How your street address numbers are posted can affect public safety response
When callers dial 911, they often need a quick response – but it’s all too common for poorly displayed street address numbers to delay public safety personnel in reaching the destination.
The frustration that comes with looking for address numbers that are missing or otherwise difficult to spot – sometimes in the darkness of night – has been a lingering issue in many communities. Combating the problem is matter of educating the community how they can help emergency responders.
“I think people would be more apt to do the right thing if they knew,” says White County Public Safety Director David Murphy. “It’s not just for people that are looking for you, it’s for your safety. That’s our biggest concern.”
Such incidents are almost a weekly occurrence, he says. Common examples include numbers that are too small to be seen easily at a distance or they are not reflective when vehicle’s headlights shine on them. Some homes off a public road are missing numbers at the front end of the private driveway that is seen from the main roadway.
In other cases, Murphy adds, a property owner may build an additional residence on their lot and “take” the address number of their old home and display it on the new one down the road. The number actually remains with the first structure, he explains, which can cause confusion.
Murphy says county personnel do have access to a mapping technology to help locate a property, but that can costs additional time to verify the location – especially if a passerby calling in a report cannot identify the location.
The decline in landline telephone use also highlights the need for proper number displays. Mobile phone information gleaned from cell towers can be used to triangulate an approximate location, Murphy says, but it may not pinpoint the caller’s home if it is clustered near other structures. The director notes that more than 70 percent of county service calls comes from mobile phones.
Work is also ongoing to clarify misunderstandings about structures actual addresses, Murphy says, along with efforts to make residents and business owners aware of property displaying numbers.
‘It’s very important we do all we can to make it easy for our first responders to find us in an emergency,” he says.
The following are addressing recommendations come from the White County Public Safety office. A downloadable brochure is available at www.whitecounty.net/public-safety/911-communications. Those without a way to access the online version may call the county public safety non-emergency line at 706-865-9500 for assistance.
Residences, townhouses and businesses
• Use 4-inch tall reflective numbers, whether placed on the mailbox, above-ground sign or a structure
• The address must clearly identify which structure the address belongs to and must be visible from both sides of the street or road the structure is located on or is closest to.
• All posted addresses must be visible during both day and night and contrast in color with the background to which they are affixed.
• House numbers should be visible up to 150 feet from all angles. If you want to check visibility, ask neighbors, friends or service personnel who visit your home if they say the numbers easily.
Private lanes and long driveways
• If an address number is not clearly visible from the street because of the location of the structure, an additional address number shall be posted at the intersection of the driveway with the public street.
• Use 4-inch tall reflective numbers that are visible during both day and night and contrast in color with the background to which they are affixed. Place the numbers upon a post or other structure that clearly displays the number. It is recommended the numbers be at least 4 feet above the ground.
Industrial and commercial structures
• Use reflective numbers no less than 6 inches tall if on a local highway and 8 inches if on a state highway.
• When possible, the number shall be displayed beside or over the main entrance of the structure.
• Reflective numbers that are 6 inches tall are recommended.
• Display the numbers above or to the side of the primary entrance.
• Individual units within the complex shall be displayed on, above, or to the side of the doorway of each unit.