No Matter How Hot, Opening a Hydrant Isn’t Cool

A yellow hydrant gushes water across the street. LCA crews open hydrants to perform system flushing.

2020 has certainly brought its share of challenges, including beating the heat. Pandemic restrictions in place to keep the public safe have prevented most public pools and other swimming areas from opening. Frustrations are rising along with the temperature.

Still, while it might be tempting to crack open a fire hydrant and cool off, DON’T. It’s extremely dangerous — and illegal.

First and foremost, fire hydrants are in place so firefighters can do their jobs. Opening a fire hydrant without the proper tools can 1) cause damage to the hydrant and 2) lowers water pressure in surrounding lines. This means if there’s a nearby emergency, it’s likely firefighters won’t have enough water pressure to adequately battle a blaze. (Plus, trying to open a damaged hydrant can waste precious time).

Secondly, the water that comes out of a fire hydrant is under a lot of pressure. It’s enough to knock over an adult, and especially a child. The pressure is also strong enough to push a child out into the street and into the path of a car. Add in the hazards caused by a wet road and vision obscured by the spray, and it’s a recipe for tragedy

Sudden pressure fluctuations are another issue. When a fire hydrant is opened or closed improperly, it can cause expensive damage to the neighborhood’s water lines, resulting in leaks and main breaks.

And last, but certainly not least, is the amount of water that’s wasted: An illegally opened hydrant can release more than 1,000 gallons of water a MINUTE.

Hydrants play an important role in our water system. Creating a splash park isn’t it. Opening a hydrant to cool off is simply not cool.