I Didn't Know I Needed to Know about Emergency Services
Addressing for America
Because help often arrives
from the opposite direction of the USPS, only 50% of your
street addresses are visible to 9-1-1 first responders or
Donít keep them guessing, identifying your street address on
BOTH sides of your mailbox using a minimum of 3-inch high
white reflective numbers on a dark background.
Ask yourself, can a 9-1-1 first responder
see your address at 11:00 PM from a distance of
100 feet arriving from the opposite
direction of the mail service?
Addressing Helps Everyone
Seconds Count Don't Keep
Did your 9-1-1
first responder drive past your location,
maybe twice, looking for the correct
address? The smartest thing you
can do is
have 9-1-1 address signage that works well
both day and night.
the good signage/bad signage
guidelines below. Set a good example
for your neighborhood!
A first responders priority is
to respond to your location SAFELY! Our country legislates
signage for roadway signs and
vehicle signs (license plates) to
assure good visibility day and
night, but not property address
USPS only requires one inch high
letters in a contrasting color
on the carrier's arrival side of the
mailbox. Woefully inadequate signage can be a serious distraction
to first responders,
affecting both response time and
safety. The difference between
knowing an address and finding an
address could affect your
When seconds count, help by clearly identifying your street
address on BOTH sides of your mailbox using a minimum of
3-inch high white reflective numbers on a dark background.
If you live in an
area that uses community mailboxes rather
than individual mailboxes or you use a PO
Box, it is important
to display your address on your house using
a minimum of 4-inch high numbers that are
well lit and have a high contrast to the
background, both day & night. As an
alternate, place a 3 foot high post with the
address sign located near the roadside,
visible from both directions.
You Can Help ― When Seconds Count!
DO use a minimum of 3-inch high white
reflective numbers on a dark background.
display your address on BOTH SIDES
of your mailbox. Help often arrives from the opposite
direction of the mail service.
use a directional arrow on the
mailbox if you share a driveway with another house or if the
mailboxes are all on the same side of the road.
display your address ON YOUR HOUSE using
a minimum of 4-inch numbers and make sure they are visible
from the street and brightly lit. Bigger is Better.
call your local fire department and ask about its
address signage guidelines.
use BLACK NUMBERS under any circumstance.
What color is not visible at night? Black numbers
on a white reflective background are common but hard to see
at night. The white reflective background has a tendency to
balloon from the headlights of an approaching vehicle and
hide the black letters. This often happens for the modern
high intensity lights used on emergency vehicles.
use brass numbers. Difficult in the daytime, impossible at night.
use cursive numbering. 1184 is easier than
allow shrubbery or holiday decorations to
block your address on your mailbox or on your house.
rely on curbside painted numbers.
First responders cannot see them as they approach from down the road. The
easily covered by snow, dirt, debris, and completely
hidden by a parked car.
legislate the proper addressing for
motor vehicles - what the license
plate should look like: the height
and color of the letters, as well as
the proper location for signage on
the vehicle. The mailbox numbers
regulation from the
USPS is inadequate for good
first responder address labeling.
for most areas, the laws and
regulations do not specify property
address signage nearly as well.
Usually, the property owner selects
his street address. Good addressing
is important for an accurate and
rapid response from a first responder traveling to the location
of your emergency.
Say something if you spot "Bad Addressing"
First responders want to arrive from
either direction day or night and see white reflective
As they approach, the numbers should be clear and
prominent. Use a directional arrow for a shared driveway
or clustered mail boxes on the same side of
street. Use white reflective numbers at least 3-inches tall on a dark background. Bigger is
First Responders try to avoid driving past
your location. Did you ever wonder how fast an
ambulance or an fire engine can travel in reverse?
The answer is as fast as someone can walk
backwards. Because kids are
often attracted to lights & sirens and can
easily be hidden behind the vehicle, one of
the responders often exits the vehicle and walks
behind to assure the driver of a clear path,
Wasting Precious Time !
Check first with
your local Fire/EMS Department, Police Department, 9-1-1 Center,
Zoning Department, and the Homeowners Association for their specific requirements.
Reserved Ė 2010/17