Can your home or business be found in case of an emergency?
That’s a question Bryan County Emergency Services is posing to all residents in Bryan County as they spread the word about the necessity of having numbers or letters on homes and businesses denoting their physical address.
Fire Chief Freddy Howell said the easier it is to find a home, the quicker emergency personnel can help.
“When people call us for an emergency they’re needing help right away, and if we can’t find them then it delays the response,” Howell said.
The best way for emergency personnel to find a home is by looking at the physical address numbers or letters either on the home or mailbox, Howell said. However, many homes and businesses in Bryan County don’t have visible figures identifying their physical address, he said.
“Just riding around in the community trying to familiarize myself with the community since I’m new, I noticed a lot of house numbers aren’t visible,” said Howell, who took the reins as fire chief in November. “Even in looking for houses to buy … the numbers aren’t on the house or mailbox, and I’m like, ‘What if someone is having a heart attack, how would we find these people?’ We want to be proactive instead of reactive.”
County Fire Marshal Jason Blalock said it might be easy to spot a structure on fire, “but if we’ve got an EMS call, we may know where roads are, but sometimes we really cannot tell the house numbers.
“If somebody is having a true life-and-death medical emergency, eliminating the three of our minutes we spend trying to find a house would be a gracious help to us,” he said.
Blalock added not only is it important to have figures that are visible from the roadway, it’s important they are reflective, too.
“At night, you can have the house marked all you want, but if we can’t see the address, that’s an issue,” Blalock said. “That’s why we want them reflective — if it’s just spray painted or a black and white sticker, we can’t see them.”
The county has an ordinance that requires all county residents to post numbers or letters identifying their home, Howell said. But he believes many people are not familiar with the rule.
The ordinance states all owners and occupants of structures in the county are required to post figures that are plainly visible from the street that identify their home or business. It goes on to state the figures must be made of durable and reflective material and must contrast the color of the house, building, structure or background.
“It’s not that it’s to punish people or anything, we just want to help people and make them aware there is an ordinance, and they should have (numbers) on there for times of emergencies,” Howell said. “We want to help people.”
He said the county recommends putting easily visible numbers on both the house and mailbox. According to the county’s ordinance, letters or numbers must be at least 3 inches high and not less than a half-inch in width.
In addition to properly displaying house numbers or letters, Howell said residents can help emergency services even more. For residents whose homes aren’t visible from the road, Howell suggested having someone stand by the road until emergency personnel arrives.
“Or if they can’t get out there and wait on the ambulance (or emergency vehicle), they can throw an orange towel or sheet over the mailbox so we’ll know that’s where we need to turn to go down the path,” Howell said.
If it is dark, Howell said leaving the outside lights on or flashing the outside lights will also help emergency personnel. He also suggested identifying vehicles, the color of the home and reference points, such as a major intersection, landmark or even a decorative mailbox, when making an emergency call.
“Know those things in advance because when there is an emergency taking place, that is not the time to try to recall things from memory — study and preplan those things,” he said.
For more information, contact Bryan County Emergency Services Headquarters at 912-858-2799.