Hydrant Water: Is it safe to drink?

We have all seen scenes from favorite movies and shows with children playing in water spraying from the neighborhood fire hydrant. If you are lucky like me, you have even been a part of this wonderful experience in real life. This brings up a great question: Is hydrant water safe to drink?

Most hydrant water is safe to drink. The water from the fire hydrants comes directly from the main water lines that supply drinking water in the house. It has gone through all the precautionary processes that the water from your kitchen faucet has. However, you should not tamper with a fire hydrant or drink from it.

The water from the fire hydrant is the same water you have going into your home, so I would say it is safe to drink. If you are living in a place that suggests drinking bottled water instead of tap water, you may want to avoid drinking from an outside hydrant. Let’s dig into this topic further because several circumstances can arise with this water.

When Is It Safe To Drink From Hydrants?

Drinking from a fire hydrant is different from drinking from a garden hose. A garden hose can be turned way down so you can put your lips close to the water supply and get a drink.

In fact, this is how I drank most of my water when I was a kid, and I am sure you have done the same thing at least once in your life. 

Drinking water from a fire hydrant is a little different circumstance. Even though the water that comes from it is genuinely potable, it is not suggested to do so unless an emergency situation occurs.

But, as a general rule, drinking from a hydrant is bad for several reasons.

  • It is illegal in most areas to open a fire hydrant unless for use by fire department members.
  • The water is not regulated, so it has substantial pressure, which can cause serious injury.
  • Draining the water supply in one area may decrease the pressure in another. One where the fire department needs it to put out a house fire.
  • Opening a hydrant can cause sediments to stir up, creating a water supply to the surrounding houses with dirt and debris in their water. It can also make water that is dirty and murky looking. Still safe to drink but not very appealing.
  • Opening a hydrant can cause water to back up, mimicking a flood that can damage nearby homes and businesses.

If breaking the law is not enough to keep you from drinking out of a fire hydrant, the other reasons should.

Pro Tip: If you open a hydrant, let it run for a least a few minutes until the water is clear.

When a circumstance arises that creates a moment when fire hydrant water needs to be drunk, you must follow the proper steps. There is a right way to do it and some wrong ways.

Also, I wrote an entire article on whether fire hydrants can freeze, click the link to check it out.

How To Drink From A Hydrant

Drinking from a fire hydrant may be the only way that you can quench your thirst and give your body the fluid that it desperately needs.

The process is not as simple as turning on a valve and getting enough water out to drink. There are some safety precautions that we would all need to take to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone involved.

  • Opening the cap – Undoubtedly, you have seen the cap that sticks out from the side of the fire hydrant. This cap is what stands between you and that cool, refreshing water, so it will need to be removed. You will need a special tool, or you can try it with a big adjustable wrench. 
  • Opening the valve – Once the cap is off, you are ready to open the valve and get your water. To this very slowly because you do not want the full force of the water to come spraying out. You will want to open the valve just enough to get a stream of water that you can use to fill the buckets that you have ready.

Never try to drink straight from the hydrant because the pressure can be excessive, which can cause some severe injuries.

Fill the buckets or containers with as much water as they can hold, then shut the valve back down and put the cap back on.

You need to keep in mind that if you are in a city, this is illegal unless the town has authorized the use of the hydrants for personal drinking water.

This will only happen in the direst of emergencies, so do not do it just because you want to.

The hydrants are not the city’s property if you live in a private neighborhood. You can get permission from the landowner and get as much drinking water as you want out of the hydrants.

It is still illegal to open the hydrants without the proper authorization, so keep your wrench in the garage until you have the OK to use them.