In an emergency, you need your would-be rescuers to be able to find you. But too often, police officers find themselves in the dark when it comes to locating the address of a person in need.
For Const. Kate Link, who just joined the RCMP, the situation is distressing, especially at night.
"We'd get a call and I'd be looking for an address and what would happen is I would literally, sometimes, be driving up and down the street" looking for the address in question, she said. "Lots of people don't have [their addresses] up."
Those addresses that are displayed are often hard to see in the dark.
"One lady had her name written on a box in black marker on her doorstep, which is impossible to see from the street. Lots of people, their house will be white and they'll get gold numbers up, which you can't see at night."
Link soon found that the problem wasn't unique to new police officers.
"Everyone complains about it," said Link. "Probably one of our number-one irritants is trying to find a house."
New members of the RCMP undertake a special project within their first six months on the force. Link has decided to spread the word about the importance of having your address clearly visible. It's a move that was well-received among her colleagues.
"You never know when somebody's going to need help and if we can't see the address, it can take a long time," she said. "Seconds can count."
Link advises people to make sure the colour of their numbers contrasts with the background colour; e.g. dark numbers on light-coloured paint and vice versa. Reflective numbers are the easiest to spot in the dark, she said. And they should be easily visible from the street, not just the home's driveway.
"If you are driving up to your house and you can't see your numbers, then there's an issue," she said. "Just make sure they're big enough and in a good area."
Assistant fire chief Ian Josephson said improperly displayed numbers also vex firefighters.
"You're trying to find an address and it's difficult," he said. "For medical emergencies it's really important."