Opening fire hydrants is a neighborhood tradition that’s more dangerous than you think — and definitely illegal. Call (215) 685-6300 24/7 to report an open or leaking hydrant.

That’s the bad news. The good news: our friends over at Parks and Recreation have lots of sprinklers and spraygrounds waiting for you to stop by and cool off. These are important neighborhood resources when the City issues a Heat Health Emergency.

And, with more than 60 community pools opening this summer, you and your friends don’t have to open fire hydrants or swim in our unpredictable rivers, where drowning is always a risk.

Read about why swimming in Philly waterways is dangerous and can make you sick, too.

What’s so bad about illegally opened hydrants?

We’re glad you asked…

text: “if a hydrant is damaged...” and illustration of a firefighter standing next to a hydrant with a broken valve, shrugging, and looking confused and helpless because he can't do his job!

Four reasons opening hydrants is dangerous:

  • A fire hydrant opened at full pressure can cause serious bodily harm or even death, should a child or an adult get pushed into oncoming traffic while playing in front of the hydrant.
  • Illegally opening a hydrant can break it, making it useless when it’s needed most—during a fire on your block.
  • The water discharged from an open hydrant can flood local basements and cause problems with other underground utilities.
  • Improper operation of a hydrant can potentially cause a water main break on your street.

Don’t sweat it – there are better ways to keep your cool!

Use the Parks and Recreation cool Finder feature to locate a pool or sprayground near you:

Parks and Rec Fun Finder

Another great option for beating the heat (besides drinking plenty of Philly’s top-quality tap)? Head to a local library and cool off while checking out the wide range of free resources the Free Library of Philadelphia provides for residents.

If you see a hydrant open on your block, report it right away by calling our emergency hotline at (215)  685-6300!


Check out this amazing 1986 rap video PWD put out to warn people about hydrant dangers more than 30 years ago.