In times of emergency, every second counts. This is why local residents are urged to make sure their 911 addresses are properly displayed so emergency response personnel can see them.
"If we could get everybody on board with the 911 addressing requirements, things would go so much better for emergency responders. The safety of people and property can often depend on emergency responders being able to arrive on the scene in a timely manner," Clay County E911 Coordinator/Chief Dispatch Supervisor Melissa Gambill said. "Clay County has an ordinance that requires all residences have their 911 address properly displayed."
According Clay County Ordinance 6-1994 (Section F), 911 addresses "shall be conspicuously placed immediately above, on, or at the proper door of each building so that the number can be seen plainly from the street line. Whenever any building is situated more than 50 feet from the street line, the numbers shall be placed near the walk, driveway, or common entrance to each building and upon a gate, post, fence, tree, post, or other appropriate place so as to be easily discernible from the public sidewalk or street."
Gambill said the ordinance also has a potential $25 fine per day for those residents who are not in compliance with the ordinance. However, she is unaware of anyone actually being fined in the 16 years the ordinance has been in existence.
"We would much rather this come across as helpful information, and not coercion," Gambill said. "There are many reasons to properly display your address other than trying to avoid a possible fine."
The reasons vary in importance, according to Gambill, and include:
* In a medical emergency, minutes wasted trying to locate the right residence can be the difference between life and death,
* Wasted time can result in property damage or injury in a fire or burglary situation and the list goes on from there, and
* On a less critical matter, having an address properly displayed helps delivery people and friends and relatives, who haven't visited before, find the right house.
"One common problem we deal with is regarding subdivisions, trailer parks and other similar situations where all of the mailboxes for the area may be out near the county road, city street, or highway not near the residences. People often feel that they just need to put their address on the mailbox, but not near their house," Gambill said. "This helps the mail carrier deliver the mail, but it doesn't help emergency responders get to the house when they need to."
Gambill recommends address numbers at least 3 inches tall be used for locations up to 50-feet away from the road, and an inch should be added to the number height for every additional 25-feet away from the road to make the address more readable from a distance.
If the residence is further than 50-feet from the roadway, Gambill said the address should also appear on a marker or mailbox near the roadway.
"Many people use reflective address numbers to put on their mail boxes or signs and these often work well, unless the numbers are too small," Gambill said. "If the numbers are too small, they blur and are illegible at night when bright lights, such as headlights, spotlights or emergency lights, are shined on them. Keep in mind that emergency responders may be trying to find a house in the dead of night, during a snowstorm or thunderstorm and homeowners should get numbers that will be easy to read in those situations, not just for a sunny day."
If a person's mailbox is in front of their residence, Gambill said it is fine to put the address on the box, but not utility poles or street signs.
"If people are going to put their 911 address on the side of their mailbox, it is helpful if it appears on both sides of the box," she said. "In an emergency situation, it is hard to predict which direction emergency responders may be approaching from."
For more information, contact Gambill at 812-446-0911 or email at MGambill@claycountyin.gov.
"This job is all about helping people get their homes properly identified so when an emergency happens, and they need help, we can get the type of help they need in a timely and efficient matter," Gambill said. "If anyone has a question or needs help determining what their 911 address is, they can call me."