Top Ten reasons not to open a fire hydrant to beat the heat

Opened Hydrant

(adapted from David A. Nickerson, spokesman for the Providence Water Supply Board: http://www.provwater.com/news/projo_top_10_reasons_not_to_open_hydrant.pdf)

The Top Ten reasons why you shouldn't break open a fire hydrant to stay cool during high heat:

  1. Opening hydrants releases huge amounts of treated drinking water. More than 1,800 gallons per minute can spew from an open hydrant. Water is a precious and limited resource and should be used wisely.
  2. Opening a hydrant use can cause reductions in water pressure throughout other sections of the water system. Using hydrants as public sprinklers can jeopardize people and property if there isn't enough pressure when needed to fight a fire.
  3. Attempting to force open a hydrant can cause internal damage to the hydrant. Although hydrants are inspected twice annually, between inspections, firefighters might need to use a hydrant damaged this way and they would lose precious time. Every second counts when trying to save property and lives.
  4. Hydrant use can stir sediment in water mains and cause unnecessary instances of discolored water to customers in surrounding areas.
  5. The force and volume of water coming from an open fire hydrant can undermine streets, sidewalks, and private property, and rack up some serious repair costs, both to municipalities and to private property owners.
  6. Open hydrants can create traffic nightmares when oncoming vehicles try to navigate flooded streets filled with people and other vehicles.
  7. The raw force of water gushing from an open hydrant can cause serious injury to a person who hasn't been trained in the proper method to safely open a hydrant. Caps on the hydrant can cannonball into the body of someone standing nearby.
  8. Small children playing in hydrant flow can be seriously injured, or worse, by the force of the water stream. Flow from an open hydrant can easily knock a large adult to the ground.
  9. Fire hydrants are installed to fight fires -- not to be used for recreation.

    And the number one reason not to open a hydrant to cool off:
  10. For all the aforementioned reasons, unauthorized use of a fire hydrant is against the law and punishable by fines! In fact, if you see anyone attempting to break open a fire hydrant -- call 911 and report it.

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