Dangerous makeshift swimming pool on apartment balcony is a recipe for disaster

Let’s say the balcony holds, how do you empty the water?


Certainly would be an interesting place to be in earthquake.

Jesus H…

Third, at least.

In the full photograph there appears to be (at least) one below it. Something to slow its fall, I guess…

The Berkley collapse was complicated by the fact that the balconies were improperly built and falling apart.

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People don’t know basic physics. Also thinking in imperial units makes it way harder.

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Worse than using one system of measurements or another is converting between them. Witness the Gimli Glider or the Mars Climate Orbiter.


of course much of this depends on how the balcony is built. If they use the same steel girders as the floor support, the weight of the building may effectively cantilever the deck…

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I am reminded of this passage from Neal Stephenson’s The System of the World:

Buildings on London Bridge tended to be made by trial and error. Starting with a scheme that was more or less sane, in the broad sense that it had not fallen down yet, proprietors would enlarge their holdings by reaching out over the water with cantilevered add-ons, buttressed with diagonal braces. This was the trial phase. In the next, or error phase, the additions would topple into the Thames and wash up days later in Flanders, sometimes with furniture and dead people in them. Those that did not fall into the river were occupied, and eventually used to support further enhancements. Countless such iterations, spread thick over centuries, had made the Bridge as built-up as the laws of God and the ingenuity of Man would allow.



Balconies usually have a rainwater gutter to allow rain water to leave the balcony in a controlled manner instead of simply overflowing. This would work here, too, it’d just take a while.


For a moment here I thought there was a scene I missed in LOTR.

Legolas counted his strides. “Alas, this place is empty.” Gimli shook his head. “Nay, you are using elven strides. But Bojak was of the old lineage of Western dwarfs, where one stride means 15 feet - 7 for the feet of men, 5 for the feet of dwarfs and 3 for the elves. But back then dwarves were bigger, so it’s more like 7 for the feet of men, 6 for the feet of dwarves today and 3 for elves. It’s really a simple system, kind of like hobbit weights, where a barrel of breakfast ale is half the volume of a barrel of dinner ales, because no one should drink more than two cups of ale for a meal.


I think a likely failure would be a railing failing first, and the water flowing out in a sudden wave, carrying a human in a waterfall to the pavement below.


Last week I walked by where the Berkeley collapse was… they still keep lit candles and photos as a memorial where the balcony fell. :confused: Of all the ways to go out in this world, balcony collapse has to be one of the most preventable.


I’d say measles and polio top this easily.


Not if you grew up with Imperial. When I read this, my rough calculation went like this:
Balcony appears to be about 10 feet x 4 feet, and the water is about 2 feet deep.
10 x 4 x 2= 80 cubic feet.
Google says one cubic foot of water weighs 62.4 pounds.
80 x 62.4 = 4992 pounds (2270 kg). Close enough.

Growing up in Canada many years ago, I learned Imperial first, and I can still estimate linear measurements better in Imperial than I can in metric.


You beat me to it! Here are my back-of-envelope calculations:

Glass railing panels appear to be 3’ x 3’ + 6" top and bottom = 48" railing height AFF
Balcony appears to be 18’ x 5’ = 90 ft2

Water appears to be half the height of the railing = 2’
18’ x 5’ x 2’ = 180 ft3
Water weight = 62.4 lbs/ft3

= 11,232 lbs on the balcony, not including the child.

Precast slabs for balconies are designed to hold 100 lbs/ft2 per dead load. I don’t know and cannot determine how this balcony was built.

ETA: Your calculations are probably more accurate; the balcony is probably closer to 10’ x 4.5’.


Pull the edge of the liner down so it overflows onto the ground. This is Outside, it’s usually rated for large quantities of moisture.


And that’s the key quote. Metric people don’t have to google this. 1 kg of water = 1 liter = 10 cm = 10 cm = 10 cm. Water is a great baseline, lots of foods and humans are basically incompressible water with pockets of other stuff.


No argument that SI is superior. Back in the day I probably wouldn’t have known the weight of a cubic foot of water, but I probably would have remembered that a cubic foot is roughly 6 Imperial gallons, and a gallon of water is 10 pounds.

Close enough, as we used to say, for government work.:grin:


It seems like an awful lot of water to let down at one time but people are
suggesting this is one one or two storeys up. I was imagining the balcony
was on the 31st floor or something.

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Metric does have the perk of having been defined, in part, so that the mass, volume, and length-cubed of the water all neatly match; but if you have a value for a cubic foot of water doing it in imperial isn’t any harder(and we’re the fluid other than water, you would need to look up the density even if you were doing it in metric) so it’s hard to argue that the difference is all that dramatic.


I don’t have really any phobias, and normally don’t have one of heights, but something about apartment/condo balconies sets one off.