Alice gives the thumbs up to large house numbers

Can Freddy Find you?

GPS may not work following a major disaster. Are your house numbers clearly visible?

I have never been good at reading or following paper maps, so when GPS came on the scene twenty-or-so years ago, I was thankfully saved from a fate of perpetual wandering around looking for house addresses.  At the time, I was beginning a career in real estate sales, so successfully navigating to homes was vital to my success!

Now, I have become so reliant on GPS systems to get me where I need to go, that I sometimes plug in an address even when I think I know how to get to my destination.

I am aware, however, that following a major disaster, GPS systems may not work, so first-responders will need to rely on old-school, low-tech — i.e. physical house numbers — methods when answering distress calls. Obviously, it behooves us to help them.

In my role as a disaster preparedness coach, I stress to my clients the importance of clearly posting their house numbers in a highly visible location on their property.

Notice that I did NOT say, on your house. That’s because your house may not be clearly visible itself. Perhaps it stands back from the street or is obscured by hedges, for example.

Choose a spot for the house numbers that is easy to see from the street. Fences and mailboxes are often ideal locations.

Be sure to choose a size (the larger, the better) and font style (simple is better than fancy) that are easy to read.

Color is also important for increased visibility. Black numbers show up better than silver, for example, on white or light colored paint.

When I checked the website of a big-box hardware store, prices for house numbers ranged from less than $1/numeral for 3″ vinyl, reflective, stick-on numbers, to around $10/numeral for 5″ “floating or flush mount” house numbers.

Although the 3″ numbers are better than nothing, I recommend spending more, if you can afford it, to get larger numbers.

The homeowners of the house in the image attached to this post, got my full attention, and you can bet that EMT’s would have no trouble finding their house!

If you need help with the physical process of posting the numbers, perhaps a friend or neighbor might be willing to help.

This is a great opportunity for me to let you know about a non-profit group I belong to called West Seattle Timebank.

Timebank is an international organization with hyper-local chapters. The purpose is to foster opportunities for neighbors to help neighbors, using time, rather than money, as a means of exchange.

Members post offers and requests stating their needs and wants and then “bank” the time they give and receive. Other members do the same. When you need something, you dip into the pool of talent and ask if anyone can help. When you have a skill or talent you want to offer, you let the group know and see if anyone needs your help.

Honestly, explaining the system is more difficult than using the system. And it’s free. As I said, Timebank members exchange time, not money.

But, back to the topic at hand.

Homeowners in rural areas may find it more challenging to find a suitable location to post their address, but such homes tend to be even harder to find, so the potential benefit is even greater. Often the turn-offs to rural homes are from roads with high speed limits, giving the driver less time to look without risking a rear-end collision, or impeding traffic behind them.

Because I feel so strongly about this particular step in disaster preparedness, I have created an on-going contest I call the Find Me Freddy Frenzy! It’s designed to encourage and give incentive to homeowners to post their house numbers conspicuously.

Here’s how it works.

Freddy (that’s me) is combing West Seattle looking for homes with prominent house numbers, and taking pictures of them. Every day he posts a new one on Instagram, @justincaseplans. If you see your house, you have 48 hours to contact me to claim a $10 gift card to a West Seattle business of your choice.

Submit a selfie of your own well-marked home for another chance to win. Follow @justincaseplans on Instagram, and check in daily to see if you are a winner! How fun and easy is that?

This just goes to prove the old adage, there is safety in numbers!