.

Major Abrasions, Punctures and Lacerations:
In this scenario, timing is everything. Unfortunately the sheer amount of blood loss typically causes too drastic a drop in the lucidity needed for the victim to properly appreciate the humiliation of being pissed on. However, if it is done immediately so that the victim is still coherent, it can have some effect. Again, still good for rinsing and cleaning the wound.

Hypothermia:
Urinating is very effective at treating hypothermia. Ideally, you want to have as many male first responders as you can dousing the victim simultaneously. This will raise their body temperature back up to a safe zone before transporting them from the beach. If they have any access to their own pee, they should be encouraged to let ‘er rip, too.

Hyperthermia:
Urinating has contradictory effects on hyperthermia, so I typically advise against it. There just haven’t been enough peer reviewed studies. Yet. But some anecdotal research does suggest that a hot pee bath on a hyperthermic individual can work in a homeopathic way–like cures like.

Muscle Cramp:
Ineffective unless delivered at a very high pressure as to massage the cramp out. You need a supremely relaxed, confident and full bladdered male first responder for this to be of any help. Usually, I just like to advise that the cramped patron eat a banana and drink some coconut water.

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Drowning:
Ineffective. You can get into a lot of trouble for peeing on a drowning person. Believe me.

If there’s a point to be made here (which there unquestionably is not), it’s that when in doubt, whip it out and urinate all over it. At the very least, you’ll be peeing, which is a natural thing to do, and is very healthy for you.  Studies have shown that the happiest, healthiest people on earth whiz regularly.

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