Can emergency crews see your house number? (submitted)

Column: Visible house numbers should be mandatory

The most important purpose for house numbers is for emergency crews.

I confess, I’m one of those people.

I was speaking recently with longtime Citizen columnist T.W. Paterson and he had a bit of a rant to share.

A totally legitimate rant.

Many, many homes in the Cowichan Valley do not have visible house numbers displayed.

He is absolutely right. I’m one of the offenders. It’s something I have to make a priority to fix right away.

And if you’re like me, you should do the same.

When I moved into my home the house number was prominently displayed on the front outside wall. The numbers are still there, but I’ve since planted a garden that means they can no longer be easily viewed from the road. And that’s in daylight. At night? Forget it. It’s something I’ve realized for a while was a problem, but somehow I’ve kept putting off getting some more numbers to properly display at the end of the driveway.

Shame on me. House numbers are vital. And not just for friends you’ve invited over who are driving up and down your street trying to find your house, peering through the dark and making your neighbours think there might be burglars in the area.

No, the most important purpose for house numbers is for emergency crews. If you ever need to call 911 for anything, one of the first questions they will ask is where you are. You can tell them, but if your number isn’t displayed prominently, it can cause delays in them being able to find you that can have serious consequences.

T.W. suggested a couple of things that are worth thinking about. First, properly displayed house numbers should be made mandatory by the municipality, and enforced. It’s a public safety issue, after all. The fire department or the ambulance shouldn’t have to drive in circles. We make other things mandatory, from a dog licence to side yard setbacks. Why not house numbers?

Second, he suggested they might consider making the placement of the numbers mandatory as well, so they are all uniform. That’s not a bad suggestion either.

Right now they range from not visible, to on the house, to on the mailbox, to in the hedge, to at the foot of the driveway. Some new subdivisions have them painted on the curb.

I think eye level at the end of the driveway, or in the rare case that you don’t have a driveway, at the street by the front walk is a good idea.

I’ve heard no good argument against either of these suggestions. It would make us all safer. Now, off to the store…

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