Hidden house address signs cause vexation (and could be dangerous)

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An amazing number of houses in Greater Victoria have no visible address numbers. Or, if they are visible during the day, they become invisible at night. This became apparent to me several times this summer as I travelled to unfamiliar neighbourhoods (like the Interurban area) trying to track down a house to pick someone up or to drop off a package.

On several night trips, GPS took me to the general area, and the automated voice said I’d arrived, but I couldn’t be sure, because house after house didn’t have a visible address sign.

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This was vexing.

But in an emergency situation, it can be dangerous, as fire and police departments have pointed out.

It’s a particular concern in semi-rural areas such as Central Saanich, Metchosin and Sooke, where properties can be far apart, making address numbers particularly important. In those regions, thanks to a series of safety blitzes, most houses have large-ish reflective address signs at driveway entrances. Fire departments have been vigilant in getting property owners to put up prominent reflective address numbers.

The Metchosin Fire Department’s Facebook page has this post from a firefighter: “I've lost count of how many calls I have been on in the middle of the night when we're straining to look into the darkness for a house address. Detailed maps, tracking systems and integrated computers have helped, but at the end of the day THE BEST way to make sure we can find your house is one of these signs. They are amazing and have already been proven to save lives; I know, first hand.”

Sooke Fire Rescue Service posted this: “Is your address sign visible for emergency responders? Having an overgrown, missing, or faded address sign can drastically reduce emergency responders from getting to you in a timely manner.”

Both fire departments, on their Facebook pages, offer to help provide reflective address signs for a modest fee.

Metchosin Fire Department is here.

Sooke Fire Rescue is here.

Reflective address signs are occasionally sold as fundraisers. On Vancouver Island, the most prominent reflective address sign campaign is being run by the Comox Valley Monarch Lions Club. Go to 911reflectivesign.ca. The signs are being sold for $40 each, plus $10 for shipping.

The Comox Valley Echo wrote about the project.

Hardware stores sell a variety of address signs, but disappointingly, many of them are not reflective, and some favour flashy looks over legibility. But there are good options, including ones that incorporate solar-powered lighting.

You can do a Google search for “reflective address sign Victoria BC” for other choices.

At our house, we have an address sign at the driveway entrance that’s not reflective, but is lit by a motion sensor light. The headlights of an approaching vehicle would illuminate the sign. I plan to upgrade to a reflective sign that has bigger numbers.

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