Pools and regulationsPosted: June 12, 2020
At swimming pools at hotels and apartment complexes here in California you’ll see this sign. Sometimes it causes quite a stir from people who’ve never seen it before, as it does summon up some graphic imagery, and violates the traditional taboo on not printing the word “diarrhea” on large public signs.
I’ve been pondering this sign for years. It’s not a choice to put it up. The uniform wording and ubiquity suggests there must be a rule. So that means there must’ve been some kind of meeting at a regulatory agency or the legislature where they discussed the diarrhea danger, and agreed to the diarrhea sign rule. Sometimes I’ve idly wondered if the sign were some kind of prank on pool owners, to force them to make all lucky pool users ponder the word “diarrhea” Did a bureaucrat harboring long-felt resentment against pool enjoyers push this through? Punishment for exclusion from a pool party, years ago?
Well, finally I decided to look into it, and quickly found the answer, in this Conejo Valley Guide post, “What’s The Deal With All of Those Signs Posted At The Swimming Pool.”
The requirement for this and other community pool signs comes from California Building Code Chapter 31B “Public Pools,” Section 3120B “Required Signs.”
Section 3120B.11 “Diarrhea” indicates the sign must have letters at least 1 inch high, clearly states what is noted above, and is posted at the entrance area of a public pool. Public pools include municipal/park district pools, hotel pools, water parks, swim schools, homeowner shared pools, apartment pools, campground pools, etc. One is thus not required to post this sign at your home pool (unless you really want to).
As the post notes, there have been outbreaks of waterborne disease from pools.
I’m inclined to give some benefit to common sense in the case of pool diarrhea. I think the California Building Code may have gone too far, living up to California’s reputation as a bit of a ninny when it comes to regulations. From a brief review, it seems like localities could make local amendments to the building code, and make themselves diarrhea-sign free zones. I would support that in my neighborhood. But it’s work to do that, and we can agree it’s not the most pressing problem.
What about the 14 days part? Must our language always be so bureaucratic? Do we just need a simpler sign that says: Be Cool About The Pool? Should the sign also be in Spanish?
Do we have a case study here in how rules, once made, tend to stay just through inertia? Is this a case of an annoying nanny state, or a reasonable public health measure? I suppose if it gives an occasional chuckle and a helpful reminder, it’s not so bad. Just a bit of local color.